Robin Hood director forced to take stage after Octagon actor falls ill

The Bolton News: Ellizabeth Newman after being pressed into emergency service in Robin Hood Ellizabeth Newman after being pressed into emergency service in Robin Hood

THE show did go on — but it was a case of “out of the frying pan” into the “friar” for theatre director Elizabeth Newman.

When the curse of Friday the 13th struck the Octagon’s Christmas production of Robin Hood, Elizabeth came to the rescue with a double-quick wardrobe change.

She had to step in when one cast member was struck down with illness on Friday — who was playing both King Richard and the hilariously drunken Friar Tuck.

With no understudy to take the actor’s place and the clock ticking, Elizabeth merrily took up the cudgels of both roles.

And the fact she was a woman did not stand in the way of her making a dramatic entrance as Friar Tuck, as last-minute changes were made to the costume so it would fit her petite frame.

Elizabeth said: “Here at the Octagon we firmly believe in the saying that ‘the show must go on’ — and so in the few hours we had before the show I was able to rehearse the dances, the songs, and attempt to get a few lines memorised.

"I hope that my performance added a bit of humour to the role — I’m not your typical Friar Tuck but I gave it everything I could.

"It really helped working with such a supportive cast of actors.

"The cast were all fantastic. They really got me through it and it was lovely knowing that, as a director, I can rely on this team of professionals to deliver a great show —whatever the circumstances.”

This is not the first time Elizabeth had found herself having to venture from behind the scene to play an unlikely male lead.

In 2010, her performance in the lead role of David Copperfield also saved the day when the actor fell ill unexpectedly with a virus leaving him unable to speak.

Her role as “Davina Copperfield” was very well received and has gone down in history with Octagon staff.

  • Robin Hood plays at the Octagon Theatre until Saturday, January 11. Tickets are available from the Octagon Box Office in person, on 01204 520661 or at


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