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Playful Gets West End Producing Act Together???

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Theatregoers may not always be aware of the producing credits behind the shows they see, but some recent movements in the ecology of the West End may have an impact on them whether they know it or not. Three of the key names behind Act Productions - a leading West End producer and general management company whose current credits include Legally Blonde, Wicked, Dirty Dancing and the transfer of Enron - have today announced that they’re leaving the company to set up on their own.

The three partners – Matthew Byam Shaw, Nia Janis and Nick Salmon – have set up their own company, Playful Productions, which will officially open on 26 April 2010 to “produce theatre in the West End, on tour, and on Broadway and will operate as general manager for the work of the company and for other clients”.

No word yet on what Playful’s initial projects may be, but with strong connections to leading subsidised houses including the Donmar Warehouse, Royal Court, Royal Shakespeare Company and the Lyric Hammersmith, it’s likely that top-quality drama will figure heavily on the Playful slate. One of Byam Shaw’s biggest hits to date has been Peter Morgan’s award-winning play Frost/Nixon, which he took to the Donmar as the first step on its route to the West End, Broadway and the big screen.

As for Act, its chairman Roger Wingate says it will now cease general managing on behalf of third-party producers and concentrate its future efforts on its own development and production activities. In other recent personnel changes, producer Adam Spiegel has left UK arm of Stage Entertainment, the pan-European production company whose current London properties include Hairspray and Sister Act, in order to return to independent producing. Amongst his long-running hits is Fame, which has had multiple tours and West End stints.


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