Schoolboy, 15, saves Chesterfield show at 11th hour after actor falls ill with food poisoning

A talented schoolboy rescued a Chesterfield show at the 11th hour after one of the main actors fell ill just hours before it was due to start.

Tuesday, 28th November 2017, 5:17 pm
Updated Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 1:12 pm
Matthew Day saved the show by stepping in at the 11th hour.
Matthew Day saved the show by stepping in at the 11th hour.

Actor Sam Widdowson fell ill with food poisoning before Saturday’s showing of Nicholas Nickleby, performed by Chesterfield Operatic Society, at the Pomegranate Theatre.

At one point it looked like the show might have to be cancelled, but St Mary's School pupil, Matthew Day, 15, came to the rescue.

For the teenager stepped in to play the part of Smike, despite only having 40 minutes to learn two songs for the matinee and evening show, in what was his first-ever lead role.

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It was all smiles in the end for the cast.

The youngster, of Avondale Road, Inkersall, who was originally playing the part of Young Ralph, delivered a faultless performance and the audience were non-the-wiser.

Speaking of how Matthew handled the pressure, his mum Jacqui, who was also in the show, said: “Initially, I think he was substantially shocked. He had no time to panic.

“I asked Matthew if he enjoyed it and he said he did despite the pressure."

Jacqui said that Sam had played a fantastic role on the Wednesday, Thursday and Friday shows before falling ill.

It was all smiles in the end for the cast.

When she got the call to say Sam had come down with food poisoning, she advised her son to take a 'quick look' at the script just in case.

It was hoped that Sam might still be able to perform his songs and words, with Matthew helping out. But when Sam turned up at the theatre he was 'white as a sheet' and was sent home.

With the race on for Matthew to learn Sam's part, he received tremendous support from director Carole Copeland and Ryan Mitchell, who played Nicholas Nickleby.

Jacqui added: "It really pulled the society together and everyone put in a great effort. I don’t think Matthew will forget it in a hurry.”