Presley's daughter forces Elvis ballet to close just before it opens

Severin Carrell
Saturday 17 August 2013 00:02

A ballet about the life of Elvis Presley has been forced to cancel before it opened after complaints from a company run by the dead star's daughter.

The production, called The King, was due to open at the Festival Theatre in Edinburgh tomorrow for a five-day run. It was then to have transferred to the Sadler's Wells theatre in London for a short season.

The Festival Theatre had already sold 200 tickets, but was warned of possible copyright problems by Elvis Presley Enterprises (EPE), the company controlled by Lisa-Marie Presley, which owns Graceland, the singer's home in Memphis, Tennessee.

The production by the Peter Schauss Ballet, a Danish company, tells the story of the singer's rise to fame, the death of his mother Gladys, his traumatic divorce from his wife Priscilla, and his ultimately fatal abuse of drink and drugs.

Stephen Barry, the Festival Theatre's chief executive, said he had been told they would have to cancel the show because of possible legal implications over the portrayal of Elvis Presley.

Mr Barry added that the theatre would be seeking to make good its losses. He said: "Clearly there will be a financial loss, but hope we can reach an agreement without legal ramifications. As is our policy, all ticket holders will be entitled to a full refund."

The two-hour ballet, which features original music by Elvis Presley, has already played to full houses in Scandinavia where it opened last year. But it is now expected that the company will have to rework the production to comply with EPE's wishes.

The company, which has some copyright controls over the use of Elvis Presley's image, work and estate, is said to have been unhappy with some of the scenes. Despite negotiations with its producers, EPE stopped the ballet from opening.

Sid Shaw, who won a drawn-out battle with EPE in 1998 over his use of Elvis Presley's name and his right to sell Elvis Presley souvenirs, said EPE was wrong to have taken such action. Mr Shaw, who owns the Elvisly Yours Store, said: "The show is putting Elvis on a new plane, it's no longer just karaoke, he is part of the world of art and ballet.

"EPE should be bending over backwards to encourage this type of production."

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