After we broke the news on Saturday that the Les Miserables original London cast are currently locked in a row regarding royalty payments on their recording, actors' union Equity have responded to First Night Records' accusation that the original contract was "silly".
"We do not believe it is 'silly' nor do we believe that First Night Records are interpreting it correctly," British Equity told us this morning. "We are currently taking legal advice on that."
Sources close to the original cast tell us that the recording contract was first mooted when the show opened in 1985 and received bad notices from critics. The cast were urged to accept the contract in order to produce a recording for posterity as the show was receiving such poor critical reaction that it was expected to close soon.
The Independent on Sunday reported yesterday that First Night Records would now like to "renegotiate a contract with more sensible clauses".
"Equity welcomes John Craig’s public commitment to renegotiate this contract," said a spokesman. "We believe that talks involving First Night Records and others that will clarify the right for performers to continue to benefit from the sale of their work beyond 25 years would be helpful for everyone. We have been trying to get these talks started since before Christmas but thus far without success, but John’s statement yesterday gives us new hope."
BWW:UK understands that other original cast recordings, made at a similar time to the Les Miserables OCR with other labels, have had similar contracts but are continuing to pay royalties to performers. "We'd like FNR to follow this precedent - continue to pay the royalties until the contract has been renegotiated," said one source close to the company.
The Les Miserables original cast recording is First Night Records' best-selling album, and have also recorded every show Sir Cameron Mackintosh has produced in London.
The Les Miserables original cast were expecting an increase in royalty payments after the success of the 25th anniversary concert, where they made a guest appearance for a token amount, and due to the buzz around the forthcoming movie, starring Hugh Jackman.