‘Lion King’ show halted

Published 5:13 pm Friday, April 27, 2018

Nansemond River High School’s production of Disney’s “The Lion King” has been canceled for the remaining dates, according to a school division spokeswoman.

The school’s performing arts company had five performances of the show last week and was due to have performances on April 26, 27 and 28 this week.

However, school division spokeswoman Bethanne Bradshaw stated in an email Friday morning that “unforeseen circumstances” caused the remaining shows to be canceled.

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“On Wednesday, April 25, school division and (Nansemond River High School) administrators learned that the appropriate copyright permission had not been secured,” Bradshaw wrote. “(Suffolk Public Schools) has begun an investigation into the situation, and it is too early to answer specific legal or personnel consequences.”

Dr. Joleen Neighbours is the fine arts facilitator for Suffolk Public Schools and the theater director at the high school. Reached on her cell phone Friday afternoon, she said she did not have time to talk.

A post on the school’s website about the performances had been removed by Friday morning. Clicking on a link for the post directed browsers to a “page not found” error message.

“We are very proud of our students who did an outstanding job last week presenting two daytime performances for elementary students and three nighttime performances for the community,” Bradshaw wrote.

According to Disney Theatrical Licensing, all shows, with free or paid admission, must pay for the rights and a performance license for any show.

A performance license is required when a copyrighted show is presented in front of an audience.

Consequences for violations are expensive: fines begin at $10,000 per performance, and they can choose to pursue further damages if necessary, according to a Music Theatre International representative. Any fines or consequences can affect the organization’s ability to license other shows in the future.

The Music Theatre International representative stated that the organization could not discuss whether there had been a violation in the case of Nansemond River High School’s performances. They said they can only discuss matters with school representatives or those listed on the school’s account.