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Business News (more headlines) 04-19-2014

MU Challenges The Royal National Theatre's Attempt To Replace The War Horse Band With A Recording

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The MU is supporting the five musicians engaged on the acclaimed musical production War Horse, (Neyire Ashworth, Andrew Callard, Jonathan Eddie, David Holt, and Colin Rae) in their application for an Interim Injunction seeking enforcement of the contracts between them and the Royal National Theatre (RNT). A hearing took place at the Royal Courts of Justice yesterday and the judgement will be received by both parties on Tuesday 15 April 2014.

An attempt was made to dismiss the band by the RNT last month but the MU and the musicians do not accept that. The musicians chose to affirm their contracts and continue to be ready, willing and able to carry out their duties. They believe that their contracts cannot be terminated until the closure of the production of War Horse. If they are granted the injunction, they will remain engaged to play their instruments on the show and the matter can then be determined by the court at a final hearing.

War Horse is a musical production and the five piece band has been an integral part of its success since its inception at the Royal National Theatre's Olivier Theatre in 2007. The RNT intends to replace the live band with a recording.

Nick Starr, who will be standing down as Executive Director later this year, has threatened to make the band redundant on several occasions since 2009. The Musicians' Union asserts that this would be a breach of their collective bargaining agreement with the Society of London Theatre (SOLT), of which the RNT and New London Theatre are both members. The issue went to conciliation in 2013 and a board comprised of an equal number of SOLT and MU representatives found in favour of the Union and its members.

The Royal National Theatre has had a much-celebrated commercial success with this production. The War Horse band members have the full weight of the Union behind them and the firm support of their colleagues working in musical productions across London's West End and beyond.

Horace Trubridge, Assistant General Secretary of the MU, said "We are challenging this attempt to dismiss the band as it is both a flagrant breach of our agreement with the Society as well as a breach of the musicians' individual contracts. Moreover, the MU believes that live theatre should be just that, 'live', and War Horse audiences should be made aware that the music in the production no longer fits that description when they come and see the show."

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