EXCLUSIVE: Laurence Connor, the British director of troubled West End musical Cinderella, has told friends of his “anger” at how the closure announcement of his show was handled by Andrew Lloyd Webber and his executives.
Connor had not been told his show would be closing. He’d been on a professional assignment in Sydney and was en route to London early Sunday, local Sydney time. At the stopover in Dubai, Connor listened to a voicemail from Lloyd Webber telling him that Cinderella would be closing.
By the time Connor reached the UK on Sunday night, he was informed by friends that the news already was out there. “He reacted furiously,” a source told Deadline today. “He cast all of that company and has been with them through rehearsals and through getting the show up on the stage. We all understand that shows have to open and then at some point they have to close, that’s the nature of the business. However, he would not have wanted the company that he hired to go through any additional anguish.”
Connor was said to be particularly irked that he had recently auditioned a new intake of actors and stage managers who had been due to start work soon.
Ironically, before arriving in Australia, Connor had been in New York to begin casting for the Broadway production of Cinderella that’s due to preview in NYC in February.
There was dismay across the West End, from all areas of the theatre industry, over how Lloyd Webber’s Really Useful Group handled Sunday’s closure announcement to all staff connected with Cinderella.
”It’s madness to even attempt to tell people over a Bank Holiday weekend that their show is to close. Impossible to reach everyone, for starters,” one rival industry executive commented.
”The decision was made on Wednesday of last week about Cinderella’s future. The plan was to announce closure after the Bank Holiday. Something must have freaked them out to make them do what they did,” another source told Deadline.
Last weekend, Lloyd Webber looked at future costs versus future income for Cinderella. There was a lot of red ink. There was a reluctance to shoulder the burden of expenses required to rehearse the incoming cast. He concluded that the production no longer could afford to keep the show running beyond June 12.
Lloyd Webber’s production executives were informed Sunday to shut the show.
The damage to the composer’s reputation, and that of RUG, with regards to how the situation was handled has been immense. To see members of the actors union Equity protesting outside the Gillian Lynne Theatre, where Cinderella’s running, was not a welcome sight for management.
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