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Selladoor launches Spanish office as Brexit ‘contingency plan’

Selladoor Worldwide chief executive David Hutchinson with Selladoor Spain managing director JC Storm
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Theatre producer Selladoor Worldwide is expanding its international operations by opening an office in Madrid, which it intends to make a hub for creating new Spanish-language productions.

The company said fears about Brexit had spurred on its desire to put down roots on mainland Europe with a base from which it can run European operations and manage productions travelling to and from the UK.

Selladoor’s production office in Madrid will form the central part of Selladoor Spain, a new branch of the company that will focus on expanding its reach in Spanish-speaking territories.

This also includes South America, which chief executive David Hutchinson said was home to some “really exciting emerging markets” for theatre and would enable Selladoor to become one of the first producers actively developing links in the region.

Current Selladoor productions include tours of Fame, Madagascar, American Idiot and Avenue Q, while the company is also involved in the forthcoming Amelie musical, Little Miss Sunshine, and the West End’s 9 to 5.

Selladoor’s production of Flashdance will launch the Spanish office, with a run at Madrid’s Apollo Theatre in January 2020. This follows an eight-week run of the musical in Barcelona earlier this year.

Hutchinson said the company had been exploring the idea of having a permanent presence in Spain for about a year. Once fully established, the Madrid office will enable Selladoor to tour British productions into Spanish-speaking territories as well as create work in Spain that can be taken to some of the existing markets where the company operates.

In Europe, these include Germany, Switzerland and Belgium, but Selladoor also has offices in Bangkok, New York and Shanghai.

Hutchinson acknowledged that aside from the opportunities available in Spain, “I would be lying if I didn’t say that… Brexit contingency plans haven’t also factored into strategic thoughts regarding a mainland Europe hub”.

“We have to protect our ability to efficiently and smoothly manage the exchange of productions between the UK and Europe among all this political uncertainty,” Hutchinson said, adding that current plans to expand in Europe and also to bring a show from the EU to London later this year underlined this importance.

Philip Rowntree, the company’s chief financial officer, said logistical discussions were already being affected by the uncertainty surrounding Britain’s future with the EU.

He told The Stage: “We do not know how long we’re going to be held at various border posts. At the end of the day, all we’re doing is producing theatre, but when you have time-sensitive trips and you’re having to deal with these sorts of travel issues, import-export issues, it really puts people off wanting to work with you.”

Selladoor Spain’s team will be led by JC Storm, who will host the position of managing director/producer, while it will also have dedicated musical direction, stage management, finance, technical and marketing staff.

Last year, Selladoor made a move into venue management for the first time, taking over the Queen’s Theatre in Barnstaple and the Landmark Theatre in Ilfracombe. It will also operate the Peterborough New Theatre – formerly the Broadway – from later this year.

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