Rolf Deyhle, head of the German firm Stella, has asked the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg to purchase 5 percent of the company's shares at the cost of 50 million marks. This request, revealed at a press conference on March 13, takes place shortly before the first public offering of the company's shares on the stock market planned this summer.
Stella is the largest producer of musicals in continental Europe and is responsible for the open-end German productions of Cats, The Phantom of the Opera, Starlight Express, Les Miserables, Miss Saigon, Joseph and Beauty and the Beast. With the exception of Cats, which plays in the Hamburg Operettenhaus, Stella has built a theatre especially for each of these productions. The Stella theatre under construction at Potsdamer Platz in Berlin will likely house the upcoming Disney production of The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
To help cast these shows with German-speaking talent, Stella recently founded a Musical Academy in Hamburg. The first class was enrolled this fall, under the direction of Michael Pinkerton. For many years, Pinkerton had directed the Tanz-Gesang Studio of Theater an der Wien in Vienna, Austria.
In a separate development, Stella has announced on March 12 the formation of a new label called "Stella - The Label of the Stars". Its first release, the German version of Beauty and the Beast, is planned for April. Ten recordings of pop music and musicals are planned to be released by the end of this year.
--By Scott Lawton