Independent theatre producer André Ptaszynski passed away yesterday morning. André was a valued member of the Society Of London Theatre board and a previous president of the organisation.
Society of London Theatre has released the below statement:
“We were shocked and saddened to hear of the sudden death of André Ptaszynski and our thoughts and condolences go out to his wife Judith, his children and all his many colleagues and friends.
“André was a passionate advocate for the industry and a huge supporter of the work of the Society of London Theatre in his role as president from 1996 to 1999 and as a long-standing member of the board.
“His illustrious career as a multi Olivier award-winning independent producer, Chief Executive of Really Useful Group, plus his numerous board roles and television work gave him a unique perspective of both the commercial and subsidised sector and the needs of both the producer, venue owner and audiences. His knowledge and experience were unsurpassed and he brought all of this to bear in his support of the sector and his passing is a huge loss.
“Perhaps more than anything else, he was an inspiring, thoughtful and respected friend to so many people in the industry. In this recent pandemic period, he has been a calm voice of reason and optimism, helping guide and support the executive team, the board and wider membership. His humour, charm, generosity and warmth were legendary and he will be sorely missed by all who had the privilege to know him.”
Early in his career, André ran his own theatre and television production company. He was a producer on five productions that won Best Musical Olivier Awards and Evening Standard Awards throughout the 1990s: Return to the Forbidden Planet, Show Boat, Tommy, Chicago, and Spend Spend Spend.
He was also involved in comedy, promoting acts including Rik Mayall, Victoria Wood, The League Of Gentlemen, Eddie Izzard and Armstrong and Miller. With his company, Pola Jones, he produced several comedy series for the BBC.
André was Chief Executive of Really Useful Theatres from 2000 to 2005, and the Really Useful Group from 2005 to 2011. From 2000 to 2019 he programmed Andrew Lloyd Webber’s West End Theatres. During this time he produced a new production of Evita, Love Never Dies, Bombay Dreams, Our House and Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert among others.
More recently, he was one of the lead producers of new musical Groundhog Day, which opened at the Old Vic in 2016 before transferring to Broadway. He was Executive Producer worldwide for the RSC’s Matilda The Musical. Both productions won Best New Musical Olivier Awards.
André has also sat on the board of Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts as well as the National Theatre.
Lisa Burger & Rufus Norris, Executive Directors of The National Theatre have released the below statement:
“We were devastated to hear of the death yesterday of André Ptaszynski, long-serving Board member and treasured friend of the National Theatre. André served on the main National Theatre Board from 2001-2010 and was most recently a non-executive director of National Theatre Productions where, with wisdom and warmth, he guided our tours, transfers and cinema broadcasts. André devoted his life to supporting UK theatre.
“His knowledge of every corner of the industry was unsurpassed, and he brought all of it to bear in helping the NT engage the widest possible audiences – from taking War Horse to 13 countries around the world, to reaching 11 million people through NT Live. At a time when theatre is in great peril, it has lost one of its greatest champions. We offer our sincere condolences to André’s family and all who knew and loved him.”
Gregory Doran, RSC Artistic Director and Catherine Mallyon, Executive Director said:
“We were deeply shocked to hear of the unexpected death of André Ptaszynski. André was a leading figure in the West End and wider entertainment industry for decades – producing shows across the world, running theatres and passionately and tirelessly representing the industry on Boards and other forums.
“For the RSC he was, with Denise Wood, one of the two Executive Producers for Matilda The Musical. He came on board during the original run in Stratford-upon-Avon as we began to set up the London transfer and subsequently helped steer the show to its incredible global success across the last decade.
“His irrepressible charm, humour, laser instinct and clear sighted business sense (and endless theatrical anecdotes) made him one the most successful and admired Producers of recent times. André’s unbounded love for Matilda The Musical, his endless commitment, his total support for everyone involved in all the productions, and his joy in sitting in audiences across the world, was inspiring. And very special.
“He will be deeply missed by us and the entire industry as we start to process this tragic news. Our thoughts are with his wife Judith, his children and his family at this most difficult of times.”