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Orchestra Strikes Musical, but Show Must Go On

May 1, 1987

LONDON (AP) _ ″Come hear the music play,″ goes the title song in ″Cabaret.″ But Thursday’s audience at London’s Strand Theater heard no orchestra accompanying the musical for the second straight night.

The orchestra walked out 30 minutes before Wednesday night’s curtain time to protest the firing of five musicians accused of being drunk during a performance and throwing orange peels onto the stage.

On Thursday, the musicians were on the sidewalk picketing. But inside the theater, the show went on.

″We have a musical without any music, but the singing is wonderful, and it is in the tradition of English theater,″ producer Willie Hancock told the audience of 51, who dotted the 897-seat playhouse in London’s commercial West End theater district.

On a normal weeknight, the musical about pre-war Berlin plays to between 500 and 600 people, Hancock said.

Hancock had offered the 72 people who attended Wednesday night’s show the choice of a full refund or the opportunity to see the show again at no cost if they retained their ticket stub.

For some in the audience, less was more.

″It’s great,″ said Joe McCormack, of San Francisco, Calif. ″I’m a physician. Music damages your ears.″

″The lack of music somehow added to the show’s 1930 air of surreality,″ Lynda Murdin, reviewer for the London Daily News, wrote of the Wednesday night performance.

″Cabaret,″ a revival of the Broadway musical, has been playing at the Strand since March 1986.

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