Theatre News

Theatre producer and Everton chairman Bill Kenwright has died aged 78

The producer was responsible for many major productions during his career

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Bill Kenwright, © Dan Wooller

Venue owner, theatrical producer, director and Everton football chairman Bill Kenwright has died aged 78.

Liverpool-born Kenwright was responsible for some of the largest and most-watched stage shows in the last 50 years of UK theatre, including productions of Blood Brothers (which ran in the West End for 24 years) and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. 

Recent shows included the award-winning Heathers the Musical, as well as Rob Madge’s multi-award-winning My Son’s A Queer (But What Can You Do?), which is now set to transfer. Other West End shows have included Cabaret, Evita, The Exorcist, Foxfinder, The Best Man, The Pitmen Painters and Whistle Down the Wind. 

Kenwright was no stranger to Broadway, having picked up four Tony Awards for his transfer of A Doll’s House starring Janet McTeer, as well as Medea with Diana Rigg.

Kenwright was also the owner of Theatre Royal Windsor, and recently acquired The Other Palace in central London, currently home to the Ian McKellen and Roger Allam-led Frank and Percy, which continues until December.

A statement from Kenwright’s family reads: “Jenny Seagrove, Lucy Kenwright and everyone at Bill Kenwright Ltd are devastated to share the sad news of the loss of a beloved partner, father, grandfather and friend: Bill Kenwright CBE. Following a long battle with illness Bill passed away peacefully last night, surrounded by his family and loved ones. Bill was driven by his passions and devoted his life to them; his deep love of theatre, film, music and his beloved Everton, and the families they created.

“He impacted the lives of thousands, whether that be through the launching of careers or his unending loyalty, generosity and unfaltering friendship and support. In a multi-award-winning career spanning six decades, Bill produced over 500 West End, Broadway, UK touring and international theatre productions, films and music albums. His impact on the arts industry has been profound. During his time as majority shareholder and chairman of Everton FC, Bill led the club through a period of unprecedented change in English football.

“We will remember him with huge love and admiration – the shows will of course go on, as he would have wished, and his towering legacy will continue. A celebration of Bill’s life and career will be announced in due course. At this very difficult time we ask for privacy and respect for Bill’s family and friends.”