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)

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
News
Top Gun actor Val Kilmer lost his small claims court battle in Van Nuys with the landlord of his Malibu mansion to get back his deposit after wallpapering over the kitchen cabinets
people
News
Comedian Ted Robbins collapsed on stage during a performance of Phoenix Nights Live at Manchester Arena (Rex)
people
News
The actress Geraldine McEwan was perhaps best known for playing Agatha Christie's detective, Miss Marple (Rex)
peopleShe won a Bafta in 1991 for her role in Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit
News
newsPatrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
News
Robert Fraser, aka Groovy Bob
peopleA new show honours Robert Fraser, one of the era's forgotten players
Life and Style
Torsten Sherwood's Noook is a simple construction toy for creating mini-architecture
tech
Sport
David Silva celebrates with Sergio Aguero after equalising against Chelsea
footballChelsea 1 Manchester City 1
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

    Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

    £15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

    Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

    £15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

    Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

    £20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

    Recruitment Genius: General Factory Operatives

    £18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

    Day In a Page

    As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

    As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

    Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
    Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

    The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

    Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
    Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
    Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

    Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

    A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
    How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

    How books can defeat Isis

    Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
    Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

    Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

    She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
    The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

    The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

    The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
    French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

    French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

    Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
    Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

    Young carers to make dance debut

    What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
    Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

    Design Council's 70th anniversary

    Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
    Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

    Dame Harriet Walter interview

    The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
    Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

    Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

    Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

    Bill Granger's winter salads

    Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
    England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

    George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

    No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
    Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links