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Hackney Empire unveils new season and team

First Published 17 April 2008, Last Updated 18 April 2008

A new management team takes charge at the Hackney Empire as the theatre builds on its best ever box office season, which saw a record number of audience members passing through its doors. Simon Thomsett, Hackney Empire's Chief Executive, is joined by Susie McKenna, Stuart Shanks and Andrew Higgins. The autumn 2007 season, which was also announced, includes an eclectic mix of drama, opera, family entertainment, stand up comedy and Hackney Empire's annual pantomime.

Among the new moves made in the autumn season is Hackney Empire's first partnership with producer Bill Kenwright, which sees the Agatha Christie Theatre Company perform The Unexpected Guest at the end of October. One of the aims of the new management team in the coming year is to develop the range of work performed at the venue by blending touring productions with 'home grown' pieces.

Other highlights to look forward to in 2008 include the return of the popular musical Da Kink In My Hair, Teatr Licedei's The Family and a new production directed by Steven Berkoff.

Before that, the autumn season includes comedy appearances by Russell Brand, Felix Dexter, Rory Bremner, Jo Brand and Jimmy Carr, opera from English Touring Opera, the stage show from children's television favourite Lazy Town, and the return of Clive Rowe in the Susie McKenna-penned pantomime Dick Whittington And His Cat.

McKenna, who is a writer, director and performer – her most recent West End credit came playing Mama Morton in Chicago – joins the Hackney Empire as Associate Director. Shanks joins from Walt Disney Theatrical Productions as Head of Finance and Administration. Higgins, who takes the position of Head of Marketing, Communications and Development, formerly worked for English Touring Opera and English National Opera.

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