Cannibal! Cancels Run Due to Rights WithdrawalDate: 10 May 2010
The London run of Cannibal! The Musical, which was due to open at the Leicester Square Theatre in July, has been cancelled due to what producer Frazer Brown has termed “reprehensible and immoral behaviour” on the part of its rights holder, South Park collaborator Jason McHugh.
The show, adapted from the cult 1996 film bySouth Park creator Trey Parker, was first seen Off-Broadway in 2001 and had a run at the 2008 Edinburgh Fringe care of the Rival Theatre Company production, the company behind the London transfer.
In a lengthy statement, Rival Theatre Company co-founder Frazer Brown said: "I am deeply saddened to announce the cancellation of Trey Parker’s Cannibal! The Musical at the Leicester Square Theatre. The rights Holder Jason McHugh unexpectedly and suddenly pulled his permission for rights usage. The decision is shrouded in mystery as Mr Mchugh's responses have become increasingly vague the past few weeks.
“Mr McHugh recently contacted me to inform me that there was a cash sum on offer by Scott Rudin, Trey Parker and Matt Stone to cancel our proposed London production and postpone it for a year, in hopes of drawing attention to their upcoming Book of Mormon production on Broadway next year. Mr Mchugh until this point had been enthusiastic about our production, director and casting. This ‘blackout’ offer didn’t materialise. I was then abruptly instructed to limit my number of performances to 35 and cancel all further plans for the production including a proposed transfer and tour.
“When I questioned the reason behind this limitation I was told the rights are now no longer available. Period. Mr McHugh cited that he has decided to develop the piece with the producers of Evil Dead the Musical, sometime next year, he also cited unpaid royalties as a factor. No royalty sum had been agreed by Mr Mchugh as we were still discussing these aspects of the production.
“This reprehensible and immoral behaviour on the part of Mr McHugh has left me frustrated and angry, having worked towards this production for over three years now investing large sums of money and time, to see it fail at this point is deeply upsetting. I am currently seeking legal council regarding reparations and damages.
"I can only apologise to those that have already bought tickets for the show, and to the fans of both Trey Parker and South Park that were looking forward to seeing the show. Mr McHugh has not only let you all down but also our cast, Director, Marketing companies and countless other associated professionals. Please contact your ticket vendor regarding refunds."
Set in Colorado in 1873, Cannibal! tells the real story of Alfred Parker, the only American ever convicted of cannibalism. Parker – no relation, presumably, to the film creator – was the leader of a group who set out west in search of gold but lost their way and found starvation instead.