Lloyd Webber starts new theatreland company

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The Independent Culture

Less than two weeks after announcing the closure of his Cats and Starlight Express shows, Lord Lloyd-Webber is behind a new company raising £2m to invest in West End theatre productions.

The Theatreshare company will be chaired by the author and actor Stephen Fry. Directors include Nicola Horlick, founder of SG Asset Management UK, the so-called "superwoman" who raised six children while becoming a City millionaire, and a veteran theatre producer, Michael Codron. André Ptaszynski, chief executive of Lord Lloyd-Webber's Really Useful company, is managing director.

Minimum investment is £2,500, for which investors receive eight free theatre tickets a year, priority access to Really Useful's ticketing service, discounts and a newsletter.

Theatreshare will feed shows into Lord Lloyd-Webber's 13 Really Useful Theatres, including the London Palladium, Her Majesty's, the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane and all the theatres on Shaftesbury Avenue.

Theatreshare will begin trading in the spring, and intends to produce seven or eight plays plus two or three musicals a year, with a maximum of £100,000 in each production. Already lined up are Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Our House, Bombay Dreams and the London production of the New York hit The Producers.

Mr Ptaszynski said: "I want to make the quality of West End plays better. The £2m would be peanuts to Andrew Lloyd Webber personally, but it's a matter of risk-spreading."

A fall-off in ticket sales after the 11 September terrorist attacks in the US are seen as the main reason for recent closures.