Usher in Chicago(© Paul Kolnik)
Usher in Chicago
(© Paul Kolnik)
Usher, the R&B star who had been playing the role of Billy Flynn in the long-running Broadway revival of Chicago since August 22, has left the show before his scheduled departure date due to a severe case of strep throat.

He was initially signed to play the part through October 1, and his casting spiked the show's box-office numbers greatly. His scheduled stint was extended through Saturday, October 14 -- but, due to his illness, he has been out of the show since last Friday, October 6, and will not return. Bernard Dotson is appearing as Billy Flynn in his stead. Christopher McDonald will play the role from October 15 through November 19; he will be succeeded by Huey Lewis, November 20-January 14.

Usher is the winner of five Grammy Awards, as well as several American Music Awards, MTV Video Music Awards, and other honors. His most recent album, Confessions, sold more than 15 million copies. Among his hit songs are "Burn," "My Boo," "You Make Me Wanna," "Nice and Slow," "U Remind Me," and "U Got it Bad." He has acted extensively in television and in such films as She's All That, The Faculty, and Moesha; he also had a regular role on the CBS daytime drama The Bold and the Beautiful.

Chicago producer Barry Weissler stated: "The entire Chicago company is sending their thoughts and best wishes to Usher for a quick and speedy recovery. Usher made a spectacular Broadway debut, bringing a great dedication, work ethic, and his amazing talent to the show. We all hope that he might return at some point for the many fans that were unable to see his wonderful performance as Billy Flynn. Usher has found a new home on Broadway and is welcomed back anytime."