The saga between Music Theatre International(MTI) and a children's community theatre company in Virginia just keeps getting more bizarre.
Last week, MTI released a statement which countered many of the claims that Theaterpalooza owner, Teresa Walker, had made to local press outlets.
On Tuesday, Ms. Walker released another statement where she claims her company is being bullied and harassed by MTI and even going as far as invoking "fake news" in regards to what MTI has stated thus far.
The statement, obtained by OnStage Blog, was sent out to the Theaterpalooza theatre community. It stated:
I wanted to reach out to you to give you an update on what is happening at Theaterpalooza. I'm not accustomed to writing these types of emails, but I have been receiving phone calls and questions and I want you, our friends and families to know the truth.
Apparently, we've been making the news and in not a very nice way.
First of all, all of our summer camps and fall programs are all good to go. Theaterpalooza has record breaking enrollment this summer and fall and we're not going anywhere.
MTI put out a national press release that we, Theaterpalooza, are being sued.
I hate to use this term but in this case it's accurate, this is semi-fake news.
The facts are that we were contacted by MTI months ago regarding shows we have been doing for the past 10-20 years, Shows like, Cinderella and Alexander and the No Good, Very Bad Day, Charlotte's Web, Ramona the Pest, etc. There are all original shows. I personally wrote them myself. They are copyrighted shows by me or by other authors (my children), and do not belong to MTI. MTI is claiming we did their versions. We have throughout the years submitted to their attorneys proof that our shows are originals but they've continued to harass us.
The only accurate part of the claim is that we owe MTI money which we have already been in touch with their attorneys to make payment arrangements. We communicated to their attorneys that Theaterpalooza takes 100% responsibility for whatever we owe MTI and want to pay what is due.
I have saved every certified mail receipt to prove that we have, indeed, been communicating with their attorneys in Washington DC.
I was told that MTI wanted to make sure their press release was sent so that it would serve as a scare tactic for all organizations that do unlicensed work in the country. The irony is we are trying to pay them.
What is incredibly sad is that in the last ten years, I have written hundreds of press releases to all local and national news networks to receive coverage for our four years in a row of performing at Carnegie Hall. Each year we have performed original children's operas, which is practically unheard of anymore, and never been accomplished by a Loudoun County organization, much less a children's group. We accomplished this. Did we receive any news coverage? No.
Theaterpalooza gives scholarships to children in need. Last year we totaled approximately 40 scholarships in Loudoun County. Children in this community were given child care and classes who normally wouldn't be able to afford it.. Did we receive any news coverage? No.
Theaterpalooza offers a one-of-a-kind after school program. There is NOTHING LIKE IT! We offer arts-based after school with free transportation, free snacks, free private piano lessons, classes in acting, voice, dance and productions as well as visual arts in a home like atmosphere. We're starting our third year of offering this service to the community. Did we receive any news coverage? No.
The president of MTI has immediate and instant access to national news organizations. They print what he says, no questions asked and the full truth doesn't really matter. This has not been tried in a court. Theaterpalooza is literally being maligned and bullied on more than one front.
Our local competitors are out there spending more time spreading rumors than working on their own programs. They're spreading lies about our company and about me. The absolute worst part is that they have even been using their students to engage in this bullying. That breaks my heart. Look what are they teaching their children?
Bottom line, Theaterpalooza takes full responsibility for everything that we owe. We have already communicated this to their attorneys and we have proof to back up what we say.
We're very proud of our program and hope that our fabulous children and families and teaching artists will understand and stick with us because they know we do the right thing for our children every time. We're proud of our teaching artists that offer the very best to our children.
If you ever have any questions, my door is open.
Needless to say, this story keeps getting more and more interesting. Stay tuned.