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September 30 2021


Netflix plans Roald Dahl theatre shows following rights acquisition

Georgia Snow

Netflix has revealed plans to develop stage shows based on the works of Roald Dahl as part of its acquisition of the author’s back catalogue.

In its biggest acquisition to date, the streaming giant has bought the Roald Dahl Story Company, and with it will control the rights to all of his celebrated children’s stories.

In addition to live action and animated TV and film adaptations for its own platform, Netflix has said it will develop immersive entertainment and live theatre, as well as games, books and consumer products.

No titles have yet been announced, although Netflix confirmed that stage productions make up part of its ambitions for the deal, and said it would continue the relationships with theatre partners forged by the Roald Dahl Story Company.

Netflix is currently developing a film version of the Matilda stage musical, directed by Matthew Warchus, who also helmed the West End show.

It is yet to be directly involved in producing theatre, but has adapted several stage works for its own platform, including filmed versions of Broadway productions American Son and musical Diana, which will premiere on Netflix next month before it opens in New York this December.

A joint statement from Netflix co-chief executive and chief content officer Ted Sarandos and Luke Kelly, managing director of the Roald Dahl Story Company and Dahl’s grandson, said the deal would “bring some of the world’s most-loved stories to current and future fans in creative new ways”.

“As we bring these timeless tales to more audiences in new formats, we’re committed to maintaining their unique spirit and their universal themes of surprise and kindness, while also sprinkling some fresh magic into the mix,” they said.

The statement added: “Netflix and the Roald Dahl Story Company share a deep love of storytelling and a growing, global fan base. Together, we have an extraordinary opportunity to write multiple new chapters of these beloved stories, delighting children and adults around the world for generations to come.”

Matilda the Musical, directed by Matthew Warchus, who is also directing Netflix’s film adaptation

K e n t o n i s t r a m

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Mountview names ex-Soho Theatre boss Abigail Morris as artistic director

TKTS discount booth returns to Leicester Square

Matthew Hemley

Abigail Morris

Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts has appointed former Soho Theatre boss Abigail Morris as its new artistic director and chief executive.

Morris, former director and chief executive of the Jewish Museum and artistic director of Soho Theatre from 1992 to 2005, will replace outgoing joint chief executives Stephen Jameson and Sarah Preece, who step down in December.

Jameson is also principal, while Preece is executive director, but Morris’ role replaces those positions.

Morris said: “I am hugely excited to be taking on this position at one of the UK’s leading drama schools. I look forward to building on the incredible work that Stephen and Sarah have done so that Mountview continues to develop its wonderful combination of inclusive accessibility with the highest possible standards.”

She added: “I want the new building in Peckham to be fizzing with creative energy and be proudly local at the same time as having a national and international profile. Mountview and its students have an enviable reputation for excellence and I can’t wait to start working with all the Mountview team to discover and develop the talent of the future.”

Morris’ previous roles include founder and artistic director of Trouble and Strife Theatre Company, and visiting fellow in theatre at the University of Cambridge.

Incoming Mountview chair Rosemary Squire, who led the recruitment panel, described her as an “outstanding leader who has grown organisations including Soho Theatre and the Jewish Museum to great acclaim”.

“She is a visionary and innovative creative practitioner committed to the highest principles of vocational training who has developed two successful theatre companies and helped shape the careers of many leading British theatremakers,” Squire added.

• Mountview is to name its main theatre after producer Cameron Mackintosh. The theatre has been named the Mack in recognition of his support for the drama school, which includes a gift of £1 million towards completing the school’s new building. It comes as Mountview is granted permission to stage the first full-length student production of Les Misérables. The production will officially open the Mack in November – the first time the show has been performed in full by a drama school. The Mack is at the heart of Mountview’s purpose-built home in Peckham, with an auditorium designed by Tom Piper. Mackintosh said: “I have been a supporter of Mountview for several decades, so I was delighted when this much-loved drama school took the adventurous step to expand its ambitions and move from Crouch End to create an exciting new home in multicultural Peckham. When I was approached by Vikki Heywood and André Ptaszynski to fund the completion of Mountview’s major performance space, I quickly became convinced to do so by the discovery of the sheer diversity of the student intake from every social background. Despite the difficulties caused by the pandemic, Mountview has supported its students through a very tough time and I have no doubts that British theatre will benefit from an exciting stream of fresh, highly skilled and authentic talent for generations to come.”

Matthew Hemley

Discount ticketing booth TKTS has returned to Leicester Square in London, just over a year since it was shut due to the pandemic. The booth officially closed last summer, with operator the Society of London Theatre saying in June this was for the “foreseeable future”, resulting in more than 20 people losing their jobs.

Now, SOLT has announced its return, in a temporary building in Leicester Square Gardens. It has not been confirmed whether former employees will be rehired. The new building will be TKTS’ temporary home while works are carried out in Leicester Square, and it is hoped TKTS will move back into its former home soon.

SOLT chief executive Julian Bird said: “After a year and a half, it is fantastic to be able to herald the full return of London’s world-leading theatre industry with the reopening of TKTS.

“For 40 years, the iconic booth has stood in the heart of Theatreland offering unparalleled customer service to countless theatregoers and forging close relationships with theatre box offices across the West End. It is fantastic to see the booth’s shutters up again.”

A spokeswoman for SOLT said the organisation could not comment on the hiring process while it was ongoing.

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