Backstage: The Story Of The Ambassador Theatre Group
| By Tom Stratford
(Updated on Aug 22, 2019)
Co-founded by Sir Howard Panter and Rosemary Squire OBE in 1992, the Ambassador Theatre Group Ltd (ATG) is the world’s number one live-theatre company with 45 venues in Britain, the US and Australia.
Who or what is ATG and why do I see it plastered everywhere in the West End?
ATG is also one of the most prolific and internationally recognised, award-winning theatre producers in the world with co-productions in the UK, continental Europe, Asia, Australia, New York, and across America. It is the market leader in theatre ticketing services through ATG Tickets, LOVETheatre and Group Line.
ATG’s impressive portfolio of West End theatres includes historic buildings such as the Apollo Victoria, Donmar Warehouse, Duke of York’s, Fortune, Harold Pinter, Lyceum, Phoenix, Piccadilly, Playhouse, Savoy and Trafalgar Studios 1 and 2. In New York, ATG owns The Lyric Theatre, the largest theatre on Broadway.
In August 2015, ATG acquired ACE Theatrical Group (ACE), a company which specialises in the operation, design, development and construction of world class, live performance venues throughout North America comprising The Kings Theatre in Brooklyn, New York, The Saenger Theatre in New Orleans, Louisiana, The Mahalia Jackson Theater for the Performing Arts in New Orleans, Louisiana, The Majestic Theatre in San Antonio, Texas and The Charline McCombs Empire Theatre in San Antonio, Texas.
Earlier that month, ATG became leaseholder and took over the management of the Theatre Royal, Sydney’s oldest theatrical institution, one of the city’s premier venues and ATG’s first theatre in the Asia Pacific region.
ATG has regional UK theatres in Aylesbury, Birmingham, Brighton, Bristol, Bromley, Edinburgh, Folkestone, Glasgow, Liverpool, Manchester, Milton Keynes, Oxford, Richmond, Southport, Stoke-on-Trent, Sunderland, Torquay, Wimbledon, Woking and York.
ATG has offices in London, New York, Sydney, Mannheim and Cologne and is poised to accelerate international expansion.
What are some of the hottest ATG shows in recent memory?
Current and recent ATG co-productions include Oresteia, The Ruling Class starring James McAvoy, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown starring Tamsin Greig, East is East starring Jane Horrocks, Richard III starring Martin Freeman, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels starring Robert Lindsay, Jersey Boys, Priscilla Queen of the Desert starring Jason Donovan/Duncan James, Inala, Love Me Tender, Macbeth starring James McAvoy, The Hothouse starring Simon Russell Beale and John Simm, Passion Play starring Zoë Wanamaker, Posh, Jumpy and Constellations (Royal Court at the Duke of York’s), Dolly Parton’s 9 to 5 The Musical, Legally Blonde The Musical, Monty Python’s Spamalot, The Rocky Horror Show, Goodnight Mister Tom, The Mystery of Charles Dickens starring Simon Callow, South Pacific starring Samantha Womack and Paulo Szot, All New People starring Zach Braff, Ghost The Musical, Matthew Bourne’s Nutcracker!, Being Shakespeare starring Simon Callow, The Misanthrope starring Damian Lewis and Keira Knightley, West Side Story, Elling starring John Simm and Guys and Dolls starring Ewan McGregor.
ATG is also mounting productions around the world. ATG’s productions in Australia include Legally Blonde The Musical, Thriller Live, The Rocky Horror Show, Guys and Dolls and West Side Story. Recent ATG productions on Broadway include The Mountaintop starring Samuel L Jackson and Angela Bassett, Exit The King starring Geoffrey Rush and Susan Sarandon, and John Doyle’s award-winning production of Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd. ATG also co-produced Constellations on Broadway and is currently co-producing multi-Tony Award-winning The King and I with Lincoln Center Theatre.
Other facts about ATG and other theatre production companies you probably didn't know
ATG has a number of major production company initiatives/partnerships including Jerry Mitchell Productions, Theatre Royal Brighton Productions and Jamie Lloyd Productions. ATG also owns a major national family entertainment and pantomime company, First Family Entertainment (FFE).
ATG has a group partner company Sonia Friedman Productions (SFP), which is a West End and Broadway production company responsible for some of the most successful theatre productions in London and on Broadway over the past few years. Recent SFP West End and Broadway theatre productions and co-productions include the UK premiere of The Book of Mormon, Jez Butterworth’s The River on Broadway starring Hugh Jackman, The Nether, Bend it Like Beckham the Musical, Hamlet starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Electra, King Charles III, Sunny Afternoon, Shakespeare in Love, Jerusalem, Ghosts, Mojo, Chimerica, Twelfth Night & Richard III and Old Times. Sonia has also collaborated with J. K. Rowling for the new stage play based on the Harry Potter stories in co-production with Colin Callender. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child has been playing London's West End for three years now, often to packed houses night after night at the Palace Theatre in Soho.
ATG is the majority shareholder of BB Group, one of the leading producers and promoters of premium live entertainment in Europe with a particular strength in touring musicals and dance productions throughout Germany, Austria and Switzerland. BB Group productions include West Side Story, We Will Rock You, The Rocky Horror Show, Cats, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and Ballet Revolución and its 2015 co¬productions include The Lion King and The Bodyguard. BB Group has won the tender to re-develop the “Staatenhaus” in Cologne as a 1,700 seat theatre.