Heart problem stops show

PUBLISHED: 09:00 03 July 2009 | UPDATED: 08:19 01 August 2010

THREE performances of a much-anticipated show at Beccles Public Hall had to be cancelled last week when the son of one of the lead roles suddenly developed a heart condition.

THREE performances of a much-anticipated show at Beccles Public Hall had to be cancelled last week when the son of one of the lead roles suddenly developed a heart condition.

David Johnson, the 14-year-old son of Debbie Lambert, who played Mrs Lovett in the Spotlight theatre production of Sweeney Todd, was taken ill on Friday morning and later told he had atrial fibrillation.

The condition is so rare in teenagers that their GP had never heard of it in a boy of his age.

The show had gone ahead as planned on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings but the Friday and Saturday shows had to be cancelled as there was no understudy.

Mrs Lambert spoke of her disappointment at missing out on the final performances of “the role of a lifetime” but stressed she had no choice but to look after her son.

“We had a great Thursday night show and everything was normal,” she explained. “I woke David up on Friday morning and he complained of shortness of breath and that his heart was racing. I felt his pulse and it was really not normal.

“I took David to the doctor's first thing, they did an ECG and transferred us to the Norfolk and Norwich. After another ECG, blood tests and a cardiogram he was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation and had to have a cardioversion, an electric shock to the heart, late Friday night.”

Mrs Lambert had been prepared to appear for the 7.30pm performance on the Friday evening, but when she heard at 5pm that David would be staying in hospital until Monday she realised it would be impossible.

“The whole day I was thinking to myself, 'right, if everything's sorted by tonight I'll be able to go on',” she said. “But when we were told that he'd be in until Monday, that was that. I was really gutted because it was the role of a lifetime, but there was no doubt

in my mind that I had to be with my son.

“The trouble with that particular role is it's such a big role, and once you're on stage you're not off it for more than five minutes - it's a big role to fill. The performers said how gutted they were but they understood. And the people who turned up to watch were really good about it.”

Mrs Lambert said that everyone in the family had been shocked as David was a fit and active young man who played football with St Benet's Wasps and the Barsham football team.

He is thankfully recovering well and is back at school, the Sir John Leman, but will be examined by a Great Ormond Street specialist on Tuesday to ascertain what might have triggered the condition.

Spotlight has lost money through the cancelled performances, but is hoping to claim money back on their insurance.

To claim for a ticket refund send your name and address on the back of your ticket to Natalie Miller, 19 Rigbourne Hill, Beccles, NR34 9JG.

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