VOX MUNDI – SIR STEPHEN WALEY-COHEN


I am Stephen Waley-Cohen and I have been the producer of “The Mousetrap” since 1994 now that may not seem if I am new, but I am very new in the life of the world’s longest running show which has just celebrated its sixtieth anniversary. I started my working career as a financial journalist and that turned into becoming a publisher of financial magazines. That was a very international business, and after doing quite well on that I moved on to something that was purely British and which could be more my business and not someone else’s business and I went into theater management. Some years later, nearly thirty years later I am running three theatres in the West End the Victoria Palace Theatre the Ambassadors Theatre were The Mousetrap started its life and the St Martins Theatre next door to the Ambassadors where The Mousetrap has already been for an extraordinary thirty nine years. I think its very hard to say what’s the most important thing I have done in my career. Starting Euromoney, the financial magazine, was pretty important to me at the time I did it. Moving into the theatre business was hugely important when I did it my wife tells me that my biggest single contribution is making people realise that theatre buildings and owning theatres was a real business and a proper business, and indeed is now widely recognise to be that. But I think for me, perhaps the most important single decision was to respond very positively when Peter Saunders, who had been Agatha Christie’s producer and was the first producer of The Mousetrap asked me if I would be interested in buying it from him and taking on the responsibility for it, because he wanted to retire having reached the age of eighty something. Two or three years after acquiring The Mousetrap it seemed to me that it would be only right that this very successful play should give something back and I persuaded Susan Whiddington who was then working at the Society of London Theatre to join me in creating a charity. We talked to our fellows trustees who were Lord Attenboroug, the first star of The Mousetrap Lord Willoughby De Broke, whos family owned the St Martins Theatre and Mathew Prichard, Agatha Christie’s grandson. We talked about what we should do with this charity and we decided that the one area that no foundation was working in was working with children and young people who ought to be able to go to the theatre but because of a variety of circumstances didn’t do so. So, that’s what we’ve decided to do take disadvantage young people to the very best of West End theatre. And we are, without any question the most important educational charity working in the West End supported by all the theatre owners, all the producers and indeed by the trade association The Society of London Theatre. It’s easy to forecast except the future. So, anything I say about the future has to be in that context but I do not see why The Mousetrap should ever end. It’s audience is still growing people who come have a really good time when they come so I believe that The Mousetrap in particular as well as Agatha Christie’s other plays will continue to be performed in London and around the world and will continue to give huge pleasure to tens of thousands of people every week, every month, every year. Subtitles by the Amara.org community

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