INTERVIEW WITH NICHOLAS THOMPSON
Nicholas was the artistic director of the Old Red Lion Theatre for four years (2011-14), during which time he produced and general managed on the West End, regionally and at festivals. This includes The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) (longest running Off West End comedy), The Importance of Being Earnest (Theatre Royal Haymarket), Kissing Sid James (59E59) and the Olivier award winning The Play That Goes Wrong (Trafalgar Studios). He has also worked independently throughout his career as a producer has recently set up and Nick Thompson Productions.
Recent productions include Disco Pigs (UK and Ireland tour of the JMK award winning production) and How to Succeed In Business Without Really Trying (Wilton's Music Hall).
Nicholas attended the Stage One New Producers' Workshop in 2015 and was awarded a Stage One Bursary in 2016.
At the moment you are…
...Producing the world premiere of Holy Crap at the King's Head Theatre, by the legendary Heather Brothers. Their first big hit, Slice of Saturday Night, started at the King's Head so they were eager to repeat the process. They have been amazing to work with and have an incredible career- from having multiple shows running in the west end simultaneously to writing songs for Elvis!
I'm also developing a couple of new musicals (which takes a lot of time!) and producing a UK tour of an adaption of Bizet's Carmen with the Romany Theatre Company which is workshopping at the National Theatre towards the end of the year.
After setting up your own Production Company (after being the Artistic Director of The Old Red Lion Theatre), what have been the three main learning curves for you?
- I loved working with the team at the Old Red Lion. Having their support and encouragement day to day was something I really missed. As such, building a team of people I love working with has been a real priority and I have been fortunate enough to find some great people.
- I have always wanted to work on musicals. My first musical, How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying at Wilton's Music Hall earlier this year, had a band of 10 and a massive cast. This would never have been possible at the Old Red Lion and it has been wonderful and challenging to work on considerably bigger and more demanding shows.
- Working at my kitchen table offers lot of distractions and temptation!
What does Stage One mean to you and how has Stage One developed your career?
Stage One offers direction, focus and support in a job where it can sometimes feel like there is very little. The financial aid and training are so vital when setting up, but that pales into insignificance alongside the support and guidance they offer. For me, having a mentor I can speak to has been, on many occasions, a life saver. It's a real community.
Stage One supports new producers but they also support theatre in a much wider sense. By investing in the work of new commercial producers they are providing work across the country that otherwise couldn't be produced.
When did you first discover your passions for theatre and what was your journey to becoming a Theatre Producer?
I discovered my passion for theatre fairly late. I went to a school that didn't have a drama department so it wasn't until I went to University that I was really exposed to it much. I spent most of my university years performing in shows, much to the detriment of my English degree, and subsequently followed the well-trodden path to drama school to train as an actor. I think I worked out acting was not for me pretty quickly when I discovered very few people wanted to employ me. Not to be discouraged, I started producing my own work in a bid to employ myself, yet soon discovered I didn't really want to employ me as an actor either. The first few shows I produced really gave me the bug and I didn't look back.
As I think with everyone working in the industry, there are a few shows that have built or affirmed my love of theatre throughout my training and career. Mine have been Blood Brothers (the first time I saw it!), Death of a Salesman starring Brian Dennehy, The Brothers Size at the Young Vic and London Road at the National Theatre.
Last show you saw and loved?
Junk Yard at the Rose Theatre Kingston by Headlong.
What do you think, is the best thing about the Theatre Industry?
It's exciting and varied! I was negotiating sponsorship from sex toy shops last week (you'll have to come and see Holy Crap to find out why...) and have just come out of a production meeting mostly focussing on how to make a replica human head bleed on stage.
Ultimately, it's the people that make the industry. I'm constantly amazed by the dedication and commitment of those I have worked with and admire.
What's the best piece of advice you've been given?
Don't count on the investment until it's in the bank.
Be kind and considerate.