Fry and Lloyd Webber team up with Horlick in theatre venture

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The Independent Online

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

Called Theatreshare, it will be chaired by the author and actor Stephen Fry. Directors include Nicola Horlick, the founder of SG Asset Management UK, and the veteran theatre producer Michael Codron. André Ptaszynski, the chief executive of Really Useful, is the managing director.

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. The new company will pay Really Useful an index-linked £150,000 a year for Mr Ptaszynski's services, staff and office facilities.

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 and about £25m to £30m of productions go through Really Useful's theatres each year."

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

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