The Week in Light & Sound
Tuesday, 10 March 2020
Festival Update - Live music and media festival South by Southwest (SXSW) has been cancelled due to coronavirus fears. Organisers of the annual event in Austin, Texas, said they had no choice but to call it off for the first time in its 34-year history. The move was ordered by Austin mayor Steve Adler, who declared "a local disaster".
In a statement on Friday, SXSW said it was "devastated" by the news, but respected the decision. Event organisers said: "'The show must go on' is in our DNA, and this is the first time in 34 years that the March event will not take place. We are now working through the ramifications of this unprecedented situation." Some of the event's biggest exhibitors - including Apple, Amazon, Twitter and Facebook - had already pulled out.
Last year SXSW drew nearly 74,000 people with over 19,000 coming from outside the US. In 2018, visitors spent $350m (£270m) during the festival, according to a study commissioned by event organisers.
Several other large tech conferences have been cancelled in recent weeks including Google's Cloud Next conference, Mobile World Congress and the Game Developers conference.
Theatre Update - Andrew Lloyd Webber has delayed the West End premiere of his new musical adaptation of Cinderella until October. A statement from the composer said: “The show will go on sale next week as planned, but in the current global circumstances the creative team and I feel that this later opening date is wise.”
The postponement came as the Society of London Theatre issued a statement on the coronavirus outbreak, which said there is “currently no clear rationale to cancel events”. SOLT and UK Theatre said the bodies were in contact with the government to ensure the most up-to-date advice is available for the theatre industry. A statement said: “Official advice states that there is currently no clear rationale to cancel events or postpone international travel, and the government encourages business as usual.
“We will continue to monitor the situation, plan for every eventuality and share government, NHS and Public Health England guidance with the theatre industry and our audiences.”
Economic Uncertainty - Chester’s Storyhouse has postponed the opening of two in-house shows that were due to premiere in May, blaming “economic uncertainty” resulting from coronavirus. Storyhouse will delay Brewster’s Millions and Antigone, until the autumn.
Chief executive Andrew Bentley stressed the move was financial rather than driven by health and safety. “Like all young producers we are susceptible to this situation. This is a big investment for us: we need to protect our position and plan carefully for every eventuality. These shows will absolutely go ahead but can wait until the autumn. Thankfully we are a very nimble company and well placed to respond to these kind of developments.”
Olivier Awards - Lyricist Don Black has been announced as the recipient of the special award at this year’s Oliviers. In a career spanning six decades, Black has written lyrics for theatre productions including Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Aspects of Love and Whistle Down the Wind, and for music artists including Quincy Jones, Lulu, Meat Loaf and Michel Legrand. The Olivier Awards 2020 will take place at the Royal Albert Hall in London on 5 April.
What’s New Pussycat? - A new musical featuring the songs of Tom Jones is to premiere at Leeds Playhouse. What’s New Pussycat? features a book by Joe DiPietro, choreography by Arlene Phillips and will be directed by Luke Sheppard. The musical is set in the 60s and inspired by Henry Fielding’s 1749 novel, The History of Tom Jones, A Foundling. Set design is by Jon Bausor, lighting is by Howard Hudson and sound is by Gareth Owen.
In The Courts - Led Zeppelin have triumphed in a long-running copyright dispute after a US appeals court ruled they did not steal the opening riff in Stairway To Heaven. The British band were accused in 2014 of ripping off a song called Taurus by the US band Spirit in 1968, three years before Stairway To Heaven. Now, the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco has upheld a 2016 trial verdict that found Led Zeppelin did not copy it.
(Jim Evans)
10 March 2020

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