News Story

Artistic Director Lotte Wakeham saved the day and made her Octagon performing debut to keep shows running after cast illness.

Image of cast backstage and headshot of Artistic director Lotte Wakeham

It was a race against time to save the show at the Octagon over the Christmas weekend. Due to illness three cast members of the our musical adaptation of Around the World in 80 Days were unable to perform. Olivia Chandler the swing actor for the production took on the role of Phileas Fogg’s trusted butler Passepartout, local actor Jacob Butler stepped in after one rehearsal to play the role of undercover journalist Khatri and Artistic Director Lotte Wakeham made her Octagon performing debut by stepping into the role of Lady Eliza Sullivan and ten other supporting characters - including a farmer, a jailer, a newspaper boy and the gangster Al Capone - for three performances of our hit festive show. Jack Clearwater Assistant Director earlier in the week had also stepped in to save the show.

Audiences were treated to this special line up on Fri 22nd and Sat 23rd December performances. The whole team pulled together to create costumes, practice quick changes and of course step into unfamiliar roles to ensure families were not disappointed this festive season.

Lotte Wakeham commented “We know that a trip to the theatre is a beloved festive tradition for many families, so we didn’t want to let our audiences down and we wanted to avoid cancelling as many performances as possible. We had prepared for some illness and additional cover to keep the show going but with three of the original cast not well enough to perform we needed to go the extra mile to ensure the show went ahead. Liv and Jacob did a fantastic job stepping in and I’m hugely grateful to the whole team for getting me through my Octagon performing debut so smoothly. The role I took on involved multiple characters and 12 quick costume changes – it was a brilliant reminder to me of the incredible achievements of our actors and backstage team who go through this several times a week during the festive period to entertain our audiences! I’m truly in awe of everyone working on this production and the amount of care, calmness, and good humour from everyone front of house, backstage and on stage.

“The whole team really supported me (and Jacob and Liv) and I'm delighted that the shows were able to go ahead. The audiences were wonderful and also very supportive, and it was an electric atmosphere at the Octagon on Friday and Saturday. The original cast are now thankfully all back and feeling much better so I am hoping my performing services will not be required further! Thank you to the whole team and of course to our audiences for their understanding and generosity - we hope they enjoyed their festive outing at the Octagon.”

3 images of Lotte Wakeham in different costumes.

Following the performances, the audience gave the performers standing ovations and there were lots of brilliant comments from audience members about the show in person and on social media afterwards:

“The stand-ins just threw themselves in and it was great!”

“Absolutely stunning”

“What a great show that was, they did an amazing job”

“Absolutely fabulous…Loved it. The cast (with a number of understudies due to illness) were outstanding. Go!”

Lotte has been Artistic Director of the Octagon since early 2019, and this was the first time that circumstances have led to her taking on an emergency performing role at the theatre. The last time Lotte stepped into a performance was almost 14 years ago in early 2010, as an assistant director at the Almeida Theatre in London, in the hit production of Rope by Patrick Hamilton. She provided last minute cover for an actor who was stuck on a train and made her performing debut alongside a stellar cast including Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Bertie Carvel.

Around the World in 80 Days is playing until Sat 6 January with tickets available from £15.