Playful celebrates 2014 ahead of fifth anniversary next year

Playful Productions is marking the end of a phenomenally successful year as we gear up for our fifth birthday. In April 2015 we will mark five years since Matthew Byam Shaw, Nia Janis and Nick Salmon formed the company in 2010.

At just four years old, we have enjoyed a year of spectacular success in 2014 with a roster of shows that Playful either produces or general manages in the UK that has sold a staggering £130 million worth of tickets.

We started 2014 with Conor McPherson’s The Weir at the Wyndham’s Theatre. Transferring from the Donmar Warehouse, the production proved an acclaimed hit, both critically and commercially, recouping its production costs in just six weeks.

May 2014 saw the team working alongside the Royal Shakespeare Company on the West End transfer of Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies. A critical hit, both plays were commissioned and developed by Playful and were seen by over 200,000 people, breaking all previous box office records for a play at the Aldwych Theatre.

Successes in the West End have been underpinned by the UK and Ireland tour of Shrek The Musical, of which we are co-producer and general manager. The skilfully re-moulded and re-positioned production is proving a box office hit on the road, having played to packed houses in Bristol, Nottingham, Belfast, Dublin, Oxford and Manchester since setting off in August.

Matthew, Nia and Nick said yesterday, “We feel very lucky celebrating Playful’s 5th birthday in Covent Garden with our extraordinary team. In the coming year we will be working with a dazzling array of talent including Kristin Scott Thomas, Damian Lewis, Peter Morgan, Hilary Mantel, Stephen Daldry, David Hare and Helen Mirren – a wonderful way to mark this milestone.”

Continuing our passion for developing new work into 2015, we will produce The Audience, starring Helen Mirren, at the Schoenfeld Theatre on Broadway, concurrently reviving the play’s London production at the Apollo Theatre, with a cast led by Kristin Scott Thomas.

Also in 2015, we will produce Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall: Parts 1 & 2 at the Winter Garden Theatre on Broadway. Previews begin on 20 March and the productions have already sold £3 million worth of tickets. The full London cast of Wolf Hall: Parts 1 & 2 will be opening the Broadway productions, led by Ben Miles as Thomas Cromwell, Lydia Leonard as Anne Boleyn and Nathaniel Parker as King Henry VIII.

Most recently announced is a new production of David Mamet’s 1975 play American Buffalo, starring Emmy® and Golden Globe® award-winning actor Damian Lewis and directed by Daniel Evans. The play, which will be produced by Playful, is considered a classic of the American canon and will run at Wyndham’s Theatre from 16 April – 27 June 2015.

We are also delighted to announce future plans, which include a West End production of Harold Pinter’s No Man’s Land, starring Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen, the world première of a new play by David Hare and a star led musical revival in collaboration with Chichester Festival Theatre, alongside five new play and musical commissions.

We are proud to act as General Manager for more productions than any other independent theatre production company including Wicked, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the Wicked UK & Ireland Tour, the Dirty Dancing UK Tour and also the revival of Blithe Spirit starring Angela Lansbury when it ran at the Gielgud Theatre earlier this year.

Our three founding directors enjoy a raft of responsibilities elsewhere in UK theatre. Nick has served on several theatre boards and is currently on the Board of The Society of London Theatre, of which he was President for three years. Nia has previously served on the boards of Act Productions and Dumbfounded Theatre and is currently on the board of Trustees of Paines Plough. Matthew has been a long time board member of the Bush Theatre, the Sheffield Crucible and RADA. He is also an Executive Producer of the newly announced Netflix series The Crown, which is based on Peter Morgan’s The Audience.