With the unexpected cancellation of LOVE STORY, only weeks after it was announced, the apparent chaos in the Dutch branch of Stage Entertainment continues in full force.
In recent months, one incident quickly followed another at Stage Entertainment: a string of shows was announced and cancelled again, the managing director was replaced twice, and damaging details about the company's internal problems appeared in the Dutch business magazine "Quote".
Preceding LOVE STORY, GHOST was cancelled briefly before rehearsals were to start, BLOOD BROTHERS was withdrawn without official announcement, and VLIEG MET ME MEE (a Dutch version of ICH WAR NOCH NIEMALS IN NEW YORK, created by the German branch of Stage Entertainment) was postponed and never heard from again.
In 2011, Stage Entertainment managing director Erwin van Lambaart was sidelined and within a few months announced he would leave Stage Entertainment "to spend more time with his family". The magazine "Quote" however, stated that Van Lambaart was actually fired for mismanaging DIRTY DANCING in Germany. Van Lambaart denied and continues to deny these charges. In a bizarre move, he was succeeded by Roel Vente, the managing director and co-founder of Stage Entertainment's main competitor, V&V Entertainment. However, Vente did not last more than a year at Stage Entertainment and was succeeded by Eric Paul Dijkhuizen on August 1st of this year.
The past events evoke a picture of a company in crisis. Indeed, the financial crisis in Europe has hit Dutch commercial theatre productions hard. Audience numbers have been reported to be down, causing shows to require coupon incentives and discounts or close early. A recent survey of the musical theatre productions in the Netherlands revealed a strong decrease in the total number of productions and in the average size of the cast and orchestra compared to a few years ago.