There's a jaw-dropping story in today's Sydney Morning Herald concerning a Sydney production of Stephen Sondheim's Company. The musical, directed by Gale Edwards, is produced by Kookaburra - according to its website, "Australia's First and Only National Musical Theatre Company". It seems that Sondheim threatened to withdraw the rights to the show after an executive decision to cut Company by 20 minutes. According to the SMH:
Legendary composer and producer Stephen Sondheim ... threatened to pull the plug on the Sydney show after key songs, scenes and dialogue were removed in a last-minute hatchet job to his script in Wednesday night's performance of Company at the Theatre Royal....
The man who sparked the initial controversy, Kookaburra's founder and chief executive, Peter Cousens, reversed an earlier denial and admitted he ordered the cuts to the Wednesday night performance after the cast member Christie Whelan, who plays the role of April, called in sick. "I was trying to put a very positive spin on the fact that all was well [and] that nothing had gone on at the theatre that was a problem for the public to be made aware of," Cousens said yesterday. "This is always my attitude as audiences are not interested in problems."
Quite apart from the fact that it's, er, dodgy to violate an artist's moral rights, Cousens obviously forgot that audiences are interested in the actual show. It seems the SMH heard about it from disgruntled Sondheim fans upset by the disembowelled version. And that the cast and director weren't happy, either. Bizarre.