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Spanish Peter Pan faces MU music over backing track

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West End-bound Spanish show Peter Pan El Musical has come under fire from the Musicians’ Union for using recorded music and failing to consult the union before signing deals to come to London.

The show, which is due to begin its run at the Garrick Theatre later this month, uses a backing track and the MU claims that the producers’ decision not to employ live musicians, without prior consultation with the union, bypasses an agreement it has with the Society of London Theatre.

MU London senior organiser Dave Webster says the UK management of the show – Cole Kitchenn – did approach the union seeking permission for it to transfer into the West End. But according to Webster, it became apparent that despite the MU’s objections to the use of recorded music in the show, a deal had already been struck.

The producers have since offered to employ a solo musician in the foyer for the duration of the run, but Webster claims while this is “a nod in the right direction, it is not good enough for the West End” and it would be a “more palatable result” if there was a full band playing in the foyer.

“We need to make people aware that when they pay the ticket price, they are not getting the full live experience they’d expect from a West End show,” he told The Stage, adding the MU was considering posting members outside the venue to inform audiences that there would be no live music. It has also written to SOLT, Cole Kitchenn and the Garrick’s operator Nimax to lodge its objections.

A spokesman for the show confirmed the production would be using a recorded backing track.

He added: “We have been talking to the MU about Peter Pan El Musical since January and were hopeful we could reach an understanding about this unique Spanish production that has been touring Spain for the past five years. It comes to the West End for a limited four-week season as a self-contained unit of 40 people.

“The music for Peter Pan was commissioned, performed and orchestrated for the show’s producers specifically as a backing track and was never designed to be played by live musicians – and never has. This is usual with musicals on the continent.

“As a goodwill gesture, the producers have offered to pay a British musician to play in the bar of the theatre before the show and in the interval. The MU has further asked us to put a notice in the foyer at the box office indicating that the show features pre-recorded music and we are happy to comply with this.”

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