Search

Legal threat is a real showstopper

PUBLISHED: 08:04 09 June 2006 | UPDATED: 10:59 22 October 2010

IAN CLARKE

A Norfolk tourist attraction planning an open air Grease musical concert was last night frantically making new arrangements after being threatened with court action by a global music company.

A Norfolk tourist attraction planning an open air Grease musical concert was last night frantically making new arrangements after being threatened with court action by a global music company.

About half of the 5,000 tickets for the “spectacular all-singing all-dancing” stage show at the Amazing Maize Maze at South Creake, near Fakenham, had already been sold.

But Grease will certainly now not be the word at the North Norfolk venue on August 19 following strongly-worded letters from Warner/Chappell Music's lawyers in New York.

The entertainment company - the principal UK publishers of the songs from Grease and part of the Time Warner empire - wrote to say the concert would “infringe its rights”.

Anna Gardner, who runs the maze with her husband, Christopher, booked the show through a stage and sound company and was shocked to get the lawyers' e-mails and faxes.

“It caused serious panic and it all came completely out of the blue. I booked it in good faith and we all thought the copyright licence was covered.”

She said a quick internet search showed hundreds of Grease tribute shows were put on round the country and was mystified why the company had targeted them.

“South Creake is obviously too big for New York,” said Mrs Gardner, who has frantically been organising an alternative 1950s and 60s music night. “The show must go on - even if it is not Grease.”

Mrs Gardner said she had spent up to £8,000 on promoting the concert and it appeared the extensive advertising alerted Warner/Chappell Music and triggered the correspondence.

A letter from New York-based lawyers Ronald S Taft threatened legal proceedings “to be commenced against each of you and any and all other persons and firms directly or indirectly involved in said production or presentation”.

David Byrne, of stage and sound company Maximum Leisure, which booked the show, was equally as shocked by Warner/Chappell Music's attitude.

He said efforts had been made to get a licence, but the company was “not interested”.

“I cannot understand it. I have been doing shows for a long time and have never had a problem before.

“I think it is New York flexing its muscles and it is silly. As if one show in a village near Fakenham will make them worried. We are not talking about the West End or another big city.”

Warner/Chappell Music refused to comment.

Arrangements for the alternative show are still being made but Mrs Gardner last night got confirmation of a booking for the popular 50s/60s touring show Knockin' On Heaven's Door.

The original Swinging Blue Jeans, an Everly Brothers tribute and a singer called Tina Obeiman have also been booked and there will still be a classic American car and bike exhibition and a spectacular fireworks finale.

Tickets already bought remain valid for the new show but people are entitled to a full refund.

Contact Ticket Queen on 08707 460046 or log on to www.ticketqueen.com.


If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Eastern Daily Press. Click the link in the orange box above for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Latest from the Eastern Daily Press