The Shakespeare at the George Trust team proved that the show really must go on after conquering setbacks to stage Noel Coward’s classic play Blithe Spirit.

The piece was performed at The Manchester Room at The George Hotel, Huntingdon, from Wednesday until Saturday, but just four weeks ago there had been concern that the whole production would have to be cancelled.

Publicity trustee Simon Maylor said that as the countdown was on to opening night, rehearsals were going well and the cast were looking forward to four sell-out nights. Former prime minister Sir John Major and his wife Dame Norma Major were scheduled to join them on the last night.

Martin Woodruff was all set to take on the lead role of Charles Condomine when he was taken ill and told by his doctor not to do anything for at least three weeks.

They were faced with two options - to scrap the sold-out production or find someone to quickly learn the part. That's when Simon Maylor, who is the husband of director Charlotte Maylor, stepped in to the role.

He said: "As soon as the trustees and the cast heard of the potentially impossible position we were in, they rallied around and a fantastic support network was set in place.

"I rehearsed every night for the last three weeks and at weekends with Lucy Crawford and Lynne Livingstone who were playing Charles' wives (living and deceased) in the production, and the rest of the cast also put in lots of extra rehearsal time.

"Martin is a fine actor for whom we all have a tremendous amount if respect. We all know that he would not have withdrawn unless it was absolutely necessary.

"Despite the numerous setbacks, it was a huge success to audience and critics alike."