Cousens Makes Cuts in Australian Company, Angers Composer and Apologizes

News   Cousens Makes Cuts in Australian Company, Angers Composer and Apologizes
An Australian production of Company — presented by Kookaburra, The National Musical Theatre Company — ruffled some feathers last week when Peter Cousens, the company's founder and chief executive, ordered cuts to the show without approval from the show's creators or the organization that licensed the musical.

The drama, according to the Sydney Morning Herald, began when Christie Whelan, who portrays the role of April, was too ill to perform at the July 18 performance. Because Whelan had no understudy, Cousens decided to cut a scene and two songs from the Tony-winning musical rather than cancel the performance. Cut songs included "You Could Drive a Person Crazy" and "Barcelona."

When Stephen Sondheim, who wrote the score to George Furth's book for Company, heard about the cuts made to his show, he threatened to shut down the production and demanded a public apology, the Herald states. Cousens, who originally denied ordering the cuts, offered a different statement to the Herald July 20: "I instructed the director, musical director, cast and crew to make cuts to the show, and of course it was my decision to keep the curtain up. . . Kookaburra celebrates the work of Stephen Sondheim and George Furth and apologises for interfering with the integrity of their work."

Cousens also announced that a special performance of Company will be presented July 31 that will benefit the Actors Benevolent Fund and Oz Show Biz Cares, a charity that was chosen by Sondheim. Those who attended the cut performance July 18 are also invited to attend the charity performance or "any other performance of their choosing," according to Cousens' statement.

The July 19 performance was canceled to allow Chloe Dallimore, Whelan's replacement, a chance to learn the role. The July 20 performance was also canceled when Pippa Grandison, another actor in the show, suffered a migraine.

David Campbell, who starred in the New York premiere of Stephen Sondheim's early effort Saturday Night, heads the cast of Company as the soul-searching bachelor Bobby. Directed by Gale Edwards with choreography by John O'Connell, the production is currently scheduled to run through Aug. 4. For more information visit

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