- The Stage - https://www.thestage.co.uk -

Producer of collapsed Wonderland tour faces claim it owes thousands in unpaid fees

Suppliers and members of the creative team working on the recently collapsed tour of Wonderland the Musical have claimed they are owed thousands of pounds by the show’s production company.

The musical, which starred Kerry Ellis and Wendi Peters, had been touring since January. Two performances were cancelled last week [1] after a financial dispute with a supplier, after which the remaining three weeks of tour dates were cancelled.

The show is produced by Wonderland the Musical Ltd, which is run by producer Neil Eckersley.

A printing company is fighting to recoup a total of £5,660 it claims to be owed for printing flyers to promote the production in summer 2016.

Print and distribution firm G&H Sheet Fed Ltd, based in Manchester, told The Stage it is owed £4,560 for one job printing 300,000 Wonderland postcards and another £1,100 for printing 48,000 cards for the production.

The firm has pursued legal action, resulting in a county court judgement of £6,376 including costs against Neil Eckersley Productions Ltd, another company ran by Eckersley, in December 2016.

There is an additional, unresolved county court judgement of £259 against Neil Eckersley Productions Ltd made in June 2017. However, it is unconfirmed whether this is linked to Wonderland the Musical.

A spokeswoman for G&H said the company had been paid for three previous, smaller jobs, but was still owed money for the two jobs mentioned.

She said: “We entered into a working relationship with Neil Eckersley in good faith and now, 12 months down the line, with monies still outstanding and despite our best efforts to obtain payment, it has been galling to see Wonderland tour in theatres around the country.”

A financial dispute with suppliers Orbital Sound led to the cancellation of two performances at Swansea Grand Theatre last week. This resulted in the tour collapsing entirely on July 28 [2].

A member of the creative team, who did not want to be named, has told The Stage they are owed hundreds of pounds for their work and are pursuing legal action against Wonderland the Musical Ltd.

Since the closure of the production, The Stage understands that cast members were asked by the producers whether they wanted to buy their costumes.

Responding to the claims, a spokesman for Wonderland the Musical Ltd said: “The dispute with G&H and the contested county court judgements are one and the same thing. That is a commercial matter to be resolved with the company concerned.

“Some cast members had expressed an interest in retaining elements of their costumes at the end of the tour. That is commonplace at the end of a contract and the comments to which you are referring have been taken out of context. The physical production, including costumes, is in storage.

He said the claims concerning pastoral care on the show were “unfounded”, and that the company was not at liberty to discuss the contracts of individual team members.

Equity is now investigating whether any of its members’ contractual rights are affected by the closure of the show, while the Musicians’ Union has called on any members affected to make contact.

An MU spokesman said: “We have been informed of the appalling news of the premature closure of this show.

“Producers should be 100% sure they can cover the entire costs of such a major undertaking of a tour of this size. When situations like this arise it affects those performers who are reliant on this contracted work deeply. We will take whatever actions possible and necessary on behalf of our members.”

Eckersley has come under fire in the past when actors, backstage staff and suppliers claimed his production company Speckulation Entertainment owed them thousands of pounds for work on various projects.