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Thursday, August 20, 1998 Published at 19:37 GMT 20:37 UK


Rift threatens London's West End

Sir Peter Hall: "still hoping that Piccadilly season can be retrieved"

Several stage productions in London are under threat of cancellation following a dispute between two of the most important figures in West End theatre.

The director Sir Peter Hall and impresario Bill Kenwright have had an association for about seven years and in February launched a new £1 million programme.

But the relationship is reported to have soured over a new production of Amadeus to be staged at London's Old Vic.

Relationship 'terminated'

Sir Peter claimed in a statement that he had been told that all present and future productions between his and Mr Kenwright's companies had been "terminated".

But he said he hoped the situation could be resolved.

[ image: Dame Judi Dench: due to appear in Filumena]
Dame Judi Dench: due to appear in Filumena
In February, the pair announced their new partnership with the news that Sir Peter's repertory company - once housed at the Old Vic - would transfer to the Piccadilly Theatre in the West End with financial support from Mr Kenwright.

The programme included performances from famous British actors Eric Sykes and Dame Judi Dench.

Sir Peter explained the cause of the row in his statement saying: "I have been directing Peter Shaffer's Amadeus for Peter Wilson (PW Ltd) and Bill Kenwright (BKL Ltd). The two companies have been arguing over terms for months and in this, the last week of rehearsal, they have finally broken off negotiations.

"Bill Kenwright - who has backed me for seven years and has been very good to me - then asked me to withdraw from the production immediately."

'I won't let my cast down'

Sir Peter said he told Mr Kenwright he would not let down the cast, which includes David Suchet.

"Bill's response - a lawyer sent me a letter telling me that all present and future productions of the Peter Hall Company will be terminated," said Sir Peter.

"I am still hoping that the Piccadilly season can be retrieved and I am working towards that end."

The company is currently staging a critically acclaimed production of Major Barbara at the Piccadilly Theatre with Peter Bowles and Jemma Redgrave in the lead roles.

Rehearsals are due to begin early next month for a production of Eduardo de Filippo's Filumena starring Dame Judi, which will open on September 30.

A publicist for the season said he had no indication that any of the programme would be cancelled.

Mr Kenwright's office did not respond to journalists' requests for comment.

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