The South African musical Umoja, has been forced to close this afternoon after The Shaftesbury Theatre was served a Noise Abatement Notice by Camden Borough Council.

People living near the Shaftesbury Theatre have said that the noise of the show's drumming is impossible to live with. Environmental officers from Camden Council visited neighbouring flats in King Edward Mansions and confirmed there is a "statutory noise nuisance".

The Society for London Theatre says that "the management of the Shaftesbury Theatre has for some years been seeking to resolve the issue of noise as it affects the four flats with which the theatre has a party wall; and it has spent over a quarter of a million pounds on remedial works. Throughout this period it has sought round-table discussions at a senior level with Camden and other interested parties in an attempt to find a long-term solution; but Camden has repeatedly declined to respond. Even during the critical period of the last few days, senior officers have been unwilling to find time for a meeting. They have been equally unwilling to discuss the possibility of a compromise to the immediate problem. In consequence, the West End has lost a major show prematurely, the 40-strong cast of Umoja are left without a theatre in which to perform and the jobs of the Shaftesbury’s 55 staff are at risk."

Umoja was well received by the popular press when it opened last November ….. THE STAGE said, “A truly magnificent display of South African song and dance.” THE TIMES said, “The dancing is well drilled, the singing strong and a five-piece band is on the mark.” THE GUARDIAN said, “This celebration of South African music and black spirit breezes into the West End like a breath of fresh air.

The show, which was taking bookings to May 2002, will try and get the decision overturned.

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