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Backstage at the 2011 Olivier Awards

April 11, 2011 

Acclaimed photographer Charlie Gray went behind the scenes at this year’s Olivier Awards at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane to capture the stars of West End Theatre.

Amanda Holden, backstage at the 2011 Olivier Awards

Amanda Holden, backstage at the 2011 Olivier Awards

Charlie Gray is a prominent London photographer, well known for his film and TV work and his coverage of the BAFTA film awards.

He started his career shooting reportage for magazines and this style of capturing the glamour of the entertainment industry, combined with the drama of normal life, has stood him in good stead. He has become well-known for getting beautiful shots of beautiful people outside of their on-camera, on-stage lives.

Last year he completed a “Year Behind The Scenes of British Film” project for The Sunday Times, requiring him to visit 20 film sets. Projects like this, and his work as the official photographer for BAFTA for the last four years, means that he has built up an impressive portfolio packed full of famous faces.

In recognition of the Olivier Award’s step-change this year, to become an altogether more glamorous face of the West End theatre industry, the Sunday Times commissioned Gray to go behind the scenes at the Olivier Awards for a Spectrum feature that ran in the Sunday Times magazine on 3 April. The beautiful colour and black and white shots feature a who’s who of London theatre including Amanda Holden, Stephen Sondheim, Barry Manilow, Elisabeth Moss, Angela Lansbury, Michael Ball, Sheridan Smith and Anne-Marie Duff.

A book and exhibition are the next the logical next steps for Gray, but for the time being he’s happy to be busy out there, getting the work done. “Perhaps next year after my 5th BAFTA”, he said.


Charlie Gray’s website

The Sunday Times website


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Howard Panter: Fame and fortune

August 17, 2010 

We read with interest Ambassador Theatre Group co-owner Howard Panter’s spread in the Sunday Times Money section this weekend, “Fame and fortune: I put my savings on the stage”, in the hope of getting some tips.

Howard Panter and Rosemary Squire

Howard Panter and Rosemary Squire

Alongside his wife and business partner Rosemary Squire, they are now the most powerful people in British Theatre and certainly the largest theatre owners. Their deal last year to buy Live Nation’s venues boosted their portfolio to 39 theatres in the UK, including London’s Apollo Victoria, Comedy, Duke of York’s, Fortune, Lyceum, Phoenix, Piccadilly, Playhouse, Savoy, Trafalgar Studios and Donmar Warehouse. That means they manage more than 11,000 theatre seats in London. Powerful indeed.

In the feature, Panter, 61, revealed his ambition to capitalise on the current overseas interest in London shows. His aim is to export shows to other countries by selling the intellectual property of a show but getting it backed by investment from the home country, and populating it with the host country’s local talent.

Presumably it’s a similar model to Cameron Mackintosh but without actually producing the show – more in line with TV companies exporting formats overseas. This makes sense given ATG’s increasing emphasis on production (recent examples include Keira Knightly in The Misanthrope, Legally Blonde at the Savoy and a new tour of The Rocky Horror Show – which Panter owns the rights to). This virtuous circle of owning venues and then producing plays for them makes perfect business sense and mirrors Mackintosh in reverse (a producer who moved into theatre ownership).

Panter is also lobbying hard for tax breaks to help “angels” invest in commercial theatre. Angels – usually rich theatre-loving individuals who take a punt on backing a show in the hope of making some money (rare) and getting a bit of West End glamour (guaranteed) – have long been the life-blood of commercial theatre financing. As Panter says, “With the cuts that are coming, commercial theatre is the bit that’s going to grow, while the publicly subsidised sector of the theatre will be under huge additional strain. The problem, though, is how you sell this politically right now”.

Hard to do, I imagine, when you put it like that.

If commercial theatre is going to grow then tax breaks are going to be less likely. The argument needs to be that, like productions and venues, the subsidised and commercial theatre run in a virtuous circle of talent and creativity – generating lots of money for the UK in the process. It doesn’t pay to have one without the other, so in the short-term commercial theatre will grow as it takes audiences away from a dwindling subsidised world, but in the long-run the whole thing dries up.

We also learnt that Howard has minor dyslexia, likes a good holiday, started in theatre with £1 but now turns over about £230m a year, and has got showbiz in his bones: he originally studied lighting, sound, design, stage management and direction at Lamda.

Which is good to know because with great power comes great responsibility (ref: Spider-man), and we are going to need some seriously passionate, powerful and benevolent theatre people to see us through the next few years.


Sunday Times – Howard Panter 15/08/10

Ian Charleson Awards

July 21, 2010 

We might have missed it but the publicity around the winners of this year’s Ian Charleson Awards seemed particularly muted.

Ian CharlesonEven the Sunday Times, the sponsor of the awards, gave little promotion to the nominations or winners.

This year marks 20 years since actor Ian Charleson died on 6 January 1990 of AIDS-related causes, only eight weeks after playing Hamlet in Richard Eyre’s production at the National Theatre.

He was an extremely accomplished actor, appearing in film (Chariots of Fire), TV (Oxbridge Blues) and numerous stage roles, both plays and musicals, including Guys and Dolls and Fool For Love.

The awards were established to commemorate and celebrate his life, and The Sunday Times and the National Theatre collaborate annually to present awards for outstanding performances anywhere in the UK, by actors under the age of 30 in a classical role.

Maybe the private awards lunch held annually should be webcast by the National, so everyone can celebrate the UK’s most promising actors?


Read Ian McKellen’s touching tribute to Ian Charleson’s performance in Hamlet at the National Theatre

Read Alan Bates’ 1990 tribute to Ian Charleson

Sunday Times Rich List 2010 – Showbiz

June 17, 2010 

The Sunday Times publishes an annual Rich List of the UK’s wealthiest people. Here we drill down to reveal the richest people in showbusiness in the UK.

To see the full list and all details visit the The Rich List

25-Edgar Bronfman and family£1,640m NewInheritance and music
8952=Lord Lloyd-Webber£700mDOWN £50mEntertainment and music
98146=Sir Cameron Mackintosh£635mUP £285mEntertainment and music
129101Joanne Rowling£519mUP £20mNovels and films
145120=Sir Paul McCartney£475mUP £35mMusic
190=178=Simon Fuller£350mUP £50mEntertainment and music
272=238=Mark Burnett and Roma Downey£240mUP £5mTelevision
336=297=Sir Mick Jagger£190m-Music
346=322=Nigel and Trevor Green£189mUP £14mFilms
348=322=Sir Elton John£185mUP £10mMusic
354=510=Arpad Busson and Uma Thurman£180mUP £75mFinance and films
371=322=Keith Richards£175m-Music
371=333=Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas£175mUP £5mFilms
398=438=Simon Cowell£165mUP £45mMusic
41=28=Clive Calder£1,300m -Music
431=406=Jamie Palumbo£150mUP £20mEntertainment
472=388=Sir Tim Rice£140m-Music
472=438=Ringo Starr£140mUP £20mMusic
486=406=Sir Tom Jones£135mUP £5mMusic
523=438=Eric Clapton£125mUP £5mMusic
540=600=Roger Ames£120mUP £30mMusic
596=492=Robert Bourne and Sally Greene£110m-Property and theatre
596=492=Barry and Robin Gibb£110m-Music
596=510=Sir Ridley and Tony Scott£110mUP £5mFilms
627=503=Phil Collins£108m-Music
633=540=Rod Stewart£105mUP £5mMusic
653=540=David Bowie£100m-Music
688=600=Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne£95mUP £5mMusic and television
714=600=George Michael£90m-Music
763=657=Charlie Watts£85m-Music
763=657=Roger Waters£85m-Music
763=694=Robbie Williams£85mUP £5mMusic
808=694=Chris Blackwell£80m-Music
808=694=Sir Sean Connery£80m-Films
808=751=Judy Craymer£80mUP £5mMusic
808=751=Robert Plant£80mUP £5mMusic
861=742=David Gilmour£78m-Music
875=843=Tracey Ullman and Allan McKeown£75mUP £7mTelevision
875=793=Brian May£75mUP £5mMusic
875=793=Jimmy Page£75mUP £5mMusic
911=853=Moya Doherty and John McColgan£72mUP £5mEntertainment
923=793=Rowan Atkinson£70m-Entertainment
923=863=Roger Taylor£70mUP £5mMusic
991=986=Chris Wright£64mUP £9mMusic
1001=924=Mark Knopfler£62mUP £2mMusic
1037=1077=John Deacon£60mUP £10mMusic
1037=863=Sir Anthony Hopkins£60mDOWN £5mFilms
1037=924=Engelbert Humperdinck£60m-Music
1130=1046=Noel and Liam Gallagher£55mUP £3mMusic
1130=1077=Guy Ritchie£55mUP £5mFilms
1195=1046=Matthew Vaughn and Claudia Schiffer£52m-Films and modelling
1233=1077=Nick Mason£50m-Music
1233=1077=Van Morrison£50m-Music
1233=1077=Sir Roger Moore and Kristina Tholstrup£50m-Films
1233=1077=Tim Burton and Helena Bonham Carter£50m-Films
1233=1348=Sir Cliff Richard£50mUP £10mMusic
1373=1203=Sir Michael Caine£45m-Films
1373=1296=Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow£45mUP £3mMusic and films
1373=1550=John Paul Jones£45mUP £10mMusic
1470=-Dario Franchitti and Ashley Judd£42mNewMotor racing and films
1536=1348=Bernie Taupin£40m-Music
1536=1348=Pete Townshend£40m-Music
1536=1348=Hugh Grant£40m-Films
1719=1550=Jay Kay£35m-Music
1719=1550=Ken Berry£35m-Music
1719=1550=Kylie Minogue£35m-Music
1719=1550=Mick Hucknall£35m-Music
1719=1771=Gary Barlow£35mUP £5mMusic
1825=-John Giddings£32mNewMusic
1825=1673=Paul Smith and Sarah King and family£32m-Films

Sunday Times Rich List 2010 – Young People – Showbiz

June 17, 2010 

The Sunday Times publishes an annual Rich List of the UK’s wealthiest people. Here we drill down to reveal the richest young people in showbusiness in the UK.

To see the full list and all details visit the The Rich List

55Daniel Radcliffe£42m£12mFilm
7=8Keira Knightley£28m£1mFilms
10=10=Emma Watson£22m£10mFilms
1216=Rupert Grint£20m£11mFilms
14-Robert Pattinson£13mNewFilm
16=12=Charlotte Church£11m-Music
16=16=Katherine Jenkins£11m£2mMusic
16=16=Leona Lewis£11m£3mMusic
20=26=Cheryl Cole£10m£6mMusic
20=14=Katie Melua£10m-Music
2318=Joss Stone£9m£1mMusic
24=18=Craig David£8m-Music
31=22=Natasha Bedingfield£6m-Music
36=25Amy Winehouse£5m-Music
36=-James Morrison£5mNewMusic
36=26=Jamie Cullum£5m£1mMusic
36=-Kimberley Walsh£5mNewMusic
36=-Lily Allen£5mNewMusic
36=26=Lily Cole£5m£1mFashion and films
36=-Nadine Coyle£5mNewMusic
36=-Nicola Roberts£5mNewMusic
36=-Paolo Nutini£5mNewMusic
36=-Sarah Harding£5mNewMusic

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