An upcoming stage musical about the tragic life of Amy Winehouse has been abruptly canceled after the late singer’s father reportedly denied a historic Denmark theater permission to use her music.
The play, titled “Amy,” was slated to open Jan. 30 at the Royal Danish Theatre in central Copenhagen. However, the theater announced the show’s cancelation early Monday, according to the Associated Press. The AP reported that KODA, the agency that oversees music copyrights in Denmark, revoked a previously granted permit to use Winehouse’s music in the show.
Although the AP initially reported that the reason for KODA’s decision was unclear, a later report stated that Winehouse’s father put the brakes on the show with some lawyer-backed saber rattling. KODA granted the theater permission to perform the music back in October when the show was first announced, but Winehouse contacted the ageny sometime in the last couple of weeks to object.
“We acted in good faith when we gave them the permission for the performance," a KODA spokesperson told the AP. “We believed that the format -- a theater play -- was OK. We were told by her father and the lawyers around him that we can forget all about the rights for the music, the photos, branding and everything.”
It's unclear whether international copyright law would have permitted use of Winehouse's music for a live stage show despite Mitch's objections, but it's clear the agency was not willing to risk a pricey lawsuit.
David Pepe Birch, a spokesperson for the Royal Danish Theatre, did not respond to a request for comment. According to the French news agency AFP, however, Pepe said he was “sorry” the show had to be canceled and he did not know what the theater would put in its place.
Mitch Winehouse has been a vocal opponent of the upcoming show, calling it a “load of rubbish” and insisting it is nothing more than a money-making venture, according to Yahoo News UK. He also reportedly said he believes it’s “too soon” to produce a play about his daughter less than two years after her untimely death. The theater countered those criticisms by stating that it is a nonprofit organization and that it has a “great respect for Amy Winehouse’s tremendous talent,” Yahoo reported in October.
According to the Royal Theatre’s press notes, “Amy” focused on “the enormous pressure a sensationalist public put on a young superstar when her problems began.” The play charted her rise to pop-music superstardom, her descent into drug and alcohol addiction and her tumultuous marriage to the convicted burglar Blake Fielder-Civil, whom many in the British media blamed for introducing Winehouse to hard drugs. In his memoir, “Amy, My Daughter,” Mitch Winehouse refers to Fielder-Civil as Amy’s “scumbag” boyfriend.
Winehouse was to be played in the production by Johanne Louise Schmidt, a 29-year-old actress. The Royal Danish Theatre, first established with royal patronage in 1748, is regarded as Denmark’s national performing arts institution.
A five-time Grammy Award winner, Amy Winehouse died in her London flat on July 23, 2011, at the age of 27. An autopsy revealed her death to be the result of alcohol poisoning. Winehouse’s breakthrough 2006 album, “Back to Black,” has since become Britain’s best-selling record of the 21st century.