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Student production of Elton John’s Aida cancelled in race row

Music Theatre Bristol had voted to stage the rock musical early next year Music Theatre Bristol had voted to stage the rock musical early next year
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A student production of Tim Rice and Elton John’s Aida has been cancelled amid a row over racial diversity.

Music Theatre Bristol, a society for students at the University of Bristol, had voted to stage the rock musical early next year, but the group has now pulled the show from its line-up.

Based on Verdi’s opera of the same name, Aida is set in Egypt and tells the story of an Egyptian general who falls in love with an enslaved Ethiopian princess.

Reports in student publication The Tab claimed there had been complaints over white students playing non-white characters.

In a statement, Musical Theatre Bristol said it had cancelled the show “with great sadness”, adding that the decision to stage it had “caused controversy in terms of racial diversity”.

“To those who had concerns on this we would like to say, the show set in ancient Egypt is about a war between two countries and as a result the enslavement of one country. The two lovers of the story cannot be together due to their responsibilities to their countries as different nationalities and this is reflected in the book, with no comment made on racial discrimination,” the statement said.

“It is a great shame that we have had to cancel this show, as of course we would not want to cause offence in any way, and that was certainly never our intention. Our intention was to tell this story, one which surely is better heard than not performed at all,” it added.

Last summer, a production of Wars of the Roses at the Rose Theatre Kingston was criticised for its all-white cast.

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