One Man builds on War Horse success

Reporter: Caroline Bishop, first published Mon 03 Oct 2011 16:11

The National Theatre is planning to transfer its hit production of One Man, Two Guvnors to Broadway next year.

The show, which played to rave reviews and packed houses at the National Theatre this year, is already transferring to the West End next month on the back of a £2million advance. Though details are not yet confirmed, director Nicholas Hytner said today he intends to take Richard Bean’s comedy to New York next April, with the original cast reprising their roles.

Hytner, speaking at the launch of the National Theatre 2010/2011 annual report, said he hoped the show would also continue its West End run beyond its limited engagement at the Adelphi theatre, which ends in February. The production would be recast in the new venue to allow the original line-up – which includes James Corden, Daniel Rigby and Jemima Rooper – to head to New York.

One Man, Two Guvnors and the National’s other hit West End / New York transfer, War Horse, have helped the venue to a £70.6 million income over the 2010/2011 year, 48% of which came from box office receipts. The year ended with a £387,000 surplus.

War Horse – the 2007 adaptation of Michael Morpurgo’s WW1-set story – has continued its run at the New London theatre with a 97% average attendance over the past year, while the Broadway transfer, which opened in April, has achieved ticket sales of just under $1 million a week on 100% capacity. A Toronto production planned for 2012 already has a CA$3 million advance.

The commercial success of the two productions puts the National on a strong financial footing as it faces up to a £1.4 million cut in Arts Council funding in 2011/2012. Hytner said the venue had not yet had to make any cuts in activity because of the reduced subsidy, as it “has used War Horse as our cushion.” The current management team is “good at the exploitation of our successes,” he added.

Without the success of those shows, the venue may not have been able to stage productions including Emperor And Galilean – which had a cast of 50 – or current production The Kitchen, said Hytner.

Financial stability has also allowed the venue to continue its NT Live initiative, the cinema partnership which broadcasts National Theatre productions to cinemas around the world. A total of eight productions were shown through NT Live in 2010/2011, to 145,500 patrons in the UK and 215,000 in the rest of the world. Though it is not a money-making initiative, NT Live is “slowly moving into surplus” said Hytner.

The continuation of NT Live will help the venue extend its global audience to a predicted three million people by 2014, up from 1.6 million in 2010/11.


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