A revival of “Company,” the second production by the fledgling Kookaburra Musical Theater Co., has ruffled feathers at home and abroad, with composer Stephen Sondheim reportedly infuriated by last-minute cuts ordered after a cast member fell ill.
According to reports in the Sydney Morning Herald, numerous lines and at least two numbers were omitted from the musical last week after Christie Whelan, who plays April, opted out and there was no understudy to replace her. The audience was not notified of the cuts and the perf wrapped 20 minutes early.
Kookaburra founder and topper Peter Cousins initially denied ordering director Gale Edwards to alter the production. But after audience complaints and publicity Cousins admitted the mistake, though not personally.
The following night’s show was canceled and the company issued a statement apologizing to the creators and offering the jilted audience members free tix to another perf.
“In response to the adverse reaction to an edited performance of ‘Company’ at the Theatre Royal on Wednesday 18th July, caused by the serious illness of a cast member, Kookaburra would like to restore the integrity of this performance, by holding a special charity performance of ‘Company’ in support of Oz Show Biz Cares, one of the writers’ favorite charities and the Actors Benevolent Fund,” read the statement.
“Kookaburra celebrates the work of Stephen Sondheim and George Furth and apologizes for interfering with the integrity of their work.”