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10 May 2010 @ 06:40 pm
Row threatens to dethrone Priscilla

A row between the producers of the stage adaptation of the hit movie The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert is threatening to derail the show's looming launch on Broadway.

The Australian has learnt that during a fiery exchange last week, Michael Hamlyn, who instigated the musical, privately threatened co-producers Liz Koops and Garry McQuinn with court action if they did not release the accounts from its West End season.

It is understood Hamlyn's concerns relate to the length of time it has taken to see a return on the investment, given the show is playing to packed houses in London.

The dispute has become so serious at least one member of the broader production team fears for Priscilla's future.

"It's pretty ugly at this moment, as ugly as it's ever been," the source told The Australian.

Mr Hamlyn could not be reached for comment, but Mr McQuinn denied any wrongdoing and said the dispute had arisen because members of the production team had different levels of experience, which often led to misunderstandings.

He said Mr Hamlyn had questions about the finances that were legitimate and would be answered, and he was sure it would be resolved amicably. He didn't expect the West End production to turn a profit for another year.

The most recent Australian musical to have a hit West End run is Dirty Dancing, the success of which last year led in part to the implosion of showbiz family the Jacobsens. "We are not the Jacobsens," Mr McQuinn said.

Sydney music promoter Michael Chugg, one of the producers of Priscilla, does not want the matter to end up in court.

"He (Michael Hamlyn) has just got a whole lot of queries and they've just got to work their way through it," Mr Chugg said, adding that Ms Koops and Mr McQuinn had his full support. "They are perfectionists - it's one of the reasons I'm involved."

The $6.5 million musical made a profit from its 2 1/2-year Australian season before being revamped for a pound stg. 4m premiere in London's West End where, since opening in March last year, it has prevailed at the 1300-seat Palace Theatre despite the recession and initial wan reviews.

Acclaimed Australian performer Tony Sheldon has starred in the show as Bernadette in Sydney, Melbourne, Auckland and the first year in the West End - and has been selected to do so again for its Broadway premiere scheduled for next March.