Impresario's murderous instincts kill off show after just a week five days in

The "salsa-comedy-murder-mystery" in the West End of London has seen more drama behind the scenes than on stage. And yesterday the troubles at
Murderous Instincts reached a climax. After a string of sackings, resignations and arguments, and rehearsals reminiscent of a "motorway pile-up", it was announced yesterday that it will close after only a handful of performances.

The "salsa-comedy-murder-mystery" in the West End of London has seen more drama behind the scenes than on stage. And yesterday the troubles at Murderous Instincts reached a climax. After a string of sackings, resignations and arguments, and rehearsals reminiscent of a "motorway pile-up", it was announced yesterday that it will close after only a handful of performances.

The musical, which opened last Thursday at the Savoy Theatre, will close tomorrow despite a scheduled run until January, after the disappearance of its producer and writer.

The main protagonist has emerged as Manny Fox, the septuagenarian cigar-chomping Broadway impresario who was responsible for producing the play.

It was on Tuesday morning that he called startled theatre staff from the airport to say he was returning home to Puerto Rico with his wife, Cinda, the Firestone Tyres heiress who wrote the play. Yesterday an e-mail informed staff that the £2m production was to close.

As the news filtered down among actors, creatives and production staff, there was anger at the way in which the couple had treated them. There were also fears that they would not get paid. Nichola McAuliffe, who plays the female lead, said: "Words cannot express how I feel about these two people and the total contempt and lack of respect they have shown us.

"The way I see it is that Manny Fox had the most expensive top-of-the range Hornby train set and he put his foot right through it."

Setting a "salsa-comedy-murder-mystery" on a West End stage was always going to be ambitious. The production ­ set in Puerto Rico ­ was loosely based on the life of Mrs Fox. It tells of a recently widowed wife of a rum tycoon and her adult children fighting over their inheritance.

A string of torrid family feuds is set against the backdrop of a Latino salsa tempo with choreography by the world salsa champion, Jhesus Aponte.

While the concept was based on a successful salsa night in Puerto Rico, the West End production swiftly became embroiled in controversy. The eighth director, Bob Carlton, who also directed the hit musical Return to the Forbidden Planet, was sacked by Mr Fox in front of the audience during a try-out in Norwich. This was followed by the departure of two other senior members of the production team.

Attempts to replace Mr Carlton with Michael Rooney, the son of Mickey, proved equally ill-fated. His application for an emergency work permit was blocked after representations to the Home Office from the actors' union Equity.

Rooney attempted to oversee the show from the end of a telephone line in Paris. That plan too had to be abandoned. Eventually, the production team made do with two "artistic advisers".

And when the production finally opened last week, its reviews were far from glowing. "Camp", "witless" and "unintelligible" were among the adjectives used by some of the more generous critics, many of whom recommended a stiff mojito cocktail before settling down to watch it.

Last night, McAuliffe, who plays Edwina in the show and previously starred in the West End production Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, described how those involved in the production were angry but unsurprised.

Speaking as she prepared to go on stage for one of her final performances, she said: "I wish I could say we are surprised that it's closing so early but I cannot tell you how angry we are at the way they have behaved."

McAuliffe had earlier described the problems that beset the production from the start, including rehearsals reminiscent of "a motorway pile-up". She spoke of endless changes and re-writes, actors unable to dance salsa, characters that didn't seem to fit the plot and a promotion poster that looked as though it had been made by a sixth-former.

She also implied that many of the problems appeared to stem from the larger-than-life personality of its now absent producer Mr Fox.

"[He] has a heart of gold, chews large cigars, wears a baseball cap and is, as he proudly proclaims, as mad as a box of frogs," she said.

No one was available for comment at the Savoy Theatre last night.

WHAT THE CRITICS SAID

'The Independent', Paul Taylor

"Could Murderous Instincts possibly be as entertaining onstage as it has been off? Well, the answer is: at times, damn nearly... Imbibe a few judicious mojitos first, and you could have a ball."

'The Guardian', Lyn Gardner

"Thoughts turn not to murder but to suicide during this misbegotten musical ... It is pure poison, although the last 10 minutes do offer a little emergency resuscitation for those of us who had considered ordering Kool-Aid and cyanide at the interval."

'Evening Standard', Nicholas de Jongh

"After exposure to the flamboyant ineptitude and boredom of Murderous Instincts, this musical has all the allure of a smash hit: a hit of the kind when several unroadworthy vehicles collide on a wild drive to West End glory."

'The Times', Sam Marlowe

"This farrago of a show has all the heat of a frozen margarita and all the suspense of a game of Cluedo. It's crude and not sufficiently daft to entertain even in a superficial way."

Arts and Entertainment
Legendary charm: Clive Owen and Keira Knightley in 2004’s ‘King Arthur’
FilmGuy Ritchie is the latest filmmaker to tackle the legend
Arts and Entertainment
Corporate affair: The sitcom has become a satire of corporate culture in general

TV review

Broadcasting House was preparing for a visit from Prince Charles spoiler alert
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: There are some impressive performances by Claire Skinner and Lorraine Ashbourne in Inside No. 9, Nana's Party spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Glastonbury's pyramid stage

Glastonbury Michael Eavis reveals final headline act 'most likely' British pair

Arts and Entertainment
Ewan McGregor looks set to play Lumiere in the Beauty and the Beast live action remake

Film Ewan McGregor joins star-studded Beauty and the Beast cast as Lumiere

Arts and Entertainment
Charlie feels the lack of food on The Island with Bear Grylls

TV

The Island with Bear Grylls under fire after male contestants kill and eat rare crocodile
Arts and Entertainment
Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Quicksilver and Elizabeth Olsen as Scarlet Witch, in a scene from Avengers: Age Of Ultron
filmReview: A great cast with truly spectacular special effects - but is Ultron a worthy adversaries for our superheroes? spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Ince performing in 2006
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
Beth (played by Jo Joyner) in BBC1's Ordinary Lies
tvReview: There’s bound to be a second series, but it needs to be braver spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry, the presenters of The Great Comic Relief Bake Off 2015

TV
Arts and Entertainment
A still from Harold Ramis' original Groundhog Day film, released in 1993

Theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Christopher Eccleston (centre) plays an ex-policeman in this cliché-riddled thriller

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey looks very serious as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

TV This TV review contains spoilers
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Wiz Khalifa performs on stage during day one of the Wireless Festival at Perry Park in Birmingham

music
Arts and Entertainment
Festival-goers soak up the atmosphere at Glastonbury

music

Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars creator George Lucas

film

Arts and Entertainment

music

Arts and Entertainment
A shot from the forthcoming Fast and Furious 7

film

Arts and Entertainment
The new-look Top of the Pops could see Fearne Cotton returns as a host alongside Dermot O'Leary

TV

Arts and Entertainment
The leader of the Church of Scientology David Miscavige

TV

Arts and Entertainment
No half measures: ‘The Secret Life of the Pub’

Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

    Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
    Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

    Aviation history is littered with grand failures

    But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

    Fortress Europe?

    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
    Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

    Never mind what you're wearing

    It's what you're reclining on that matters
    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence