August 8, 2022


“Theatre is completely distinctive… there’s merely nothing else fairly prefer it”: An interview with Sir Howard Panter as the brand new forged of Jersey Boys opens at Trafalgar Theatre

August marks one yr since Trafalgar Leisure reopened their newly renovated Trafalgar Theatre (beforehand Trafalgar Studios) and with it introduced Jersey Boys again to the West Finish stage. This week the manufacturing opened with a brand new forged, internet hosting a gala night time to showcase the group.

The Upcoming had been delighted to talk to producer of the present and proprietor of the theatre Sir Howard Panter about all issues Jersey Boys and Trafalgar Leisure.

For the readers who don’t know you, might you inform us a bit about your self?

I’m Howard Panter, a theatre producer, theatre proprietor and lifelong theatre fan! Together with my spouse and enterprise companion, Rosemary Squire, we’re the joint CEOs of Trafalgar Leisure, a worldwide reside leisure enterprise centered on new productions, venue possession (15 theatres within the UK and Australia), performing arts training and the distribution of live-streaming revolutionary content material.

Earlier than Trafalgar Leisure, Rosie and I constructed from scratch and ran, for its first 25 years, the world’s largest and most profitable reside theatre companies – the Ambassador Theatre Group. Theatre is our life, and the best reward of all is conserving folks entertained, night time after night time. Theatre is completely distinctive: it’s a shared reside expertise, it brings folks collectively and there’s merely nothing else fairly prefer it. My love for the business goes again a great distance, with over 40 years of expertise gained in organisations such because the Royal Court docket Theatre, the Royal Shakespeare Firm and Michael Codron Ltd. I’ve additionally been concerned in different methods, as chairman of the English Shakespeare Firm and director of West Finish theatre house owners Maybox Group PLC. As chairman of Rambert Dance Firm, the UK’s main nationwide up to date dance firm, we efficiently constructed an award-winning new dance centre on the South Financial institution, main the corporate into a brand new period of success and stability. I’m additionally director of the Rocky Horror Firm Restricted (a present which I am keen on!) and chairman of the Birmingham Rep Theatre.

How was Trafalgar Leisure born?

In 2016, Rosie and I took a step again from ATG to concentrate on new initiatives. Nonetheless obsessed with theatre and the supply of distinctive reside experiences, we needed to increase additional into the leisure sector, not solely by producing theatre exhibits for the stage however by means of the distribution of specialized content material to cinemas worldwide and the nurturing of recent theatre expertise by means of performing arts training. With that in thoughts, Rosie and I co-founded TE in 2017, with the acquisition of Trafalgar Studios (now Trafalgar Theatre) and the acquisition of Picturehouse Leisure – recognized now as Trafalgar Releasing – which operates in additional than 120 nations worldwide. A yr later, we bought the worldwide model, Stagecoach Performing Arts, the UK market chief in extra-curricular performing arts tuition with over 2,000 faculties and lessons and over 60,000 college students within the UK and worldwide. Each Trafalgar Releasing and Stagecoach fashioned the constructing blocks of TE and would have an enormous affect on the place the enterprise would go subsequent. The corporate was born out of a lifelong love for theatre and leisure. 

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What’s your TEG Manufacturing bucket checklist of exhibits?

Now we have quite a lot of new musical initiatives within the works, together with a serious Hollywood movie adaptation. And, following the large success of Something Goes, we’re producing this nice present globally.

When you’ve agreed on a present, how lengthy does the method often take, from script to stage?

For a musical, it may be something from one to 3 years. For a play, it may be a a lot faster turnaround – a matter of months from resolution to rehearsal. All of it relies on the dimensions of the present and when the persons are accessible in addition to the theatre.

Why did you select to revive Jersey Boys? What drew you to that script?

I really like Jersey Boys! It’s a incredible, feel-good present with timeless songs akin to Beggin’, Sherry, Stroll Like A Man, and Oh What a Night time – songs which are engrained in common music. And we’ve labored with the present’s producers earlier than on a earlier manufacturing. The inventive group behind the unique Jersey Boys manufacturing, led by Tony award-winning director Des McAnuff and Tony award-winning choreographer Sergio Trujillo, have reunited for the brand new profitable London manufacturing. Written by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, with music by Bob Gaudio and lyrics by Bob Crewe, the musical is predicated on the rise of Frankie Valli and the 4 Seasons. 

Jersey Boys can also be an ideal story of survival and overcoming the percentages, and I believe that it’s actually essential within the present local weather, following Covid and all the things else happening on the planet, to have optimistic, uplifting true tales. We thought that it was the type of the present that may deliver a way of confidence and a way of wellbeing again to the West Finish, and it was the right present to reopen Trafalgar Theatre, following a multimillion-pound renovation mission to return the theatre to its Nineteen Thirties artwork deco glory. The theatre is now residence to the London manufacturing of Jersey Boys and audiences are loving it! The present is now celebrating its one-year anniversary of efficiency at Trafalgar Theatre this week. Alongside the anniversary celebrations, we’re welcoming new forged members to the present. Luke Suri, lately the alternate Frankie Valli within the UK and Eire tour of the manufacturing, made his West Finish debut within the position in July. Luke joins Adam Bailey as Bob Gaudio, Karl James Wilson as Nick Massi, and Benjamin Yates as Tommy De Vito, who’re all persevering with on the present. 

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What has been your involvement in choosing this new forged? 

We had been very eager to provide new graduate performers a possibility to return into this thrilling contemporary new manufacturing of Jersey Boys for the West Finish. There’s a enormous quantity of expertise within the UK, and we needed to provide them an opportunity to play these iconic roles within the crimson jackets alongside some extra established performers within the different roles.

Are you able to inform us a bit concerning the efforts TEG is making to advertise variety in theatre?

Our regional venues have been performing some nice local people actions, offering totally different cultural occasions while providing inventive and interesting content material to interact and encourage new audiences. For instance, lately, the Beck Theatre in Hayes, West London, has seen a considerable evolution in its demographics and now sits as one of the crucial various areas in West London. The Beck group has more and more labored instantly with various artists to create reside exhibits for the stage which are culturally related to its viewers. This has seen them current some extraordinary occasions and quickly construct new audiences in a brief house of time. Throughout Pleasure month, the Chiswick Cinema supported the West London Queer Mission, and the Orchard Theatre in Dartford hosted the primary ever Dartford Pleasure occasion, amongst different initiatives. We’ve additionally been working with faculty programmes to lift consciousness of alternatives inside the business, and now we have an EDI coverage in place together with a working group from throughout all areas of the enterprise to make sure we’re focussed on continuous enchancment round this space.

What recommendation would you give to somebody seeking to observe in your footsteps?

Relationships are important to all the things. Attempt to construct relationships with folks you respect and also you assume you’ll develop lifelong working relationships with. Michael Codron was crucial to me; I labored with him as an organization stage supervisor, and he knew what he was doing and was proper on the centre of recent writing. It was an ideal expertise working with somebody who actually understood how the business theatre labored – he’s unrivalled, nonetheless, as a play producer in his lifetime. Dedication, resilience and perception in your self are different highly effective attributes that may serve you nicely. 

What does a typical day appear like for you?

We begin by reviewing the gross sales from yesterday throughout all our exhibits and venues – the very best information to what’s working and what audiences are having fun with. Then, there’s more likely to be a schedule of conferences with colleagues throughout our manufacturing, advertising and growth departments; doubtlessly a lunch or espresso with a key collaborator (one other producer, director or even perhaps performers) adopted by an opportunity to work on any extra detailed factors arising from the morning within the afternoon. Within the night, I’m usually assembly collaborators or maybe taking key traders or friends to see a present. The job is all about collaboration with folks!

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Are you able to recall the second you determined to observe this profession path?

My love for theatre has been a lifelong ardour. From my early days as a budding producer to constructing two of the world’s greatest leisure firms. My first unpaid job was as a drummer for the group the Norsemen in Iwerne Minster, Dorset. Certainly one of my earliest jobs was as a lighting designer with the London Up to date Dance Theatre. From there, I pursued a profession in stage administration with the Royal Court docket Theatre after which went on to work for Woodfall Movies, the place, in 1969, I labored as affiliate director on a manufacturing of Hamlet, starring Nicol Williamson as Hamlet and Marianne Faithfull as Ophelia. At LAMDA I used to be stage supervisor, manufacturing supervisor, lighting designer and designer – all the things; on the London Up to date Dance Firm. I used to be all of the technical and design departments rolled into one. All these roles set me on my theatre journey. 

What are your hopes for TEG within the subsequent 5 years?

Following the opening of our first worldwide venue, Theatre Royal Sydney, final yr, a precedence is to develop the theatre panorama in Australia, and collaborate with main producers and promoters throughout our business networks worldwide to ascertain a various programme of first-class theatre productions throughout Australia and the broader Asia-Pacific area. The plan goals to extend our manufacturing output, develop new venues and produce the perfect of worldwide and Australian theatre to the folks of Australia. Within the UK, a principal focus for us would be the growth of Olympia Theatre in London, which would be the greatest new everlasting 1,575-seat theatre to open in London for the reason that Nineteen Seventies, as a part of the £1.3 billion Olympia growth. Our acquisition of the 70-year lease to function the theatre is a part of a broader ambition by TE to create new venues of nationwide stature. However we’re all the time looking out for brand new funding or acquisition alternatives, whether or not that’s within the UK or abroad. Now we have an ideal group of individuals working with us on enterprise growth initiatives and now we have some formidable plans for the corporate’s future progress. 

If our readers needed to get in contact, the place might they go?

Readers can get in contact through the contact type on our web site www.trafalgarentertainment.com.

Natallia Pearmain

Jersey Boys is at Trafalgar Theatre from 10th August till 30th April 2023. For additional data or to e-book go to the theatre’s web site right here.

Learn our ideas after the opening gala right here.

Watch a trailer for the present right here: