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Bill Kenwright blames ‘get rich quick’ attitude for show failures

Bill Kenwright. Photo: Sky Arts
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Producer Bill Kenwright has blamed a “get rich quick” mentality among inexperienced producers for the number of shows and tours that are leaving performers unpaid.

His comments come as a touring production of the Glenn Miller musical Bugle Boy came to a sudden halt earlier this month, with cast and crew owed thousands. Last Christmas, performers involved in An Evening of Movies and Musicals at the Apollo Victoria were left unpaid when the production company behind it went into liquidation.

Kenwright is also owed thousands of pounds for shows he took to Peterborough’s Broadway Theatre when it was being run by disgraced producer Paul Coxwell. Kenwright told The Stage he would welcome measures introduced to the sector to protect actors and theatres.

The producer, who this week opened a new UK tour of the musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat starring Danielle Hope and Lloyd Daniels, said in the main producers behave responsibly.

He added that he had recently seen a number of productions on the fringe in London, including In the Heights and The Beautiful Game, which had been staged by “extraordinary and committed” young producers who had got their finances in order prior to launching the shows.

“They went in with their figures right. They budgeted and did spreadsheets, and that is what you have to do – get your figures right,” he said.

However, he claimed there were other, less experienced producers operating in the sector who were only staging shows in the hope of making money.

“There seems to be a ‘get rich quick’ mentality in other producers, which I think is suicidal,” he said, adding: “I would suggest any producer has an ambition to make a living in a great industry, and not a killing.”

Kenwright said he would welcome measures in the industry to “tighten things up” so that theatres, actors and those “producers who are doing it right” are protected.

“Everyone makes mistakes, but it seems there are people out there for whom it seems one mistake is not enough,” he said.

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