INTERVIEW WITH SCALA THEATRE
Scala Theatre Ltd is a new theatre production company formed by independent producers Chris Wheeler and Niall Bailey. Chris attended the Stage One New Producers' Workshop in May 2015 and after receiving a Stage One Bursary (for Scala Theatre in October 2015) Niall also attended the Workshop in May 2016. Independently Chris has been the associate producer on The West End Men at the Vaudeville Theatre, London, UK and Asian tours, a new arena production of Chess in the Channel Islands and When Darkness Falls – a new play. Niall founded the Guildford Fringe Company and produced Jason Robert Brown’s The Last 5 Years and Me As A Penguin by Tom Wells. Other productions include Four Unlikely Lovers at the Jermyn Street Theatre and A Grand Night for Singing at the Cottier Theatre, Glasgow. Niall is also an award nominated musical director and has worked on productions such as Sweeney Todd and Bernstein’s Mass at the Royal Festival Hall, The Hired Man at the Landor Theatre and many concerts and charity performances in and around the West End.
Their first production for Scala Theatre, was a brand new musical revue inspired by the life and lyrics of Lorenz Hart at Guildford’s Yvonne Arnaud Theatre starring the Olivier award winning Paul Clarkson and Gay Soper. They are currently producing the The Stripper at the St James Theatre Studio.
At the moment you are…
We are about to close our first London run: The Stripper by Richard O'Brien and Richard Hartley at the St James Theatre. It's a great show that's been very well received by audiences. And we've learned a great deal in producing it.
We're busy working on a couple of other projects which are at early stages of commissioning and development. We're hoping to be able to move into pre-production on these early next year.
What does Stage One mean to you?
We have both been selected to attend the Stage One New Producers’ Workshop and a couple of the Stage Two courses; and we were awarded a bursary in October 2015. What ties these together is the support network that we are now fortunate to be a part of. It has given us a great deal more confidence to go out to meet people, ask questions and seek out opportunities.
Last show you saw and loved?
Niall: I managed to catch a friend of mine covering one of the leads in Show Boat. She was brilliant and I loved the entire show too. It's got a special place in my heart.
Also, I recently went to The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime again and I loved it just as much as the first time. Such inventive story telling, great design and a terrific cast. The final lines had me in bits. Again!
Chris: After seeing it again recently, I still think Les Misérables is one of the greatest shows ever to be staged. As a commercial producer I constantly question why it is still running after thirty years, trying to figure out what the magic formula is! In short, I believe that it is the perfect package. Each element of the show from the score, design and direction to the brand, casting and legacy demonstrates the highest quality in our industry.
What do you think is the best thing about the Theatre Industry?
How people from all disciplines are so keen to collaborate and the sheer amount of talent we hold in this country. The kind of theatre-making we admire is the kind where all departments work together and come up with creative solutions to problems.
What's the best piece of advice you've been given?
"Everything is negotiable" I think sometimes as new producers we can over-worry about what is "normal" or what the going rate is. Actually, as long as people are treated fairly, and that risk and reward are in proportion for both parties, we've found that there's a lot more room to manoeuvre than we'd previously thought.
At the end of the day, collaborators are usually very keen to do something creative. Most people we've worked with, it hasn’t been down to the money but about being involved in something good and working with other good people.