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Producer Michael Linnit: ‘Theatre needs star castings – it’s an insurance policy’

Michael Linnit
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Veteran producer Michael Linnit has claimed shows need star castings because of the “added insurance policy” big names provide.

He told The Stage that in the 46 years he has been a producer he has always relied on a star name, and admitted he is “not brave enough” to do productions without one.

His next production, Man of La Mancha, at the London Coliseum, will star Kelsey Grammer, who is best known for his work on the TV series Frasier and Cheers. He is producing the show with Michael Grade, through Grade Linnit, which previously produced productions such as Sunset Boulevard starring Glenn Close and Chess, with Alexandra Burke and Michael Ball.

“We have always used star names. Because it’s only a six-week season here [at the Coliseum], but it’s a big house, we are able to attract star names. Big stars won’t commit to six months but they will come for six weeks to this iconic theatre in the heart of the West End,” he said.

He added: “In all of the productions I have done in my life, going back to 1973, here and all over the world, I have always tried to use star names because they are an added insurance policy. However good the play is, however well known it is, you still need that additional insurance policy in my opinion. I am not brave enough to do it without.”

However, Linnit said a star is described as someone with an international profile, adding that the use of the word to describe reality TV personalities is a “slight misnomer”.

“It’s good for certain shows that appeal on a certain echelon but in general terms we are talking about really established international stars who give electrifying performances,” he said, adding that Grammer is a Shakespearean actor who has trained in singing.

“Why should he be criticised for being a star as well? First and foremost, he delivers the goods,” he added.

Frasier star Kelsey Grammer: ‘I’d like to give Ian McKellen a run for his money and play Lear in London’

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