Cabaret - 1972 Money makes the world go around Photo courtesy of ABC-Fremantle-WarnerBros

West End Theatre Rich List 2024

The Sunday Times has revealed its annual Rich List for 2024, featuring Britain’s 350 richest people or families.

And as usual, we also dig into the West End Theatre Rich List for 2024, highlighting the richest people behind London’s theatre scene, from West End theatre owners, to producers and creators.

This year’s list mirrors the West End Rich List 2023, with all key figures increasing in wealth.

The Sunday Times carried out the valuations between November 2023 and May 1, 2024, with the compilers of the list measuring identifiable wealth – including land, property, racehorses, art or significant shares in publicly quoted companies. They exclude bank accounts to which they have no access and small shareholdings in a private equity portfolio. The actual size of their fortunes may be much larger than these conservative figures.

It’s also worth pointing out that this list is solely based on the Sunday Times Rich List – comprising of British citizens, or people who are not British citizens but who live and work in Britain. That means there are a number of West End theatre owners, producers and backers who are not included.

1. Sir Leonard Blavatnik

Owner of the Theatre Royal Haymarket

Worth: £29.246bn, Up: £621m

Sunday Times Rich List Ranking: 2 (2024); 3 (2023)

Alongside Blavatnik’s ownership of Warner Music, sports streaming platform DAZN, music streamer Deezer and numerous other investments, Blavatnik owns the Theatre Royal Haymarket in the West End. Originally purchased for £45 million, he owns the prestigious London theatre through his movie, TV and theatre company Access Entertainment, run by ex-BBC exec Danny Cohen.

Since 2023 the Theatre Royal Haymarket has focused on reviving the theatre’s tradition of being a playhouse, offering limited-run plays that “strike the balance between premium quality and commercial potential”. That has included Accidental Death of an Anarchist starring Daniel Rigby, and Sarah Snook’s recent, acclaimed run in The Picture of Dorian Gray, with Danny Cohen and Access Entertainment co-producers of the London run, and forthcoming Broadway production. Coming up next week at the Haymarket is Dominic West in the Theatre Royal Bath’s production of A View From The Bridge; and Lucian Msamati and Ben Whishaw in Waiting for Godot.

Blavatnik’s philanthropy and involvement in the arts includes his help to secure the David Bowie archive for the V&A, and co-producing the new Florence Welch musical Gatsby at the American Repertory Theatre. Blavatnik is also involved in Bridge Theatre owner’s Nick Hytner and Nick Starr’s new King’s Cross theatre and arts venture Lightroom.

2. John Gore

Theatre producer

Worth: £2.1bn, Up: £196m

Sunday Times Rich List Ranking: 84 (2024); 90 (2023)

British theatre producer John Gore and his John Gore Organization is one of the world’s biggest theatre producers, who also distribute and market shows around the world, including Broadway, Off Broadway, the West End, Japan and 48 North American markets. His North America live touring business – Broadway Across America – is especially lucrative, and also owns three American venues. His business also owns broadway.com.

His successful Broadway production ofAin’t Too Proud played a less successful London run last year at the Prince Edward Theatre; other productions include West End success & Juliet, which continues to play on Broadway and is heading out on a UK tour this summer; and Hamilton – on Broadway, at the Victoria Palace Theatre in London, and around the world. He’s also involved in the Broadway productions of Shucked, Hadestown, MJ The Musical, Moulin Rouge! and more; and scored Tony success of Broadway with West End to New York transfers of The Lehman Trilogy and Company.

In 2023, John Gore bought iconic British horror film studio Hammer Films, with plans to breathe new life into the studio.

3. Sir Cameron Mackintosh

Theatre producer and owner

Worth: £1.25bn, Up: £23m

Sunday Times Rich List Ranking: 136 (2024); 143 (2023)

Cameron Mackintosh is one of the world’s most successful theatre producers, with productions running in London, on Broadway, and in multiple countries worldwide.

His current West End productions include Les Miserables at the Sondheim Theatre, which is London – and the world’s – longest running musical; plus Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera at His Majesty’s Theatre, and Hamilton at the Victoria Palace theatre.

Coming up, Mackintosh is producing a reimagined version of his blockbuster production of Lionel Bart’s musical Oliver!, which starts in Chichester, and then transfers to his Gielgud Theatre in the West End from 14 December.

His recent productions include Stephen Sondheim’s Old Friends at the Gielgud Theatre, which is also transferring to LA and Broadway next year.

At any one time Cameron also has multiple productions running around the world. He also owns 8 West End theatres through his Delfont Mackintosh Theatres company:  the Gielgud, Noël Coward, Novello, Sondheim, Prince Edward, Prince of Wales, Victoria Palace and Wyndham’s theatres.

4. Elisabeth Murdoch

Entrepreneur and philanthropist in the creative industries

Worth: £1.2bn, Up: No change

Sunday Times Rich List Ranking: 143 (2024); 147 (2023)

SISTER, the company set up by Elisabeth Murdoch, Stacey Snider and Jane Featherstone, sister of former Royal Court Theatre chief Vicky Featherstone, is building on its successful TV production business, producing such hits as Chernobyl and This is Going To Hurt, with a number of new acquisitions and initiatives – some of which are London theatre related.

In November 2022 they partnered with the Royal Court on a three year deal to seek out the next generation of new and emerging TV and theatre writers. Sister issued a statement acknowledging “the interconnectedness of UK TV and theatre”, and has run workshops to generate new plays. New plays already coming out of the relationship include Baghdaddy by Jasmine Naziha Jones, and Graceland by Ava Wong Davies. Elisabeth Murdoch and Jane Featherstone are also producers of mega-successful West End run of For Black Boys Who Considered Suicide When The Hue Gets Too Heavy, playing the Garrick Theatre until 1 June 2024.

Sister is also moving into live music and performance, having taken a 40% stake in Camden’s iconic venue KOKO, which now includes a swanky member’s club, restaurant and performance spaces. Expect more live performance and music interests to come.

5. JK Rowling

Author, screenwriter, executive producer

Worth: £945m, Up: £70m

Sunday Times Rich List Ranking: 175 (2024); 191 (2023)

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child continues to pack in audiences at the Palace Theatre in London, on Broadway, and around the world. The show should get another boost when Warner Bros start production on their ambitious new Harry Potter TV series.

In January accounts published for Rowling’s HPTP Holdings company, which manages her theatrical interests, revealed that the log-running show made Rowling £8.25 million in the last 12 months.

Rowling wrote the original story for the successful stage play with Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, with Jack Thorne writing the play, and Sonia Friedman and Colin Callender producing.

6. Sir Lloyd Dorfman and family

Chairman of the Royal Opera House; the National’s Dorfman Theatre named in his honour

Worth: £721m, Up: £9m

Sunday Times Rich List Ranking: 231 (2024); 237 (2023)

Lloyd Dorfman is chairman of the Royal Opera House, which recently announced a major new rebrand to become the Royal Ballet and Opera. He has also made significant donations to the National Theatre, primarily through their past, successful Travalex £10 initiative, sponsored by the foreign exchange firm Travalex that he founded.

The National renamed their Cottesloe theatre to the Dorfman theatre in 2016. The National recently announced that the Dorfman would be closing from mid-November 2024 to mid 2025 for urgent infrastructure work.

Dorfman’s family also has a large stake in Everyman Cinemas.

7. Lord Lloyd-Webber

Composer and producer of musicals and theatre owner

Worth: £513m, Up: £9m

Sunday Times Rich List Ranking: 282 (2024); 283 (2023)

Andrew Lloyd Webber is one of the most famous names in musical theatre, having composed the music to many of the most successful shows of the last 50 years including Evita, The Phantom of the Opera, Jesus Christ Superstar, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Sunset Boulevard, Aspects of Love and many more.

Lloyd Webber shows currently playing in London and the UK include The Phantom of the Opera at His Majesty’s Theatre; a major UK tour of Jesus Christ Superstar, which is also widely tipped to be returning to the West End; and a forthcoming UK tour of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

He also has The Wizard of Oz coming back to London this summer, playing his Gillian Lynne Theatre from 15 August to 8 September 2024; and a possible new collaboration with Tim Rice, reuniting for new show Sherlock Holmes And The Twelve Days Of Christmas.

Recent Lloyd Webber musicals in London include Aspects of Love starring Michael Ball at the Apollo Theatre, and the Olivier Award-winning production of Sunset Boulevard, directed by Jamie Lloyd and starring Nicole Scherzinger, at the Savoy Theatre, and transferring to New York.

Lloyd Webber owns 6 West End theatres through his LW Theatres company: the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, The London Palladium, the Cambridge Theatre, the Adelphi Theatre (co-owned with the Nederlander Group), the Gillian Lynne Theatre, and His Majesty’s Theatre.

He also owns the Really Useful Group (RUG) which manages the rights and licensing to his shows, and producers for stage and screen. Last October, James McKnight came in as CEO to run the division. McKnight’s background is as an executive on ABBA Voyage and the Harry Potter franchise, ideal skills for helping Lloyd Webber monetise his extensive musicals IP, including movies of his shows. A much delayed movie version of Sunset Boulevard starring Glenn Close is rumoured to be back on track.

Other recent Lloyd Webber highlights include composing last year’s anthem for the coronation of King Charles III; and last month, Andrew Lloyd Webber was made a Knight Companion of the Most Noble Order of the Garter by King Charles III.

8. Sir Elton John

Musician and composer

Worth: £470m, Up: £20m

Sunday Times Rich List Ranking: 291 (2024); 309 (2023)

Sir Elton has composed a number of hugely successful West End and Broadway musicals, and continues to do so.

His biggest theatre hit by far is Disney’s The Lion King, which continues to play to packed audiences at the Lyceum Theatre in London, on Broadway, and around the world.

Up next for John is his new musical version of The Devil Wears Prada, which has ben taken on by Broadway director Jerry Mitchell and opens at the West End’s Dominion Theatre this October 2024 starring Vanessa Williams.

His new musical Tammy Faye The Musical opened at the Almeida Theatre in London in 2022, and is transferring to Broadway’s Palace Theatre this October 2024 with Katie Brayben and Andrew Rannells reprising their acclaimed performances .

Also rumoured to be returning to London at some point soon is Billy Elliot The Musical, namely the recent successful Leicester Curve production; and Aida is also rumoured to be heading to London following the show’s recent Netherlands revival.

Links:
The Sunday Times Rich List
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📷 Main photo: Cabaret - 1972 Money makes the world go around Photo courtesy of ABC-Fremantle-WarnerBros

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