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Obituary: John Toogood – Theatre administrator and manager who oversaw a series of iconic West End shows

John Toogood. Photo: Sarah Raymond

John Toogood’s first encounter with the stage as the middle legs of a dragon in the Theatre Royal, Lincoln’s 1958 pantomime was an inauspicious beginning for a man who later became a leading West End figure and popular chair of the Stage Management Association.

The son of Lincoln antique dealers, he spent much of his teenage years working with the city’s titular theatre company alongside his sister Susan (who became a dancer with the television ensemble Young Generation) before training at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School.

After graduating in 1966, he spent five years at Liverpool Playhouse in various roles including stage director, production manager and company manager before spending a season at Greenwich Theatre.

In 1972, he began a nationwide tour of Peter Pan (initially with Lulu and later Anita Harris) followed by spells in regional theatres including Margate and Cheltenham. His first job in the West End, where he took up virtually permanent residence for the rest of his career, was at the Whitehall Theatre in 1974.

In the decade ahead, he worked in the Windmill and Phoenix theatres and as production manager of the London Palladium. Notable among the many high-profile productions he was involved with were Evita, Chess, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and The King and I, starring Hollywood icon Yul Brynner.

In 1986, he was appointed general manager of Delfont-Mackintosh when he took on direct responsibility for running the Prince Edward and Prince of Wales theatres and managed national and international tours.

An active member of the Stage Management Association throughout his career, he was appointed chair of its board in 1984 and continued to serve in various capacities until retiring in 2001. He received the organisation’s David Ayliff Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2016. He published an autobiography, Overtures and Beginners, Please, in 2014.

John Toogood was born on December 17, 1944, and died on March 27, aged 74. He is survived by three children, two of whom followed him into the arts.

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