Producer under fire for staging new shows despite claims of unpaid wages on collapsed musical Wonderland
A producer being pursued for more than £30,000 in alleged unpaid wages for a collapsed show has come under fire for continuing to stage productions.
Neil Eckersley was behind the tour of Wonderland, starring Kerry Ellis and Wendi Peters, which was produced last year through a company called Wonderland the Musical Ltd. It collapsed after the production’s sound equipment was pulled back by a supplier due to a financial dispute.
Eckersley is now co-producing Stephen Sondheim musical revue Putting It Together with Aria Entertainment and Hope Mill Theatre in Manchester. In July, Eckersley also co-produced Aspects of Love at Hope Mill Theatre.
Equity has confirmed it is pursuing Wonderland the Musical Ltd, of which Eckersley is listed as the sole director, for more than £30,000 allegedly owed to 10 actors in unpaid wages for Wonderland.
Equity’s Paul Fleming said: “The union is continuing to pursue money we believe to be owed through the courts and have recently instructed a barrister to take this forward.
“The claim is for 10 of our members and in excess of £30,000. We remain hopeful that a resolution can be reached, but are more than prepared to take the case to its full conclusion through the courts if necessary.”
However, news that Eckersley is staging a new show has been met with criticism by a performer who appeared in Wonderland.
Natalie McQueen, currently appearing in Kinky Boots, claimed on Twitter that people were still owed money from that show. She added: “I am truly disgusted. How are people still working with him? This has to stop.”
Co-star Peters added on Twitter this “has to stop”.
Equity will be launching a campaign in November to highlight to the government how current laws allow producers to escape personal financial liability when a show is cancelled in breach of contract.
A statement from Clintons, solicitors for Eckersley, said: “We dispute the allegations, and have been advised not to comment further in relation to this ongoing legal dispute. In the meantime we remain fully committed to our current and future productions.”
Both Aspects of Love and Putting It Together are lead-produced by Aria Entertainment and Hope Mill Theatre and general managed by Aria Entertainment under a Hope Aria Ltd agreement.
A statement from Hope Aria said: “Neil Eckersley has come on as a co-producer on these particular productions and while not managing the shows as a lead producer, he and his company have honoured their liabilities to us.
“As a growing company, still in its infancy, we are grateful for the support of producing partners who help to support the work that we do.”