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The West End to Dim Lights in Memory of James M. Nederlander
Venues across the West End and on Broadway will be dimming their lights on 3 August 2016.
It has been announced that venues throughout the West End will join a number of Broadway theatres in dimming their lights on 3 August 2016 in memory of James M. Nederlander, Chairman of The Nederlander Organization who has passed away at the age of 94.
As one of the most influential figures on Broadway and in the West End, James M. Nederlander built one of the largest private live entertainment companies in the world. Throughout a career that spanned over 70 years, the Nederlander Organisation collected theatre properties in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. In London the group own the Aldwych and Dominion Theatres, and part owns the Adelphi Theatre.
Nederlander's first purchase was the Palace Theater on Broadway in 1964, and went on to expand to include the Brooks Atkinson, Gershwin, Lunt-Fontanne, Marquis, Minskoff, Nederlander, Neil Simon and Richard Rodgers, becoming legitimate competition for the powerful Schubert Organisation.
As a producer he was responsible for numerous Broadway productions, stating a preference for musical theatre, especially productions with broad-base appeal that featured musical theatre stars and celebrities. A number of his familiar hits include Sweet Charity with Gwen Verdon, Annie, Sunset Boulevard with Glenn Close, Wicked, Hairspray and In the Heights, which all played in Nederlander theatres on Broadway. That said, he was no stranger to challenging theatre and was responsible for bringing the RSC and Bolshoi Ballet to Broadway, along with groundbreaking productions such as David Edgar's eight-hour production of The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby.
Surviving the difficult 1980s on Broadway, Mr. Nederlander leased the Mark Hellinger Theater on 51st Street and Broadway to the Times Square Church in a move that caused quite a shock to contemporary producers, critics and writers.
Chief Executive of Society of London Theatre, Julian Bird, said: “James M. Nederlander was a true titan of the theatre industry. His beautiful theatres here in the West End, which are filled with thousands of people every night, are a testament to his vision and the organisation he grew on both sides of the Atlantic. He was a friend and mentor to so many in the industry and he will be missed greatly. We are proud to acknowledge his extraordinary contribution to our industry with the dimming of London’s theatre lights.”
His sentiments were echoed by Charlotte St. Martin, President of the Broadway League, who said:
“Jimmy Nederlander’s name has been synonymous with quality theatrical productions in New York City and throughout the United States throughout his career, and in recent years his name has also come to symbolize excellence and achievement when “The Jimmy™ Award” is presented annually at the National High School Musical Theatre Awards. A tribute to his passion for arts education, his legacy will help to inspire the next generation of performers and enthusiasts. Beloved by the industry, Jimmy was a loyal and trusted collaborator and a guiding mentor to so many. He was “one of a kind” and his indomitable spirit lives on throughout this country in the people he nurtured who are helping to make Broadway what it has become today. He will be sorely missed, and our thoughts are with his family and friends.”
The tradition of dimming the lights is performed to honour theatre's most prestigious and well-loved figures. The ceremony will take place before the evening’s performances on 3 August 2016 in the West End at 7pm, where the lights will dim as a mark of respect.
James M. Nederlander was awarded a special Tony Award for lifetime achievement in 2004. His contribution to theatre in the UK and USA is unlikely to ever be forgotten.