The truth had to come out at some point my dears – and I feel now the time is right. I, West End Producer, the masked man of theatre…
…am actually Bill Kenwright.
God it feels good to get that off my chest.
Yes, I know to some of you this will come as a shock. Why on earth did you do it Kenwright - and why have you decided to reveal yourself now?
Three years ago, I just wanted a bit more excitement in my life. I'd got a few shows on in town (most of which bored me), Everton weren't doing particularly well, I'd had an argument with Lloyd Webber about the size of Joseph's coat - so I decided to be naughty. A friend who works in PR (okay, my nephew) introduced me to Twitter, and together we came up with an idea: I would create an eccentric old man that tweeted his thoughts, allowing me to inject a bit of online fun into the often too serious world of theatre.
Of course the main reason for starting WEP was to use him as a marvellous marketing tool for my shows. Each tweet now goes out to over 40,000 people - and it doesn't cost me a penny. Free marketing = happy Kenwright!
And while promoting my shows has been tremendously positive and powerful, even more exciting has been writing what I think about other people's shows. Of course no-one knew it was me - so I had huge fun poking fun at Lloyd Webber and BigMac Cameron's shows (all done in the best possible taste, dear).
Getting dressed in my outfits and mask at press nights has been wonderful. The anonymity has allowed me to talk and fool many of my theatrical friends (occasionally even convincing them to buy me more Dom).
Also - a little secret - every time I've been to a press night I've always worn my Everton FC kit underneath my jacket - which has been a delicious little treat. In fact, since I'm being truthful I may as well admit that I wear my Everton FC kit under whatever I'm wearing in normal life. And why? Because I'm the Chairman and I can.
So why come out of the closet now? Well, frankly it all just got too much for me. The mask was getting old and making my face age even more prematurely. And to be honest, I must admit that recently the whole tweeting thing and writing my book, Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Acting, has taken up a little too much of my time. Dear Jenny has started scolding me for tweeting in bed, so I felt I had to stop. The Kenwright bed is there for many purposes, least importantly for tweeting.
Am I going to miss being West End Producer? Yes. It has been a blast. I have been leading a double latex life, and have been able to say exactly what I want about the business – even poking fun at myself (well, we've all got to poke fun at Dreamboats and Petticoats haven't we?!). And of course I'm going to miss those cosy nights in with my Jean Valjean teddy and Miss Saigon blow-up doll.
So for now I am going to hang up the mask, the jacket, and my tweeting gloves. But, Lloyd Webber or Cameron: if either of you want to take over the West End Producer role, I will gladly send the outfit and Twitter password over.
Thank you all for enjoying the West End Producer ride with me.
Billy / West End Producer
PS If you've read this far you may have already guessed that this was an April Fools' Day joke, dears. Meet West End Producer in person at the National Theatre Bookshop on Saturday 5 April 2014, between 1-3pm
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