Producer Thomas Hopkins told the cast yesterday, at the start of their third week of rehearsals, that the show’s main backer had pulled out, and there was no money to pay the company for the remaining rehearsal period and five-week run at the 60-seat venue in Clapham, south London. Determined that the show must go on, the cast and creative team rallied yesterday and, with the help of a major Twitter campaign, managed to raise an additional £10,000 – but it was not enough to cover the shortfall.
The show’s director and choreographer Andrew Wright told Whatsonstage.com: “The thing we’re all most devastated about is that we genuinely thought we had the best show on our hands and it’s so sad that it won’t be seen now.” However, he and co-producer Danielle Tarento, with the support of rights holder Cameron Mackintosh, are “adamant” that the production will see the light of day eventually. They hope to remount it, with new backers, in six months’ time.
Written by Robert Longden and Hereward Kaye, Moby Dick is a mixture of high camp, music hall-style smut and double entendres. The action centres on the anarchic and nubile girls of St Godley’s Academy for Young Ladies and their unflappable headmistress trying to save their school from bankruptcy by staging Herman Melville's classic novel in the school's swimming pool.
The Landor cast included Sarah Lark, a finalist on BBC1’s I'd Do Anything, alongside Michelle Bishop, Melanie Bright, Brendan Cull, Ben Evans, Hannah Levane, Tania Mathurin, Laura Scott, Tony Timberlake and George Ure.
UPDATED @ 6pm, Wed 20 Apr 2011: A statement issued this evening by the Landor Theatre says: “The Landor Theatre was booked as the venue for a production: that was the Landor’s only role for Moby Dick. The Landor Theatre is in no way responsible for this production, and we were not involved in the decision to cancel the show.” It continues: “We at The Landor are hugely disappointed not to be housing this exciting and innovative new production – already cast with very talented people, and already skilfully directed and choreographed by Andrew Wright.”
The Landor has now found another musical revival, Little Shop of Horrors, to fill part of the five-week gap left by the cancellation. The production, co-produced by the Landor, comes direct from its current sell-out run at the White Bear Theatre. It will run at the Landor from 5 to 21 May 2011.
NOTE: Moby Dick producer Thomas Hopkins was unavailable for comment.