The Ambassador Theatre Group Ltd (ATG), owners of the Palace Theatre and Opera House, has launched Manchester Gets it First – the company’s commitment to bringing the biggest new musicals to Manchester before London and other major cities.
Manchester Gets it First follows the hugely successful run of GHOST The Musical at the Opera House, which earned standing ovations from sell out audiences and sold almost 100,000 tickets.
The plan to launch more shows at ATG’s Manchester theatres chimes with the City Council’s Cultural Ambition as a global city – and as such has won the backing of council Chief Executive Sir Howard Bernstein. Manchester City Council has warmly welcomed the collaboration with ATG on the project.
GHOST The Musical had its world premiere at the Opera House on March 28 as part of a strictly limited 7 week season in Manchester prior to opening at the Piccadilly Theatre in London’s West End on June 24.
It is the first of what ATG hopes will be many high profile productions opening in Manchester, with producers using the city as a launch pad for new musicals.
Howard Panter, along with his wife Rosemary Squire, is Joint Chief Executive of ATG. He says: “I wanted Manchester to get it first because I know it as a city with a great foundation in music and theatre. I’ve been talking to producers in North America and Australia and saying that Manchester is a great place to launch musicals and they get it, they understand it, because of Manchester’s heritage. It’s rare for a £6m musical like GHOST to premiere in Manchester, but I think it’s just the start. New musicals need to have a place where the team can work with a knowledgeable, sophisticated audience. If you can make it work in Manchester it will work anywhere.”
Colin Ingram, producer and general manger of GHOST The Musical, said: “We have found Manchester a terrific city to open a new musical. With a large catchment area, and two wonderful musical theatres – we’ve been able to have two months to fit up and rehearse a very complex show which could not have been done anywhere else outside London. Manchester and the surrounding area has a long tradition of theatre going and are extremely warm and open to new work. The audience has greeted GHOST with open arms instead of closed arms. The media have been extremely supportive and professional and ATG lead by Howard Panter and all the staff at the Opera House and Palace Theatre have worked diligently and professionally to help us bring GHOST to the market place. We transfer into London’s West End in a good place with strong word of mouth, powerful marketing tools such as an EPK, photography and a knowledge base of what our audience want from our show”
Councillor Mike Amesbury, Executive Member for Culture and Leisure at Manchester City Council, said: “These are exciting times and this collaboration with ATG reinforces how Manchester has become an artistic powerhouse, which brings tremendous cultural and economic benefits to the area. Just look at the success of the Manchester International Festival (MIF), where a world-class event is hosted in the city and draws massive audiences. Events such as MIF and major musicals like Ghost also boost the production capacity of Manchester, using our expert creative skills and creating further jobs in the industry.”