Final Curtain - Andrew Lloyd Webber has warned that the days of original shows opening on Broadway "ended long ago", with the composer calling on the industry to work together to secure a future for new work in New York’s theatre district. The composer, writing in the New York Times as his musical The Phantom of the Opera played its final performance on Broadway after 35 years, warned that the costs of running musicals in New York were so high that it was forcing producers to find shows with "small casts and minimal sets" and leading to an increase in jukebox musicals.
Writing in the paper, he said: "The era of the big original Broadway musical ended long ago. Massive hits such as Hamilton and Phantom did not originate on Broadway, unlike West Side Story and Fiddler on the Roof.
"Who is taking a risk, as Hal [Prince] did so wonderfully with Stephen Sondheim? Am I wrong in fearing that a great work like Pacific Overtures could not debut on Broadway today unless there was a stage-struck sugar daddy lurking in the wings?"
Arts Funding - Theatre and arts organisations in Northern Ireland are bracing for 10% cuts in funding following advice from the region’s Arts Council. The warning came in a letter sent to the 95 organisations in the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s Annual Funding Programme that include Belfast’s Lyric Theatre, Grand Opera House and the MAC, Northern Ireland Opera and the Ulster Orchestra. The letter told its organisations to “assume a 10% reduction in 2023-24 resource funding levels”.
It follows the announcement by the Northern Ireland Secretary of State, Chris Heaton-Harris, that “difficult choices cannot be deferred any longer” in relation to setting a budget for the region in the circumstance of the continuing collapse of its legislative Assembly.
Final Acts - Reigning Eurovision champions Kalush Orchestra and runner-up Sam Ryder will perform at the song contest's grand final in May, it has been announced. The Ukrainian band will open the final in Liverpool, while Ryder will play the first interval, the BBC said. Ryder said he "can't wait to be back amongst the beautiful chaos of it all".
The show will also see Liverpool's Sonia, who came second in 1993, join Israel's Netta and Iceland's Daoi Freyr in a celebration of the city's music. The Spaceman singer said it was an "honour to be invited back to the Eurovision stage for a second time". Ryder added that he was also looking forward to watching "the incredible artists perform this time around, while bringing you a special performance of our own".
Price Hike - Airbnb hosts in Liverpool are being warned not to try to hike prices on stays already booked ahead of the Eurovision Song Contest. Roy Henry said his host tried to raise the price from £465 to £2,046 when they realised his stay was for the event. Airbnb said it had "zero tolerance for this behaviour" and was taking action to stop hosts cancelling bookings and relisting at a higher price.
Liverpool is expecting an extra 150,000 visitors during Eurovision. All tickets have sold out for the two semis and grand final of the international music competition from 9 to 13 May. With only 84 hotels in the city centre, Airbnb partnered with Visit Liverpool to encourage more people to list their properties to help cope with the massive influx of visitors. But both organisations said they were concerned about "price gouging", where prices are increased to levels much higher than what is considered reasonable or fair.
Coronation Kyrie - Sir Bryn Terfel will sing a Welsh language song at the coronation of King Charles III. Buckingham Palace said the performance will be the first in the Welsh language at a coronation. The Welsh bass-baritone will sing alongside the Choir of Westminster Abbey at the service on 6 May. They will perform Coronation Kyrie, described by its composer Paul Mealor as a "cry from the deep soul of the hills and valleys of Wales".
Then Play On - A 95-year-old cornet player has been honoured with a Guinness world record for his lifelong love of music. Tom Street, 95, from Heage in Derbyshire, has been named as the longest-serving man to play in a brass band. Mr Street, who has been a member of Heage Silver Band for 82 years, was presented with the accolade by his 21-year-old grandson Louis.
(Jim Evans)
18 April 2023

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