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Prolific West End producer Michael White dies aged 80

Michael White with Felicity Kendal at the press night of The Last Cigarette in 2009. Photo: Limelight Studios Michael White with Felicity Kendal at the press night of The Last Cigarette in 2009. Photo: Limelight Studios
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Michael White, one of the most charismatic theatre figures of the last half-century and producer of more than 100 shows including Oh! Calcutta! and The Rocky Horror Show, has died at the age of 80.

His death from a heart attack in California on March 7 was confirmed by his former girlfriend, Lynda Hobbs, who described him as “a unique man” and “a theatrical pioneer”.

White found success on both sides of the Atlantic with a portfolio of productions that attracted cult as well as mainstream audiences. His West End ventures included the Ken Tynan-inspired Oh! Calcutta!, which divided audiences with its irreverence and nudity, Richard O’Brien’s camp tribute to low-budget B-movies, The Rocky Horror Show, and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

Later stage offerings included the musicals A Chorus Line, Annie and She Loves Me, and popular thrillers by Anthony Shaffer (Sleuth) and Ira Levin (Deathtrap).

White also enjoyed a high-profile career in film, notably taking O’Brien’s hit musical to the screen and producing Monty Python and the Holy Grail and My Dinner With Andre. His television work included Channel 4’s The Comic Strip Presents series.

White was the recipient of a special award at the 2014 Olivier Awards. Venues across London’s Theatreland will be dimming their lights tonight (March 9) at 7pm in his memory.

A full obituary will run in next week’s issue of The Stage.

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