Letter: Star done away with by Mogulville tyrant

Click to follow
The Independent Online
Sir: I must say I have had a bit of a giggle watching Andrew Lloyd Webber and Faye Dunaway having, via their 'representatives', a right old verbal punch-up ('The case of the actress and the showman', 31 August). They were like two Dublin fishwives out in the street spitting and screeching their abuse for the world to hear. There was something about it that invoked bloodlust, since here was David in the shape of the lone player versus Goliath, the tyrannical forces of Mogulville.

The actress must depend for her livelihood on how she feels when she gets up in the morning; she has to get out there, perform eight shows per week, rain or shine, whether her mood dictates or not, whether she is sick or well. Or in film, to be cast off when her close-ups reveal the cracks in the facade or when some other more tempting piece of meat ousts her.

Theatre was always a more honourable profession since other values are at work, like royalty, the support of an actor and the belief that they will grow into a role that is started hesitantly. Unlike film, you have time to grow and the nightly repetition strengthens and gives confidence.

They chose her, they must have heard her and cast her based on that early promise, but refused her the chance to grow. This is an act of faith you must have or shows would close every other day after a few days' rehearsals if the directors and producers were not fully aware of the growing factor, as true for plants as for performers. So they betrayed that unwritten act of faith.

Many great performances we cherish today started life as bummers but, with the love and care of the director, became something all the more stunning by virtue of overcoming difficulty. Is this a result of instant success, the quick jungly tune, the immediately recognisable number that you go out humming, something a tad facile?

I am sure Andrew Lloyd Webber works conscientiously at his lyrical bonbons but the world knows that they ain't exactly Puccini and so what if Dunaway isn't Callas, she has a bite and wit as a player. But if she was such a bummer, why close a show on account of one performer? Putting dozens out of work seems a touch arbitrary when there are more singer/actors in LA than pubs in Dublin. How can you be so incredibly wealthy that you can behave with the omnipotence of a pasha whose whim must be obeyed and damn the cost?

It smacks of tyranny to deprive LA, the cultural desert of America, from enjoying this anodyne slosh that belongs there since that town bred the beast from which this musical is a poor bastard offspring.

Yours faithfully,

STEVEN BERKOFF

London, E14

31 August

Comments