Playful Productions was founded in 2010 by Matthew Byam Shaw, Nia Janis and Nick Salmon. We are one of the largest independent theatre production companies in the UK.
Based in Covent Garden, our team of 25 has a wealth of experience spanning both subsidised and commercial theatre. We produce plays and musicals for the West End, Broadway and on tour, and have collaborated with companies including the National Theatre, Royal Shakespeare Company, The Old Vic, Bush Theatre, Donmar Warehouse, Almeida Theatre, Royal Court Theatre, Young Vic Theatre, Chichester Festival Theatre, Hampstead Theatre and Sheffield Theatres. We also provide general management and production accountancy services in London and on tour to other producers, currently for several record-breaking West End and touring productions, as well as booking all of our UK and international tours. Our productions have received 22 Olivier Awards, 10 Tony® Awards, 8 Evening Standard Awards, 1 Oscar® nomination and 1 Grammy® nomination.
We have a passion at Playful for developing new work to produce. The adventure of finding, nurturing and shaping an idea all the way through to production has given us some of our most rewarding fun. Ideas have sprung from modern fiction, documentary television, lunch, and overheard conversations on the tube. They would remain ideas if we weren’t lucky enough to collaborate with some of the best playwrights, composers, designers, directors and actors who help us realise each project’s ambition.
This year we produced Edward Albee’s The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia? starring Damian Lewis and Sophie Okonedo. Directed by Ian Rickson, it opened at the Theatre Royal Haymarket on 5 April 2017 with previews from 24 March 2017. We also produced Patrick Marber’s Don Juan in Soho starring David Tennant in the title role and directed by Patrick Marber. It opened at Wyndham’s Theatre on 28 March 2017 with previews from 17 March 2017 and completed its strictly limited eleven week run on 10 June 2017.
Also this year we general managed Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill starring six time Tony award winner Audra McDonald as Billie Holiday. Directed by Lonny Price, Lady Day opened at the Wyndham’s Theatre on 27 June 2017 and enjoyed a hugely successful limited 12 week run.
We are general managing the UK première of An American in Paris which is directed and choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon. Inspired by the Oscar® winning film and featuring the timeless music and lyrics of George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin and book by Craig Lucas, An American in Paris opened at the Dominion Theatre on 21 March 2017 with previews from 4 March 2017 and is currently booking until January 2018.
Later this year Shrek the Musical will return for another UK and Ireland tour. Starting in Edinburgh in December the production will then tour to Manchester, Sunderland, Birmingham, Aberdeen, Northampton, Stoke with further venues still to be announced.
Wicked will complete its final venue of the international tour in Zurich in November before embarking on a new UK and Ireland tour. Opening in Bristol in February before travelling to Liverpool, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Leeds, Dublin, Sunderland, Southampton, Cardiff before concluding in Manchester at Christmas.
Last year we produced the UK tour and West End production of Harold Pinter’s No Man’s Land which starred Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart, directed by Sean Mathias. The tour commenced on 3 August 2016 and visited four venues before a run at Wyndham’s Theatre in London for a limited 14 week engagement. It opened on 20 September 2016, previews began on 8 September 2016, with an NT Live broadcast on 15 December 2016. Last summer we general managed Groundhog Day, a new musical based on the 1993 Columbia Pictures film, directed by Matthew Warchus, with music and lyrics by Tim Minchin, which opened at the Old Vic theatre on 16 August 2016. Groundhog Day won the Mastercard Award for Best New Musical and Best Actor in a Musical at the 2017 Olivier Awards and is currently running at the August Wilson Theatre on Broadway.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory closed in the West End on 7 January 2017 after 4 years, which concludes a 6 year run of Playful shows at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is currently running at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre on Broadway.
Our other current productions include Wicked in London (general manager) at the Apollo Victoria, which celebrated its 10th birthday last September and is currently booking until May 2018. Kinky Boots (producer and general manager) which continues its run at the Adelphi Theatre and is the winner of every major Best Musical Award including Tony®, Olivier, What’s On Stage and Evening Standard. Kinky Boots is currently booking until March 2018.
The team is led by our three Directors. Matthew is a producer who develops and leads on all the plays that we produce and heads up the development team at Playful. He is known to be partial to a musical and is in fact currently developing his first one. Nia is a producer and general manager who heads up the production team, she leads on many of the musicals we produce and manage and is responsible for the day to day running of Playful’s staff. She also enjoys being able to work on Playful’s plays when nobody is looking. Nick is a producer and general manager who oversees all aspects of the plays and musicals that Playful produces and general manages and leads on a variety of our productions. There’s not much he doesn’t know.