Street of Dreams co-producer adamant tour will go ahead
Street of Dreams composer Trisha Ward has insisted that the musical will resume its tour this year, claiming the production is set to be "a box office hit".
Ward is also co-producer of the Coronation Street musical, which played Manchester on May 9 and 10, before it was revealed that future dates had been postponed - amid reports of unpaid cast members and problems with the show's script.
She said an announcement would be made about the show's future within four weeks and that she was confident everyone involved would be paid.
"It's only postponed, as we appear to have a box office hit on our hands. We sold thousands of tickets for the opening night and thousands going forward. What we are doing is working day and night to resolve all the outstanding issues, and to put the amended show and script on stage for the thousands of fans queuing up to see it. Now things have calmed down, I am excited - or beginning to be excited - about the prospect of our original vision being put on to the stage," she added.
Problems with the show came to light in May, when Ward's brother, John - the lead producer - wrote to everyone involved in the production saying the producers "were far from happy with the show artistically" and they did not want to "take it out again in its present form".
However, speaking to The Stage, Trisha Ward insisted the decision to postpone had come about after the musical's co-star, Katy Cavanagh, emailed producers saying she would not be continuing with the production.
She said: "The reason we could not continue with the tour is that, on Friday, May 11, we received an email saying our leading lady was pulling out of the production. She was unhappy about many different things, and to be honest, I don't blame her, as so was I."
Ward said one of the main problems centred on the script, which she created with Coronation Street writer Damon Rochefort.
Last month, following news of the show's postponement, Paul O'Grady, who played the narrator, told The Stage that a full script had not been in place in time for the production's opening, meaning he had had to "cobble stuff together".
Ward disputed this, and claimed she had presented O'Grady with a full script that had been approved by ITV, which the star then rewrote in rehearsals. She added that she was not happy to have her name attached to a script she had not written.
She claimed: "Our star agreed to learn the script but completely overturned it in the rehearsal process. I saw this script that had been approved by ITV and written by myself and this top writer, Damon, disintegrate in front of my eyes."
Ward added that she had initially been prepared to allow the tour, which was due to visit Dublin, Belfast and Newcastle after Manchester, to continue with O'Grady's amended script.
However, when Cavanagh decided to pull out, Ward said she and her brother were presented with an opportunity to "rework the script and get it back to what it should be".
Ward insisted that, although she could not comment in detail about the financial aspects of the production, it was "ludicrous to say people were never paid", as some cast members have suggested. She said "constant and confidential negotiations and discussions" with the show's backers were currently taking place, about "resolving any outstanding issues".
She also refuted O'Grady's claim that she and her brother, who run production company Reckless Entertainment, were "inept". She claimed that they would not have been granted a licence to use the Coronation Street brand and "would not have managed to put the show on at all if we were".
"That is not to say there are not unresolved issues, but we are dealing with them as quickly as we can. It takes a little bit of time to sort things out, and we have to be allowed to do it," she added.