Island couple making theatre accessible to ‘as many people as possible’
You'd expect to pay a pretty price for a ticket to see Harry Potter actor Daniel Radcliffe perform on stage in London's West End theatre district.
Yet, thanks to a funding from a Bermuda couple, hundreds of people in London had the chance to see Mr Radcliffe for only £10.
Nancy and Roger Thompson, who live on the island, recently formed their own production company called LTD Productions Inc with the aim of funding the performing arts.
Their current project is providing financial support to The Cripple of Inishmaan starring Mr Radcliffe as lead character Billy Claven. This Tony Award-nominated play is produced by Michael Grandage Company and Arielle Tepper Madover.
The storyline follows what happens when a Hollywood director visits a remote Irish island to cast his latest film. The locals clamor for their once-in-a-lifetime chance at movie stardom. But it's Billy, a frail young man with the odds stacked against him, who has the biggest Hollywood dream of them all.
The play started out in London's West End and is now being performed on Broadway in New York City. The Broadway version has the same cast and the London set was physically shipped to the United States, so that New York theatregoers would have the exact same experience as British theatre patrons.
“We love theatre and believe strongly that it should be accessible to as many people as possible,” said Mrs Thompson. “In keeping with this idea, we were happy to align ourselves with the Michael Grandage Company in London where over 100,000 tickets were sold for £10 each over the season of five plays in London. For The Cripple of Inishmaan, the entire second balcony of the Cort Theatre in New York is priced at only $27 per ticket.”
(The average ticket to see The Cripple of Inishmaan on Broadway is $86.57.)
Through their involvement, the Thompsons had the opportunity to meet Mr Radcliffe and other cast members.
“He is lovely,” said Mrs Thompson. “The entire cast is lovely, and we have had a chance to get to know them very well as we were involved with them both in London and on Broadway.”
Mr Thompson said: “It is the first play we have invested in on Broadway and now we are hoping to do some more on Broadway. It is very fulfilling to be involved. The role we take is mostly financial and we are involved a little bit in advertising and we go to advertising meetings and promotional meetings in New York. We aren't involved with the day to day running of the play.”
Mr Thompson said the play, set in Ireland, means a lot to him, because he was born in Northern Ireland in a town just west of Belfast.
“This is a play about the southwest of Ireland, but it is still interesting to me,” Mr Thompson said. “LTD Productions is about shows we have a passion for.”
The play is written by Martin McDonagh, the playwright for several other well known plays including In Bruges (2008), Seven Psychopaths (2012) and Six Shooter (2004). The Cripple of Inishmaan has been nominated for several Tony Awards. It is on in New York until July 20.
Mrs Thompson said they only invest in plays that interest them because Broadway plays can be financially risky. Only one in five shows make money.
“So we have to feel we want the public to see the piece,” she said. “If it doesn't make money, at least you feel you have offered people the opportunity to see this piece.”
Mrs Thompson has been involved in the theatre world in Bermuda.
“I have been lucky to have worked with some wonderful people while acting on stage here in Bermuda,” she said. “Bermuda is a beautiful island, so it has attracted fabulous people from the theatrical world, allowing residents to work with directors and musicians of a very high pedigree. While working with these people I had managed to make some very good contacts and it seemed an easy to transition into producing. I have produced two shows in Bermuda, one for the Gilbert and Sullivan Society, Dreamgirls, and the other for Bermuda, Musical and Dramatic Society (BMDS) production Cinderella. Although producing on the West End and on Broadway does not involve things like staffing the bar, and finding volunteers to be ushers, producing in Bermuda allowed me to understand the process and the financial side of the business.”
The Thompsons have lived in Bermuda for 20 years. Mr Thompson works on the island as an investment manager. Mrs Thompson recently started a new company redeveloping and relaunching vintage kitchen equipment.
For more information see www.ltdproductionsinc.com or www.crippleofinishmaan.com.