Lloyd Webber's Really Useful Group Will Reinvent Itself; Cats and Oz To Have New Lives
By Mark Shenton
Andrew Lloyd Webber's Really Useful Group is restructuring its theatre-property and producing arms, with future plans including a West End return for Cats and a Broadway production of The Wizard of Oz.
Really Useful chair Mark Wordworth told Variety that one company will manage and program the seven West End theatres owned or co-owned by Lloyd Webber, while the second will oversee productions of the composer's musicals and control the rights to his body of work. The new structure will be in place by 2013, according to the trade paper.
Cats is in development to return to the West End in 2013, co-produced (as was the original) with Cameron Mackintosh. Evita is already heading to Broadway in early 2012 in Michael Grandage's production that originated in the West End in 2006, starring Elena Roger in the title role. The Wizard of Oz, currently running at the London Palladium co-produced with Bill Kenwright, has recently extended its current booking period through February 2012.
The Wizard of Oz currently holds the biggest advance of any show in the West End, and is grossing more on a week-to-week basis than any other show, Kenwright has told Playbill.com. "Since we opened, it has been difficult, if not impossible, to get tickets for any of the three weekend performances that always play to capacity; we've averaged just below 85 percent in a two-and-a-quarter-thousand-seat theatre, and returned a third of the capitalization just 12 weeks after the opening night. It's a hit!"
The producer also revealed that they are currently in negotiation with "a major star" to take the show to Broadway. Productions are planned for Canada, Australia and a U.K. tour.
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