Mark Shenton: 10 best musical theatre producers working in London right now
It’s a striking fact that the top three producers on this list have been in the game for a very long time – next year Cameron Mackintosh, who just this week celebrated his 70th birthday, will mark his 50th working anniversary as a producer. But there are some younger guns on this list, too, and a couple of theatres that are making the making of musicals a key part of their creative endeavour. Unlike last week’s list of the top choreographers working on Britain’s stages, this list is in (reverse) order…
10. Danielle Tarento
Co-founder of the Menier Chocolate Factory (with David Babani, see below), Danielle Tarento is London’s boldest importer of Broadway product – this year alone she’s presented the London premiere of Grey Gardens (in a production starring Sheila Hancock and Jenna Russell) and the long-overdue European professional presentation of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s ridiculously overlooked 1947 show Allegro, both at Southwark Playhouse and both directed by Thom Southerland, with whom she has a fertile partnership. The pair are also now based at Charing Cross Theatre, where this year they have revived their Southwark production of Titanic and have just opened a stunning new production of Arenas and Stephen Flaherty’s 1998 Broadway masterpiece Ragtime.
9. Michael McCabe
If it wasn’t enough that Michael McCabe was executive producer of the London edition of Wicked, which recently celebrated its 10th anniversary in the West End, he’s also a regular lead producer on imports of Broadway hits from Spring Awakening to the forthcoming import of An American in Paris (which he is co-producing with Joshua Andrews).
8. Matthew Warchus
As artistic director of the Old Vic, Matthew Warchus has already scored his first major musical theatre triumph with the premiere of Groundhog Day this summer that is now Broadway-bound next year. Expect the Old Vic to become a major London outlet for new musicals – he’s also already commissioned and programmed an amazing dance piece by Drew McOnie based on Jekyll and Hyde.
7. The National Theatre
London Road and Jerry Springer the Opera were two of the most innovative and challenging new pieces of British musical theatre of the century so far. This week, the National Theatre has premiered Bryony Kimmings’ A Pacifist’s Guide to the War on Cancer, which is also stretching the template of what musicals can be about. And the announcement that the NT will revive Sondheim’s 1971 Broadway masterwork Follies next year is already the most eagerly anticipated production for musical theatre fans for 2017.
6. David Babani
The Menier Chocolate Factory that David Babani co-founded (with Danielle Tarento, see above) and is artistic director of, has become a hit factory for the production of revivals of Broadway musicals, and has a now unassailable record of taking those shows back to Broadway, including Sunday in the Park With George, A Little Night Music and currently The Color Purple. Other shows have transferred to the West End, such as Little Shop of Horrors, Sweet Charity, Merrily We Roll Along and Funny Girl, which goes out on a UK tour next year.