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Sir Howard Panter
Sir Howard Panter in 2010
Howard Hugh Panter
25 May 1949
|Occupation||Theatre producer and manager|
Sir Howard Hugh Panter (born 25 May 1949) is a British theatre impresario and theatre operator. He was founder, co-owner, joint chief executive and creative director of the Ambassador Theatre Group Ltd, the world's number one live-theatre company with almost 50 venues in Britain, the US and Europe. Panter and his wife/business partner, Dame Rosemary Squire, remain the second largest shareholder of ATG.
Under his leadership, ATG became from scratch one of the most prolific, broad-based theatre producers in the world with productions in the West End and on Broadway including touring productions in the UK, North America, Europe, Australia and Asia. As Creative Director of ATG Productions, Panter produced and co-produced musicals and drama for the West End, internationally and on national tours.
Panter is currently co-founder, Joint CEO and Creative Director of Trafalgar Entertainment, a live entertainment business and home to Trafalgar Studios, Trafalgar Theatre Productions, Trafalgar Releasing (formerly Picturehouse Entertainment), Chiswick Cinema and Stagecoach Performing Arts.
The production arm of the company, Trafalgar Theatre Productions, is producing a group of new shows and classic musicals in London and internationally including the Lincoln Center's award-winning production of The King and I at the London Palladium and now worldwide, The Rocky Horror Show worldwide and at Trafalgar Studios; A Day in the Death of Joe Egg, English Touring Theatre and Theatre Royal Stratford East's production of Equus by Peter Shaffer, The Wardrobe Ensemble's hit comedy Education, Education, Education, the acclaimed award-winning play Admissions starring Alex Kingston, new British musical Tom Morris' The Grinning Man, Apologia starring Stockard Channing and Killer Joe starring Orlando Bloom. Other co-productions and transfers to Trafalgar Studios have included the two sell-out ground breaking new British productions: the Bush Theatre's Misty and the National Theatre's Nine Night.
The largest shareholder of Trafalgar Entertainment is Barings Alternative Investment, which operates as a subsidiary of MassMutual Holding LLC, with assets under management of US$771 billion. Other shareholders include Greg Dyke, James Tanner, NWH Consulting Ltd, Sir Richard Branson and Griffon Corporation.
Panter is a Director of Rocky Horror Company Limited. He was Chairman of the English Shakespeare Company and Director of West End theatre owners Maybox Group plc. He serves on the LAMDA Development Council and was Chair of Rambert Dance Company for ten years. Under Panter's Chairmanship, Rambert Dance Company successfully built their award-winning new dance centre on the South Bank and led the company into a new era of success and stability.
Panter and Squire, have been ranked in The Stage 100 newspaper's guide to the 100 most influential people in UK Theatre. Between 2010 - 2016 they topped The Stage 100 for seven years making them the most successful entrants on the list ever.
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Howard Panter was born in Hillingdon Hospital in 1949. His first unpaid "showbiz" job was as impresario and stage manager for the group the Norsemen in Iwerne Minster, Dorset. One of his first jobs was as a technician with the London Contemporary Dance Theatre. From there, he pursued a career in Stage Management with The Royal Court Theatre and then went on to work for Woodfall Films, where in 1969, he worked as Stage Manager on a production of Hamlet, starring Nicol Williamson.
Throughout the 1970s, Panter worked in areas such Stage Management, Technical Management, Lighting Design and Directing for a number of companies including Soho Poly, Knightsbridge Productions (as Production Associate), King's Head Theatre, the Royal Shakespeare Company and Michael Codron Ltd. In the late 1970s, Panter became a Producer for the Stirling Rigg Organisation.
Panter started the 1980s as a producer for Freedman/Panter Productions. He then went on to become Managing Director for Independent Theatrical Productions and in 1987 joined Turnstyle Group Ltd as Managing Director and Producer.
With the backing of Sir Eddie Kulukundis and brothers Peter and Sir John Beckwith, Panter and Squire establish Ambassador Theatre Group with acquisitions of the Duke of York's Theatre and The Ambassadors (Renamed New Ambassadors in 1999), London.
The expansion of ATG continues when Panter and Squire acquire the Ambassadors Theatre and Cinema Complex in Woking. They extend the group with the management contract for Theatre Royal, Brighton, the newly built Milton Keynes Theatre and the Regent Theatre and Victoria Hall in Stoke-on-Trent.
2000 was a pivotal year for Squire and Panter, with the acquisition of further regional venues Churchill Theatre, Bromley and Richmond Theatre, in Surrey, and with the purchase of ACT Theatres (Albery, Donmar Warehouse, Fortune, Phoenix, Piccadilly, Comedy, Whitehall (renamed Trafalgar Studios in 2004) and Wyndhams), the Playhouse Theatre, London, and Theatre Royal Brighton. Squire joined the Board of Management of the Society of London Theatres and Arts Council Capital Advisory Panel.
In 2002, Panter and Squire's first venue in Scotland came with the King's Theatre, Glasgow. Between 2000 and 2003, ATG continued to acquire theatres in the West End and the UK regions, and co-produced 25 shows in 2003 alone.
In 2004, Squire and Panter took over the closed Wimbledon Theatre, reopening it as the New Wimbledon Theatre. Their Scottish portfolio extended in 2005, with a lease and management contract for the Theatre Royal, Glasgow. In the years 2004 and 2005, the Savoy Theatre in London became ATG's 24th venue, making ATG the largest theatre group in the West End, and second largest in the UK. ATG were also prolific producers in London, regionally and internationally. Trafalgar Studio 2 opened at the Trafalgar Studios, London.
In November 2009, they realigned their share holding to bring in private equity group Exponent for a deal to secure the funding for the acquisition of Live Nation's UK Theatre portfolio. ATG became the largest theatre group in the UK. Panter remains joint-owner and becomes joint Chief Executive and Creative Director. Greg Dyke became Executive Chairman of the larger group.
- 2010 - Squire and Panter opened the Aylesbury Waterside Theatre, their 42nd theatre (and 39th currently within ATG). The Ambassador Theatre Group Ltd (ATG) was shortlisted in 2010's Ones to Recognise feature which is published as part of The Sunday Times PricewaterhouseCoopers Profit Track 100 Ones to Recognise.
From 2010-16, Squire and Panter topped The Stage 100 a record-breaking seven times consecutively. It firmly established Squire as the most prominent woman in British theatre of the modern era and made the couple the most successful entrants ever on the list.
- 2011 - ATG selected AudienceView Ticketing as its ticketing technology provider. In February 2011 ATG announced that it had successfully secured a new five-year management contract for Churchill Theatre Bromley, beginning in April 2011. Following the hugely successful run of Ghost The Musical at the Opera House, Squire and Panter/The Ambassador Theatre Group Ltd (ATG) launched its Manchester Gets it First (MGiF) initiative – the company's commitment to bringing the biggest new musicals to Manchester before London and other major cities.
In July 2011, ATG became the first theatre company in the world to install the new innovative ProBax seating at the Fortune Theatre in London. In August 2011, ATG announced its first full year results since its £90 million purchase of Live Nation's UK theatres, revealing [a 5% increase in turnover and a 3% increase in profit on the combined company] steady growth. In September, ATG announced that London's Comedy Theatre would be renamed the Harold Pinter Theatre, after the distinguished playwright, screenwriter, director, political activist and actor. ATG launched ATG Theatre Card in November – the UK's biggest theatre membership scheme with 100,000 members and growing - and also launched ATG's new website.
In December 2011, ATG announced it had partnered with Tony Award®-winner Jerry Mitchell, the acclaimed director and choreographer, to form Jerry Mitchell Productions.
- In February 2012, ATG was announced as the UK's second fastest growing privately backed company in The Sunday Times's Buyout Track 100, sponsored by Deloitte. The annual league table ranks companies by growth in profits.
In May 2012, ATG officially launched Theatre Royal Brighton Productions' inaugural production, Pinero's classic comedy, Dandy Dick at Brighton Race Course. Theatre Royal Brighton Productions was launched to create new play productions in Brighton, regionally, and in London, with Artistic Director Christopher Luscombe and Associate Directors Maria Aitken and Philip Franks. ATG announced The Ripple Effect, a piece of new writing being premiered in different regions of the UK. The aim of the project was to connect with young people from diverse backgrounds with limited experience of arts engagement.
In August, ATG announced that it had partnered with acclaimed director, Jamie Lloyd, to form Jamie Lloyd Productions. In September, ATG announced details of how it was investing £15 million into capital projects which included a major overhaul of the company's Front of House areas, bars and toilets, to improve facilities for customers.
ATG announced details of a relaxed performance pilot scheme for the 2012-13 pantomime season with Churchill Theatre Bromley, Grimsby Auditorium and Richmond Theatre taking part. The scheme was supported by the Society of London Theatre (SOLT), the Theatrical Management Association (TMA) and the National Autistic Society (NAS) who collaborated with ATG on the delivery of these performances. November saw the appointment of Tim McFarlane as CEO for ATG Asia/Pacific. At the end of the year, ATG announced that it had successfully bid to continue operating the Regent Theatre and Victoria Hall in Stoke-on-Trent for the next ten years.
In May 2013, ATG, through its subsidiary, Lyric Theatre LLC, acquired the Foxwoods Theatre from Live Nation Entertainment. The Foxwoods Theatre, the largest theatre on Broadway, is situated on 42nd Street, opened in 1997 and seats nearly 2,000 people. It is home to Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, and became ATG's 40th venue. In November, ATG and First Family Entertainment (FFE) joined forces with the charity When You Wish Upon A Star for the pantomime season. In December 2013, ATG announced that it had completed a deal to acquire 100% ownership of the Savoy and Playhouse Theatre's in London's West End, and ATG confirmed it had completed the purchase of theatre ticketing agency, The Ticket Machine Group Ltd (TMG).
- 2014 – in January 2014, ATG and Sonia Friedman Productions (SFP) co-produce Mike Nichols' production of Harold Pinter's Betrayal, starring Daniel Craig, Rachel Weisz and Rafe Spall. That same month, ATG Asia Pacific co-produced an Australian production of the 40th Anniversary UK production of The Rocky Horror Show. Also in January, ATG appointed Peter Monks in the role of Commercial Director of ATG Tickets. In February, ATG's critically acclaimed production of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels premiered at the Opera House in Manchester and Aylesbury Waterside Theatre, prior to a West End transfer. In March, ATG's Technical Apprenticeship Programme won the award for Best Collaboration Between Industry and Education at the Creative & Cultural Skills Conference.
In April 2014, David Lazar was promoted to the newly created role of Executive Director. In May 2014, ATG's production of Annie Get Your Gun starring Jason Donovan launched a UK Tour. In June 2014, Squire was named the only Master Entrepreneur for the London & South Region at EY's Entrepreneur of the Year 2014 Awards. In August 2014, ATG's Theatre Royal Productions and English Touring Theatre launched a joint production of Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia. In September, ATG expanded its Technical Apprenticeship programme to more theatres, following a successful pilot year.
In December 2014, ATG's Broadway co-production of Constellations starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Ruth Wilson opened at MTC's Samuel J. Friedman Theatre. At the end of the year, ATG began work as co-producer of a major new production of The King and I with the Lincoln Center in New York.
- 2015 – in January, ATG's productions of Spamalot and Jersey Boys continued their tours of the UK. The Rocky Horror Show toured Europe and On the Town continued to play at ATG's Lyric Theatre on Broadway. In Australia, ATG launched Thriller Live. Sonia Friedman Productions (SFP) – The Book of Mormon, Shakespeare in Love and Sunny Afternoon continued to play in the West End. In January, Theatre Royal Brighton Productions' co-production, with English Touring Theatre, of Stoppard's Arcadia opened at Theatre Royal Brighton before going on tour, and ATG appointed UK theatre executive Stuart Griffiths in the new role of Programming Director.
In April, Sonia Friedman Productions (SFP)'s production of Sunny Afternoon won four Olivier Awards for Best New Musical, Outstanding Achievement in Music (for Ray Davies), Best Actor in a Musical and Best Actor in a Supporting Role in a Musical. In May, Sonia Friedman Productions (SFP)'s Bend it Like Beckham opened at the Phoenix Theatre London. In June, Squire became the first woman ever to represent the UK at the EY World Entrepreneur Awards in Monaco, one of only 6 woman world finalists in a field of 60 overall, and shortlisted to the final 10.
ATG's co-production of The King and I with Lincoln Center Theatre collected 4 Tony Awards, and ATG won a Green World Ambassador 2015 Award for helping others to help the environment. The award was presented by the Green Organisation. Group Line won the award for Best Group Ticketing Agency at the UK Group Travel Awards. In the same month, Ambassadors Cinemas in Woking launches a programme of relaxed cinema screenings.
In July 2015, ATG topped the sixth annual Sunday Times HSBC International Track 200. The league table ranks Britain's mid-market private companies with the fastest-growing international sales. In August 2015, ATG agreed terms with the co-owners of Sydney's MLC Centre – QIC and The GPT Group – for the lease and management of the Theatre Royal in Sydney, Australia, a milestone development that marked ATG's first theatre in the Asia Pacific area, and a region that will continue to play a major part in ATG's international expansion.
In September 2015, ATG completed the acquisition of ACE Theatrical Group (ACE) in the US, a company which specialises in the operation, design, development and construction of world class, live performance venues throughout North America. ACE's portfolio of large-scale theatrical venues now comprises the Kings Theatre in Brooklyn, New York; the Saenger Theatre in New Orleans, Louisiana; the Majestic Theatre in San Antonio, Texas; and the Charline McCombs Empire Theatre in San Antonio.
In September, Cirque du Soleil announced that it planned to spend $25 million to mount a show called Paramour at ATG's Lyric Theatre, the largest Broadway house, opening in spring 2016. In October, ATG's award-winning Project Blackout initiative won a Green World Award from the Green Organisation at the 2015 award ceremony. In November, The Jamie Lloyd Company returned to Trafalgar Studios with Harold Pinter's The Homecoming. In December 2015, ATG announced that it would reopen and operate Broadway's historic Hudson Theatre.
Through its subsidiary, Hudson Theatre LLC, ATG had entered a long-term lease for The Hudson Theatre, its second theatre on Broadway, from a subsidiary of Millennium & Copthorne Hotels plc groups of companies (M&C). M&C and ATG are, in a multimillion-dollar project to restore the landmark venue to its former glory as a Broadway playhouse.
- 2016 - Howard Panter and Rosemary Squire topped The Stage 100 for a record-breaking seventh consecutive year following a landmark year of international acquisitions and production investment. The announcement made Panter and Squire the most successful entrants ever on the list, compiled annually by the UK industry's leading newspaper, which ranks the powerhouses of British theatre. 2016 ATG productions include the continuation of The Rocky Horror Show UK Tour, The End of Longing and The Maids, and SFP's Shuffle Along, Funny Girl, and Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Parts I and II).
Panter and Squire stepped down from their roles at Ambassador Theatre Group to concentrate on new projects. In 2016, they co-founded a new live entertainment business, Trafalgar Entertainment and acquired the two-space West End theatre, Trafalgar Studios.
2017 - Panter and Squire's new company acquired the market leader Trafalgar Releasing (a rebrand of Picturehouse Entertainment) who broadcast productions live worldwide, from The RSC, Glyndebourne, Met Opera, Bolshoi Ballet to David Gilmour, Muse, Coldplay, BTS, The Cure and Trafalgar Theatre Production's production of The King and I.
2018 - Trafalgar Entertainment acquired Stagecoach Performing Arts, the UK market leader in extra-curricular Performing Arts tuition with over 1,800 schools and classes and over 48,000 students in the UK and worldwide.
Note: Produced by Panter unless otherwise noted
- 9 to 5 (UK tour and London)
- A Day in the Death of Joe Egg, 2019 London
- A Midsummer Night's Dream, 2003 London
- Admissions, 2019 London and UK Tour
- After Mrs Rochester, 2003, London
- All New People (UK regions and London)
- Annie Get Your Gun, 2014 UK tour
- Apologia, 2018 London
- Being Shakespeare (London, UK tour, New York and Chicago)
- Blue/Orange (UK tour)
- Carmen Jones, 1991 London
- Company, 2006–2007 Broadway
- Dandy Dick (UK tour)
- Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, 2014 London
- Education, Education, Education, 2019 London
- Elling, 2007 London &, 2010 Broadway
- Equus, 2019 London
- Exit The King, 2009 Broadway
- Far Away, 2000 & 2001 London
- Fat Pig, 2008 London
- Ghost The Musical, 2011 Manchester, 2011 London
- Goodnight Mister Tom (London)
- Guys and Dolls, 2005–2007 London, 2006 & 2007 UK Tour, 2008–2009 Australia, 2009 Broadway
- Joe Egg, 2001 London, 2003 Broadway, 2009 UK Tour
- Jersey Boys (London)
- Jersey Boys, 2017 UK Tour
- Killer Joe, 2018 London
- La Cage Aux Folles (national US tour)
- Legally Blonde, 2009 London
- Legally Blonde (London, national tour and Sydney)
- Macbeth (London)
- Mary Stuart, 2018 London
- Matthew Bourne's Highland Fling, 2005 London, 2005 UK Tour
- Matthew Bourne's Nutcracker!, 2002, 2003, 2007-08 London, 2003 & 2008 UK Tour, 2004 Worldwide Tour
- Misty, 2018 London
- Maurice's Jubilee (UK tour)* Monkee Business (regional tour)
- Mouth To Mouth, 2001 London
- My One and Only, 2002 London
- Nine Night, 2019 London
- Noises Off, 2001, 2002 & 2003 London, 2008 UK Tour, 2001 Broadway
- Oresteia, 2015 London
- Passion Play (London)
- Porgy and Bess, 2006-07 London
- Posh, Jumpy and Constellations (Royal Court at the Duke of York's, London)
- Pretending To Be Me, 2003 London
- Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (UK tour)
- Richard III, 2014 London
- Riflemind, 2008 London
- Rocky Horror Show, 2009-10 UK Tour, 2008 Australia
- The Rocky Horror Show 40th Anniversary (UK tour)
- The Rocky Horror Show, 2018 UK Tour and International Tour
- Shakespeare, The Man from Stratford, 2010 UK Tour
- Shockheaded Peter, 2001 & 2002 London
- Smokey Joe's Café, 1996-98 London
- South Pacific (London and national tour)
- Spamalot (London and UK tour)
- Stephen Poliakoff's Sweet Panic, 2003-04 London
- Sunset Boulevard, 2008–2009 London
- Sweeney Todd, 2004-05 London, 2006 UK Tour, 2005-06 Broadway
- The Grinning Man, 2018 London
- The Height of The Storm, 2018 London
- The Homecoming, 2015 London
- The Hothouse, 2013 London
- The King and I, 2018 - London, UK and International Tour
- The Last Cigarette, 2009 London
- The Lover The Collection, 2008 London
- The Messiah, 2018 London and UK Tour
- The Misanthrope, 2009 London
- The Mountaintop, 2009 London
- The Mountaintop (Broadway)
- The Mystery of Charles Dickens, 2000, 2001 & 2002 London, 2002 Broadway
- The Mystery of Charles Dickens 2012 (London)
- The New Statesman, 2006-07 London, 2006 UK Tour
- The Pride, 2014 London and UK tour
- The Ruling Class, 2015 London
- The Starry Messenger, 2019 London
- The Three Sisters, 2003 London
- Vincent In Brixton, 2002, 2002 & 2003 London, 2003 UK Tour, 2003 Broadway
- Vulcan VII, 2018 UK Tour
- The Weir, 1997 & 1998 London, 1999 Broadway
- West Side Story, 2008 London, 2008-09 UK Tour, 1995 & 1996-97 Australia
- Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, 2014 London
Honours and awards
- Drama Desk Awards (US)
- 2006 Outstanding Revival of a Musical - Sweeney Todd
- 2007 Outstanding Revival of a Musical – Company
- Ernst & Young (UK)
- 2008 Entrepreneur of the Year - Regional Finalist (with Rosemary Squire)
- Olivier Awards (UK)
- 1992 Musical of the Year - Carmen Jones
- 1998 Best Entertainment - Slava's Snow Show
- 1999 Best New Play - The Weir
- 2002 Best Entertainment - Shockheaded Peter
- 2003 Best New Play - Vincent In Brixton
- 2006 Outstanding Musical Production - Guys and Dolls
- 2009 Best Musical Revival - La Cage Aux Folles
- 2019 Best Costume Design - The King and I
- Manchester Evening News Awards (UK)
- McNaughton Review (Italy)
- 2006 Best Magazine Award (for the company's Ambassador Magazine)
- RAAM Awards (UK)
- 2009 UK Independent Cinema of the Year (for Ambassadors Cinema, Woking)
- The Stage 100's Top 100 People In British Theatre (UK)
- 2010 No.1 (Shared With Rosemary Squire)
- 2011 No.1 (Shared With Rosemary Squire)
- 2012 No.1 (Shared with Rosemary Squire)
- 2013 No.1 (Shared with Rosemary Squire)
- 2014 No.1 (Shared with Rosemary Squire)
- 2015 No.1 (Shared with Rosemary Squire)
- 2016 No.1 (Shared with Rosemary Squire)
- The Sunday Times(UK)
In April 2013, ATG is ranked at no. 6 on The Sunday Times PwC Profit Track 100 list, published today in the Business section of The Sunday Times. The 100 firms are ranked by their profit growth over a three-year period.
- Tony Awards (US)
- 2007 Best Revival of a Musical – Company
- Time Out Live Awards (UK)
- 2006 Best Production - Guys And Dolls
- Whatsonstage Theatregoers Choice Awards (UK)
Born in Hillingdon Hospital, Hillingdon, Middlesex, England, he emigrated to Australia in 1951 with his parents Hugh and Hilary, returning to England in 1959 to be educated at Clayesmore School, Dorset before studying Production at Lamda.
Marriage and family
Sir Howard is married to his business partner Lady Panter (Rosemary Squire), OBE. The couple met in 1979 at the Queen's Theatre, London, where Squire was working in the box office during Panter's production of Patricia Routledge in And a Nightingale Sang. They married in 1994; Panter's best man was Simon Callow. They had their first child, Kate, in 2002. Sir Howard is the step-father to Squire's two children from her first marriage, Jenny (born 1986) and Dan (born 1987).
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- Awaiting reference
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