Published: Nov 01, 2011
West End and Broadway producer Jon Bath returned to LIPA, his alma mater, to talk about theatre and a little about drumming.
That’s because Jon, who today works as head of production for leading British theatre company Fiery Angel Ltd, started his performing arts career perched behind cymbals and tom toms after graduating in 2002 from the institute’s music programme.
He was first a backing musician for pop acts and West End musicals before working on Daddy Cool. Managed by a company he eventually became general manager of, the musical presented him with a launch pad into the world of spreadsheets, contracts, chorus lines, financial backers and copyright law.
When Daddy Cool left London for Berlin, Jon, who gave a masterclass in October to students on LIPA’s BA (Hons) Music, Theatre and Entertainment Management programme, found himself becoming gradually more involved in the administrative part of the production, eventually becoming general manager of the show's production company.
Jon explained: “If you’re an organiser you’ll end up organising. The ultimate in terms of organisation is producing. As a music student, I was always the one who would organise the gigs and so on, so looking back it’s all somewhat inevitable now.”
Two years ago, after further developing his producer’s skill-set, back in London, a mutual lawyer friend introduced him to his current employer, Edward Snape, with whom he has gone on to produce shows such as The 39 Steps, The Ladykillers and Me & My Girl.
Jon said: “Edward needed someone to run the production side of the company and that’s how I ended up doing what I do now – head of production for Fiery Angel Ltd.”
He added that the position is perfect for him and that he enjoys working as part of a team instead of alone: “We have very complementary skills. Edward is very creative and entrepreneurial; I seem to naturally focus on the business and legal side of things. I’ve never had that absolute desire for it to be just me out there. I’ve always felt that No.2, standing to the right of someone, is a great place to be.”
He added that despite the new career path music is still close to his heart: "I like good theatre, don't get me wrong, but, truthfully, on my night off you’re more likely to find me in Ronnie Scott’s than in the Old Vic."
The masterclass covered the symbiotic relationship between commercial and subsidised theatre, as well as copyright, finance, marketing and other subjects.
Jon also talked about the hurdles associated with launching a new musical, the importance of not being too blinkered about your career at the expense of good business sense, and the types of characteristics that successful West End shows possess.