Dear Cameron Mackintosh: Review the situation, suggests a theatre producer to the impresario who has refused a licence for a school production of Oliver] (CORRECTED)

CORRECTION (PUBLISHED 8 APRIL 1994) APPENDED TO THIS ARTICLE

What a wonderful compliment you have paid to school play productions. You've forbidden a bunch of dedicated North London kids to put on Oliver] (to which you control the rights) because you fear it will keep audiences away from your own London Palladium mega-revival of Lionel Bart's classic musical.

Are you, our greatest living - or at least richest, which isn't necessarily the same thing - theatre impresario losing all sense of proportion? Do you seriously imagine that the ticket touts will be thronging the school gates in Camden, while Argyll Street, home of the Palladium, is bereft of queues?

In recent years, you have paraded yourself as a champion of young people's involvement in musical theatre. You have supported organisations which encourage new composers and librettists, and have funded (some would say excessively) a visiting professorship of contemporary theatre at Oxford, whose first holder was Stephen Sondheim. The young flocked to hear Sondheim pontificate.

Only a few months ago, you paid for your old school, Prior Park, near Bath, to open its own purpose-built theatre. The first production was . . . yes, Oliver].

And here's the rub. Oliver], now more than 30 years old, is a tired old horse. Lionel Bart's words and music are flawless as musicals go. But how many of us have had to sit through the prancings and squealings of schoolboy Fagins and 12-year-old Nancys, under-directed and physically incapable of conveying even a quarter of the pizzazz of Ron Moody and Georgia Brown, stars of the original production, with sets by Sean Kenny, the ground-breaking modernist?

Still, we have to face the fact that good school musicals don't grow in large quantities on educational publishers' trees, and until something else that's both unforgettably tuneful, and has parts for at least 30 kids, drops into drama teachers' laps, there will be a good many more school Olivers - Cameron Mackintosh permitting.

And come to think of it, if I've really got to see that show again, I'd infinitely rather be sitting on a school chair, next to Bill Sikes's doting parents, listening to the juvenile orchestra tackling 'Food, glorious food' in two keys at once, than paying through the nose for a glitzy Palladium version. Raw enthusiasm, like these Camden kids would have displayed on stage if you had let them, warms the heart 10 times more than the over-polished Bonnie Langford sparkle of the stage-school kids the Palladium will probably use.

So, Mr Mackintosh, you may have thought you were doing us all a favour you said no to that school Oliver]. But if you really want to be seen as something better than a Shaftesbury Avenue shark, think again. (Enter Mackintosh as Fagin, singing thoughtfully: 'I'm reviewing the situation.')

CORRECTION

ON 1 February we published a feature letter by Humphrey Carpenter headed 'Dear Cameron Mackintosh'. This letter attacked Mr Mackintosh personally for his perceived role in refusing a licence for a school production of 'Oliver]'

In fact, although Mr Mackintosh's company, on behalf of the owners of the first-class rights in 'Oliver]', asked last August that amateur licences be withdrawn within the London area, in accordance with normal custom and practice within the theatre when a first-class revival is being planned in the same locality, Mr Mackintosh does not administer the licensing of amateur rights, which is done by an independent agency on behalf of an American company.

When he learned that the children of St Aloysius Junior School in Camden had rehearsed an amateur production of 'Oliver]' without the school first obtaining a licence, he, personally, on behalf of the schoolchildren, intervened with the independent agency which administers the amateur rights, and arranged that the ban would be lifted in respect of all licence applications received by that agency between the date of the ban in August 1993 and 7 February 1994, on condition that all school performances concerned take place before the end of 1994.

The Independent and Mr Carpenter accept that this is the case and that the criticism of Mr Mackintosh in Mr Carpenter's feature letter was unfounded, and they both apologise for the misleading impression of Mr Mackintosh which that feature letter may have given.

(Photograph omitted)

News
Russell Brand was in typically combative form during his promotional interview with Newsnight's Evan Davis
peopleReports that Brand could stand for Mayor on an 'anti-politics' ticket
News
The clocks go forward an hour at 1am on Sunday 30 March
news
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor finds himself in a forest version of London in Doctor Who episode 'In the Forest of the Night'
TVReview: Is the Doctor ever going stop frowning? Apparently not.
News
Voluminous silk drawers were worn by Queen Victoria
newsThe silk underwear is part of a growing trade in celebrity smalls
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Sport
footballMatch report: Real fight back to ruin Argentinian's debut
News
Candidates with surnames that start with an A have an electoral advantage
newsVoters are biased towards names with letters near start of alphabet
Arts and Entertainment
Isis with Lord Grantham (Hugh Bonneville)
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jay James
TVReview: Performances were stale and cheesier than a chunk of Blue Stilton left out for a month
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Maths Teacher

    £110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

    Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

    £40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

    ***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

    £30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

    ***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

    £35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

    Day In a Page

    Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

    Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

    Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
    Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

    Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

    The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
    New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

    New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

    Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
    Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

    Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

    The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
    DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

    Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

    Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
    The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

    Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

    The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
    Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

    Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

    The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
    11 best sonic skincare brushes

    11 best sonic skincare brushes

    Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
    Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

    Paul Scholes column

    I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
    Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

    Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

    While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
    Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

    Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

    Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

    A crime that reveals London's dark heart

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?