From Lichfield to Broadway

Adrian Jackson, Consultant Artistic Director for the Garrick Theatre promised us a 'theatrical evening' in his presentation on directing the Arts. Adrian is a Consultant to the District Council and works three days a week at the theatre. While coming from a family of musicians, professional and amateur, his father insisted on a `proper job' too, so while studying science at Leicester University he played the trombone at night in the Haymarket Theatre. After eight years gaining both musical, science and management experience, he decided to pursue a musical career and went to the West End, establishing his own Company, Orchestra and Choir and is currently involved in a new musical on Broadway. All the right ingredients for managing the Garrick, especially at a particularly challenging time for the venue.

From an overspending of 293,000, the end of 2007 should see the finances back on track, with 110% support from the Council and Portfolio Holder, Matthew Ellis, much of the low morale has been overcome by the now hardworking staff seeking success mo e positively. This has resulted in nomination for a Theatrical Management Award. While intended to be multi-purpose, the Garrick is really a theatre. It needs to create excitement which the cafe' and bar did not provide, hence Adrian's changes to the interior. The intention is to attract people from across the region, to support Lichfield's economy. Programming is a challenge, specialist theatre tends to be unpopular. Adrian's aim appears to favour `the middle of the road'.

There is now a resident professional Company, soon to provide two weeks of Rep' in the Studio. Work with the community is important, particularly with education. The Company will be working to create a Young Garrick Rep' in the summer. Writers Groups, story-telling, Rock Concerts and a Youth Choir are featured.

Adrian wants to encourage the great talent in our schools to provide an evening venue for them to encourage them as the theatre's future clientele.

The various spaces are being better used, with the Jazz Bar (free Commuter Jazz - Fridays 5-7 p.m.) Workshops etc, Friends' Evenings and Press Nights are also planned. The Green Room Bar is more welcoming and Adrian is hoping to provide outside seating and parasols this Summer. Champagne and Black Tie evenings are also planned.

He described the Garrick's architecture as `hideous' and that the perception of a theatre should start in the street, something he is working on both inside and out. He described the auditorium, however, as `splendid', very intimate and `the best example of a provincial theatre of its type'. Following the very positive and optimistic presentation, Adrian responded to questions on the theatre's relationship with the Festival, Fair Trade support, Cinema for older clients, safety issues in the Studio, catering developments and the Tourist Office. We went away feeling much more hopeful that the Garrick is at last becoming the venue originally intended for Lichfield.

Lorna Bushell
April 2007