Angry fans: "We want our money back!"

Sept. 5, 2009 (CHICAGO) The show went on without the star at the Arie Crown Theatre in Chicago both Saturday afternoon and evening. Theater officials say Fantasia took ill just before the matinee production. Her understudy filled it, and that caused some ticketholders to stage a performance of their own.

"We want our money back!" several of the ticketholders chanted outside of the theater.

All the afternoon theatergoers saw was red after learning they would not receive refunds for tickets purchased to see Fantasia star in the Chicago production of the hit musical. Saturday night, however, an offer was on the table to refund money.

"I was excited to see her, but now, I'm disappointed. I think she could have been more professional and tried, at least, to perform," said ticketholder Roscoe Mohead of Gurnee Saturday afternoon.

"I voted for her a hundred thousand times for her to win that. I mean, I'm just very moved by her, and I'm very disappointed. And I just think the theater, Oprah, or somebody should just give us our money back," said fan Charlotte Czarnecki of Wheaton.

The ticketholders said they were in their seats when they were informed that an understudy, not the American Idol alum, would star in Saturday's performance.

The show's management says Fantasia became ill after eating a turkey sandwich and could not appear in the production, which was made famous by Oprah Winfrey's movie role.

"Fantasia's equally upset because she's very committed and compassionate about delivering for her fans. We don't take anyone for granted. We understand there were about 300 to 400 individuals who were quite upset and asked for refunds," manager Brian Dickens said. "The company is trying to work it out, whether they get a refund or they come back for tomorrow's show."

"I don't know the answer to that because I don't work for AEG. That's the local presenter. And that's kind of where I'm in an uncomfortable position because these are not decisions that I can make or speak on at this time," Color Purple Natl. Tour Manager Chris Danner told ABC7 Chicago Saturday afternoon.

The disappointed crowd became irate after theater officials told them there would be no refunds, only exchanges for tickets to tonight's show, which some said was already sold out.

"[I bought] an $85 ticket, and they want to give me a balcony ticket? I don't think so. That's just not right. And I'm on a fixed income. Why should I have to pay? Fantasia's already been paid," said Homewood's Paulette Foster.

"If Oprah can shut down Michigan Avenue, then why can't we get a refund?" said Letitia Brevard of Evergreen Park.

While most theatergoers remained upset, Maria Munoz, who brought her niece to the musical for her birthday, said she hoped Fantasia would feel up to performing soon.

"We want to see her. So, hopefully, we will. I think Oprah's going to have us on her show, maybe, and give us a private concert. That's the way to go," she said.

Management officials for Fantasia said she was taken to a Chicago area hospital where doctors diagnosed her with food poisoning and dehydration. They also say she has been adamant about performing because she does not want to disappoint her fans any further. Doctors were recommending that she not perform in Saturday night's production, and she did not.

Fantasia was released from the hospital and was resting in her hotel Saturday night.Her manager says she will be on stage for Sunday night's final performance.

A national press spokesperson for "The Color Purple" says that affected ticketholders are being allowed to exchange the tickets for Sunday's show, or they'll be able to seek a refund from where they purchased the tickets.

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