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June 27, 2013

Who wrote 'Greasy Pole, The Musical' play?

Show debuts tonight amid collaborators' dispute over receipts

The show “Greasy Pole, The Musical” will go on, starting tonight.

But the popular Fiesta show has left a trail of tension between two local arts collaborators and business partners.

This is the third year of the show, which was conceived by Henry Allen, but is also the result of a collaboration of local talent, including Robert Newton, who heads up Cape Ann Community Cinema and was Allen’s former business partner in the now closed Cape Ann Theater, referred to as “The Annie,” in the downtown Blackburn Building.

As the show prepares for its next staging of a story that evolves each year about the St. Peter’s Fiesta, Newton has raised concerns and challenges over songs for which he wrote the lyrics and that, he says, have been used without his permission.

He wrote the words for four songs in the original “Greasy Pole: The Musical.” Those songs are titled: “Don’t Forget The Cannoli,” “I Ain’t No Saint,” “Welcome To Fiesta,” and “We Will All Walk Together (When We Walk).”

Newton noted that Everett Harlow, the musical director for the 2011 run, wrote the chord charts based on his melodies for three of those songs.

“These four songs are my intellectual property ... all registered with the Library of Congress, and I did not give permission for them to be performed beyond the 2011 incarnation,” said Newton.

Allen sees it another way.

“He was not the sole writer of any song,” Allen said. “There is not one piece in the show that wasn’t collaborative. In the beginning, there was an understanding from the creative team — who created the music, lyrics and dialogue — that this was a gift to the community.

“Nobody received any remuneration. Greasy Pole is a popular success but it’s not a financial success because every ticket is a donation,” Allen said. “I believe theater should be accessible to everyone, if a family of five can only afford so much, that is fine.”

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