Year of the Producer: Adam Spiegel’s Eureka Moment for Midnight Tango

Adam Spiegel formed his own theatre production company in 1996 and has produced extensively in London’s West End, on UK tour and internationally.

Credits include, in the West End, Saturday Night Fever, Fame, The Mysteries, Birdy, as well as Amadeus (Wilton’s Music Hall), Promises Promises (Sheffield Theatres) and Five Guys Named Moe (UK Tour).

Adam Spiegel Productions was acquired in 2006 and, as part of Stage Entertainment, he has produced Hairspray (West End), High School Musical Live On Stage! (Hammersmith Apollo and UK tour), Strictly Come Dancing Live! (UK arena tour), Sister Act (West End), High School Musical 2 (UK tour) and Love Story (West End).

He also produced the annual Laurence Olivier Awards for the Society of London Theatre from 2004 to 2008, and has acted as an Arts Consultant for The Sunday Times and Tate Britain.

Here, as part of our ongoing Year of the Producer series, Spiegel tells us the ‘Eureka Moment’ he decided to back the current West End dance show Midnight Tango, which stars Strictly Come Dancing dancers Vincent Simone and Flavia Cacace and is co-produced by former Strictly
judge Arlene Phillips. The production, which opens tonight (31 January 2012, previews from 20 January), plays for a limited season at
the Aldwych Theatre to 31 March.

Adam Spiegel: When I was working at Stage Entertainment, we came up with the idea of doing a live show using the professional dancers from Strictly Come Dancing called The Professionals. While I was doing that, I met Vincent and Flavia. I was always aware that the little Argentine tangos they did on Strictly each season were completely unique: visceral, passionate and virtuosic. So I had the idea to put the two of them in a tango show.

But I didn’t want it to be an exhibition, I wanted it to come out of its own world theatrically. Historically, a lot of tango shows have just been an opportunity to do tricks – after two hours of that, all you think is, that’s a lot of tango. But I think, if the dancing takes place within a very loose narrative, but in a very specific world, it becomes much more exciting and much more interesting. And it gives the dance a reason. The dancing should mean something; it’s a physical expression of emotion.

So I spoke to Vincent and Flavia about it and they seemed very keen. Then I approached Arlene Phillips, who is an old friend of mine and who is obviously very linked both to British dance and to Strictly. I asked if she wanted to co-produce it with me, which she did, so then the two of us approached Karen Bruce, who’s directing. We still didn’t have a name. While I was on holiday with my family, after an afternoon of drinking wine, I got an email saying that the brochure for Southampton was going to print and they needed a title for the show. We had decided it would be set in a bar in Buenos Aires in an evening and then it hit me, “Oh, we’ll call it Midnight Tango”.

A scene from Midnight Tango

We launched on tour in March/April last year and, I remember, the moment it went on sale with the venue brochures, it performed unusually well in the box office. We were all delighted obviously, but also surprised at the speed at which people responded to the idea. The West End wasn’t a given. For some odd programming reasons, our first tour date was the Jersey Opera House, which is a tiny 600-seat theatre on one of the Channel Islands. The following week we were at the Mayflower Theatre in Southampton which has 2,300 seats. From those two, I could see that the material and the performances worked in pretty much any environment. And that’s when I started to investigate bringing it to the West End.

It takes quite a long time to get the theatre and book everything. The difficulty with Vincent and Flavia is planning around their Strictly Come Dancing filming. So that first tour ended, then they had five months of Strictly. We now have them for ten weeks in London and another 14 weeks on the road again this year. Then they’re filming again and we’ll see after that. But this show has already proven that it’s got a long life.

Midnight Tango opens on 31 January 2012 (previews from 20 January) at the West End’s Aldwych Theatre, where it’s booking until 31 March.