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Tuesday, 29 January, 2002, 12:12 GMT
Fry launches theatre fund group
Fry: New company's chairman is talking up West End's prospects
Fry: Chairman is talking up West End's prospects
Some of the biggest names in UK theatre including Andrew Lloyd Webber and Stephen Fry are appealing to wealthy stage fans to back a new company that will share the risk of putting on costly stage productions.

Theatreshare, headed by Fry and allied with Lloyd Webber's Really Useful Group, hopes to become a major player in the West End.

Andrew Lloyd Webber is a director of Theatreshare
Andrew Lloyd Webber is a director of Theatreshare
It is planning to develop, produce or co-produce a number of plays and musicals in the hope that the recovery in ticket sales following the post-11 September slump continues.

Potential supporters, who will be asked to contribute a minimum of 2,500, are being wooed with promises of a share in potential profits from ticket sales, theatre transfers and film and TV adaptations.

Theatreshare will be involved in staging Lloyd Webber's latest musical Bombay Dreams. Lloyd Webber is also a director of the company.

It will also have a role in the London run of hit Broadway musical The Producers and the stage version of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang as well as Madness musical Our House.

"Commercial theatre is one of Britain's great success stories," said Fry, the company's chairman who is better known as an actor and comedian.

Theatreshare will help bring The Producers to London
Theatreshare will help bring The Producers to London
Almost 12 million people saw West End shows last year, he said.

"Whether the attraction is a new Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, a Hollywood star on Shaftesbury Avenue or an extraordinary event like Stones in his Pockets, the demand, from Londoners and visitors, is enormous and there to be fed," he added.

But there have been fears that dropping visitor numbers after 11 September would continue to have an effect on ticket sales.

Andre Ptaszynski, currently chief executive of Really Useful Theatres, will be Theatreshare's managing director.

Really Useful Theatres owns 13 theatres in London's West End, which will provide homes for Theatreshare productions.

'Future'

"Really Useful Theatres has one of the most successful track records of theatre ownership and productions in the world," said Mr Ptaszynski.

"At the same time, investors will be helping guarantee the future of playwriting and production not only in London but in the regions and overseas," he added.

Other directors will include Nicola Horlick, dubbed "superwoman" after making millions of pounds in the London financial sector while raising six children.

Stars backing the project include Clive Anderson, Richard Curtis, Dawn French, Maureen Lipman, Fiona Shaw and Richard Wilson.

See also:

15 Jan 02 | Showbiz
Record-breaking Cats bows out
03 Jan 02 | Showbiz
Broadway suffers ticket slump
28 Dec 01 | Arts
The show must go on
22 Oct 01 | Showbiz
West End still drawing crowds
03 Sep 01 | Showbiz
Sir Cameron: West End 'dowdy'
21 Aug 01 | Showbiz
Lloyd Webber's musical journey
19 Jul 01 | Arts
West End musical chairs
04 Jun 01 | Arts
Musical makes Broadway history
07 Mar 00 | South Asia
Lloyd Webber's Bollywood dream
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