ATG Shuts Door on West End's Whitehall Post PartyDate: 26 June 2003
In contrast to yesterday's announcement of Cameron Mackintosh's £35 million plans to refurbish his seven West End venues and to build an eighth (See News, 25 Jun 2003), fellow theatre owner the Ambassador Theatre Group (ATG) has announced that it's closing the Whitehall Theatre, resulting six staff redundancies. The 650-seat theatre will close indefinitely when the 30th anniversary revival of Abigail's Party finishes on 12 July 2003.
An ATG spokesman told Whatsonstage.com this morning that the company had no plans to sell the theatre, but was unable to give a timeframe for its reopening. He emphasised that the closure did not signal financial difficulties for the group, but was instead a matter of costs and current priorities.
ATG is about to finalise a deal to take over management of Wimbledon, adding to its existing portfolio of 20 theatres, and "we're bringing more productions into the West End than any other company." Although the redundancies were unfortunate, he said, it was important to point out that the half-dozen job losses are minimal compared to the 2,000 ATG employs across the country.
In a statement, ATG operations director David Blyth added: "We regret the redundancies at the Whitehall Theatre and would like to thank the staff for their dedication, hard work and support over the years. The decision was taken to enable us to re-evaluate our staffing overheads in London. Despite this announcement, we are satisfied with ATG's London operation and remain very optimistic about the future."
After Clear Channel Entertainment, which dominates regional theatre, ATG is the UK's second largest theatre owner. It gained the Whitehall as part of its 2000 takeover of Associated Capital Theatres. Amongst its other West End venues are the New Ambassadors, Duke of York's, Phoenix, Piccadilly, Comedy, Donmar Warehouse, Fortune and Playhouse (which it manages on behalf of Americans Ted and Norman Tulchin) Theatres as well the Albery and Wyndham's, whose leases revert to Cameron Mackintosh in 2005.
ATG's current and upcoming West End productions, many produced on its behalf by Sonia Friedman, include The Rocky Horror Show, Three Sisters, Absolutely! perhaps and transfers of Shared Experience's After Mrs Rochester and Propeller Theatre's A Midsummer Night's Dream.
- by Terri Paddock