When Sydney Theatre Company launched its 2019 season last year, there was one announcement that took everybody a little bit by surprise: homegrown Hollywood star Rebel Wilson was due to return to Australia to star in Martin McDonagh's black comedy The Beauty Queen of Leenane in November this year.
It was a significant coup for the company as Wilson's star in Hollywood continues to rise, but that rising star is likely why she's pulled out of the production. STC announced her withdrawal this morning due to an "unforeseen scheduling conflict".
You've got to feel for STC – they've lost a few of their announced star actors in recent years. The most obvious example is Orange is the New Black star Yael Stone, who pulled out of STC's 2018 production of Saint Joan when she became pregnant.
While STC is the country's biggest theatre company with a roster of recent actors including Cate Blanchett, Richard Roxburgh, Hugo Weaving and Isabelle Huppert, they can't necessarily compete with the cash that the film and TV industry can splash out on attracting big names. And they also require actors to commit to roles far in advance so that they can launch their seasons with plenty of star actors attached. It's not unusual that lucrative film and TV offers pour in after an actor has committed to a theatre role.
But as any avid theatregoer will tell you, it's not always the biggest names who deliver the biggest performances, and there's no shortage of talent who could step into Wilson's roles. Last year Sarah Snook replaced Stone in Saint Joan and delivered one of the year's best performances.
So let's wait and see who STC comes up with.