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Old Vic seals transfers deal with Sonia Friedman and Scott Rudin

Matthew Warchus at the Old Vic. Photo: Manuel Harlan Matthew Warchus at the Old Vic. Photo: Manuel Harlan
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Matthew Warchus has begun his tenure as Old Vic artistic director by securing a new partnership with producers Sonia Friedman and Scott Rudin, giving them exclusivity on commercial transfers from the Waterloo venue.

Under the deal, Friedman and Rudin will work together to transfer shows from the Old Vic into the West End, Broadway and elsewhere in the US and UK.

Speaking to The Stage, Warchus said that the producers would have the option to transfer up to five shows a year from the programme, which has just been announced.

However, the artistic director said he could include “excluded productions” in his seasons, which Friedman and Rudin would not be involved in.

Warchus also said the deal with the producers would not affect his decision making in terms of what he programmes, claiming Friedman and Rudin would have “no say or influence” over this.

In addition, Friedman and Rudin are backing a new musical theatre commissioning programme, which will see the Old Vic commission around 15 new musicals over the next five years.

“I said I was going to commission new musicals and they asked how much money I needed. It’s a good deal for them if some of the musicals we produce are commercial,” Warchus said, adding: “The only thing stopping any theatre doing musicals is the cost. The fact that both of them stepped up with commissioning money, plus the commitment to resource workshops, gives us a meaningful, unique and ground-breaking relationship.”

The artistic director said the scheme precludes shows that were already in development, such as Groundhog Day and Pride, based on a film he has directed, as well as any revivals that the theatre is planning.

Warchus has also launched a new deal with PricewaterhouseCoopers that will see half of all seats at the Old Vic priced at £10 for the first five previews of each performance at the venue.

The PwC £10 Previews replaces the Under 25s Club, which saw £12 tickets available for 100 people under 25 at each show.

Warchus said the new £10 scheme was borne out of the idea that not everyone who cannot afford to attend the theatre is young.

“Half of every single house for the first five previews will be £10. In terms of atmosphere, that is going to create something really interesting,” he said.

The theatre has also secured a partnership with the Royal Bank of Canada, which will see the bank become the venue’s principal funder. This will enable the theatre to stage more productions each year, with the bank sponsoring more than 15 shows over the next three years.

Warchus has also revealed his line up of associate artists, which include choreographer Peter Darling, casting director David Grindrod, designer Rob Howell and writer Dennis Kelly.

The theatre will also launch the Baylis Directors scheme, giving one director the opportunity to work at the venue for a year, during which time they will direct a show, receive money to commission a new production and shadow Warchus.

Details of new season at Old Vic

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