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#KeepMusicLive: MU to picket Dirty Dancing shows

The Musicians' Union objects to the touring musical using a backing track recorded in Italy, saying "live musicians are a fundamental part of the show"

By IQ on 31 Oct 2016

Dirty Dancing, Melbourne, 2015, Tourism Victoria

Dirty Dancing in Melbourne in 2015

image © Tourism Victoria

The UK’s Musicians’ Union (MU) is to lead demonstrations against touring stage musical Dirty Dancing: The Classic Story on Stage, claiming the current production “features more recorded music and fewer live musicians than previous tours”, despite “ticket prices remain[ing] comparable with all previous tours of Dirty Dancing“.

The union will picket performances at the Derngate theatre (1,500-cap.) in Northampton tonight, the Regent (1,600-cap.) in Stoke-on-Trent on 7 November and the Wolverhampton Grand Theatre (1,200-cap.) on 28 November.

Says the MU: “An unauthorised recording, made outside of the UK, is being used in this show instead of the live band of ten or eight musicians used in previous productions. This show features only five actor-musicians and, whilst there is some live music, the majority of what is heard ‘out front’ is a pre-recorded soundtrack.

“This is not clear to the audience, who might expect the music in a theatre production to be played live. Despite this scaled-back production, ticket prices remain comparable with all previous tours of Dirty Dancing.”

“The MU believes that live theatre should be just that: live”

Horace Trubridge, the MU’s assistant general secretary, comments: “In a musical, live musicians are a fundamental part of the show – for quality, audience enjoyment and value for money. The MU fought for more live music in the current production of Dirty Dancing, but the producer refused and therefore we believe the all-important musical element of the show is compromised.

“Returning fans keen to see this show based on their enjoyment of previous tours may be disappointed to witness the apparent cost-cutting changes that have been made. The MU believes that live theatre should be just that: live.”

One of the show’s producers, Paul Elliott, disputes the claims and accuses the MU of blackmail, saying he can not see a problem with using a “fully-licensed backing track from Italy in the UK”.

“Many other shows have used tracks on tour – many without employing any live musicians – without their producers suffering any of the current actions of the Musicians’ Union towards Dirty Dancing,” he told the BBC in August.


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