Lean Two Productions

Lean Two's varied producing credits include DANCE FOR LIFE at Her Majesty's Theatre, a unique evening in celebration of dance for the charity Crusaid, which was also a Royal Gala held in the presence of Diana, Princess of Wales: a showcase for THE LOOK OF LOVE based on the music of Burt Bacharach, which became a BBC TV production and also a musical at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego: THE CRAFT OF COMEDY starring Patricia Routledge and Peter Land at Chichester Festival Theatre: and the theatre, video and CD productions of THAT'S WHAT FRIENDS ARE FOR both in New York and London, starring Peter Land and Robert Meadmore, accompanied by Marvin Laird and Robert Scott.

NIJINSKY DEATH OF A FAUN, a compelling one man play which starred Nicholas Johnson, was performed in New York and in London at the Royal Opera House Linbury Studio Theatre, produced in association with Lean Two. This added a classical dimension to the company's expanding repertoire. 2000 also saw Lean Two produce Sheridan Morley's innovative JERMYN STREET REVIEW for the Jermyn Street Theatre, having previously established its producing association with Sheridan on the well-received NOEL & GERTIE.

Lean Two returned to the Jermyn Street Theatre with Sheridan Morley presenting NOEL COWARD TONIGHT, which comprised two of the Master's short plays - SHADOWS OF THE EVENING and RED PEPPERS. Later the same year, Lean Two joined the King's Head, Islington in producing the highly acclaimed ONE TOUCH OF VENUS, which brought Kurt Weill alive for a new generation of theatregoers.

Lean Two presented a very well received workshop of THE DANCING YEARS, but unfortunately were unable to move on to full production for reasons beyond their control.

Lean Two, Opus Arte and Threefold Music released a DVD of Gillian Lynne's ballet A SIMPLE MAN. The BAFTA award winning television production was commissioned by the BBC to make 'something' (their words) to celebrate the work of L.S. Lowry, Gillian decided to make a dance-drama. Carl Davis wrote the music, Northern Ballet Theatre performed it with Christopher Gable and Moira Shearer playing Lowry and his Mother, and Albert Finney set the piece off with an introduction to Lowry and his world. Also that year Lean Two were involved with another Workshop production based on the songbook of Leslie Bricusse.

Lean Two Productions Archive


The 25th Anniversary of the world premier of Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Phantom of the Opera will be marked with a fully staged concert that will play 3 performances at London's Royal Albert Hall on October 1st and 2nd. Featuring a 200-strong company and orchestra, it will star Ramin Karimloo and Sierra Boggess as the Phantom and Christine, who originated the same roles in Lloyd Webber's Phantom sequel Love Never Dies, and have also previously played them in Phantom in London and Las Vegas respectively.

Directed by Laurence Connor with musical staging and choreography by Gillian Lynne, the company will also include Barry James as Monsieur Firman, Gareth Snook as Monsieur Andre, Liz Robertson as Madame Giry and Wayne Evans as Piangi.



She escaped the guillotine and survived the horrors of the French Revolution. She toured the towns of Britain with her travelling wax cabinet, fighting off competition against a background of fire, shipwreck and betrayal.

She became one of the most famous names across the globe. Yet nobody knows Madame Tussaud's story. Until now: Waxing Lyrical opens as part of Madame Tussaud's 250th Birthday Celebrations in a stunning new production by the internationally renowned director and choregrapher Gillian Lynne.


Miracle in the Gorbals (1944) is a one-act ballet choreographed by Robert Helpmann to a story by Michael Benthall, with music by Arthur Bliss. The setting is the 1940s slums in the Gorbals area of Glasgow. It became a staple of the Royal Ballet, performed each season from 1944 to 1950 and receiving a revival in 1958.

The ballet was first produced by the Sadler's Wells Ballet at the Prince's Theatre in London on 26 October 1944. The choreography was by Robert Helpmann, who danced the lead role of the Stranger, and the music was conducted by Constant Lambert. The first cast included a very young Gillian Lynne. Work is now in development to revive this ground-breaking ballet before its memory is lost.


An explosion of music and words performed by Peter Land
Directed by Gillian Lynne
With Peter McCarthy at the piano
Land's career embraces many diverse and remarkable highlights, from Oh! Calcutta to the National Theatre, from The Royal Shakespeare Theatre to numerous West End musicals, taking in along the way memorable encounters with Sir Harry Secombe, Placido Domingo, Dame Peggy Ashcroft, and of course, Gillian Lynne. Including special guests... and maybe a dog!



Cats burst onto the London stage on 11 May 1981 and completely changed the face of musical history. Opening to rave reviews it went on to win a record-breaking number of awards world-wide.

The show opened on Broadway on 7 October 1982 and for a long time held the unique position of being the longest running musical in both West End and Broadway history. Cats closed on Broadway in September 2000, but continues to wow audiences around the world.


To borrow from TS Eliot: "The choreographing of CATS is a difficult matter, it isn't just one of your every day games." In this case, there had to be certain limitations and peculiarities for my choreography as one of its duties was to tell clearly the story of each song and not interpret it at will, because the book of the show must live within the songs and dances. The range necessary to satisfy the eye and the mind yet remain true to the titled characters had to be conjured up. I watched my own cats for hours and used what I saw to put a feline wash over known and accepted dance forms. I thus used them in a different way, adapting them to a style and energy that is entirely the show's own.

However, as my observation of my own cats proved to me that cats are at once aloof, hypersensual, cold, warm, completely elastic and very very mysterious, we found the goals I had set the dancers were physically daunting. This meant vigorous exercises of an unusual nature, leading eventually to total freedom of what we could attempt physically.

Of course, when a choreographer works out the numbers for a new musical, there is only a skeleton crew, which usually consists of an assistant, a boy and girl dancer, the dance captain and a pianist. It is meticulous and nerve-wracking process while you hope and pray that the ideas will come, and it is also tiring work physically, for this is the time when all the movement styles for each character have to be discovered.

Imagine the day when my small crew and I danced the whole thing for Andrew Lloyd Webber and Trevor Nunn, playing all the parts, trying to show the total excitement and mystery we were hoping to create, indicating all the acrobatic tricks which we couldn't do. A totally new concept for musical theatre, and five of us trying to be an entire production! But Andrew and Trevor embraced what we were doing wholeheartedly, a wonderful moment, and we went on to cast and rehearse a series of brilliant performers, and the rest, as they say, is history!

Phantom of the Opera

The wonderful story of the disfigured, tragic figure who haunts the Paris Opera House has been told many times since Gaston Leroux first published his novel in 1911. Most notably, Universal Pictures saw it as a vehicle for the singular talents of Lon Chaney (Snr), and then later Claude Rains depicted the Phantom as a famous composer, disfigured by acid and forced to hide in the theatre which had pirated his music. These versions depart wildly from the original novel; but Andrew Lloyd Webber and Charles Hart went back to the original for their telling of the tale, and it adheres closely to the spirit of Gaston Leroux.

In 2006 Phantom of the Opera overtook Cats as the longest running show on Broadway.


Working on PHANTOM was like returning home for me. I was lucky to grow up in one great Opera House, the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden and here we were telling a story set in another magnificent theatre, the fabled Paris Opera.

The fabric of that Opera House was composed of ordinary people like stagehands, dressers, repetiteurs and the ever willing petits rats, the corps de ballet. Over them were the fanatical ballet mistresses, the divas, the tenors and lastly, the all-powerful enigmatic mangers. These were the characters with which I staged the ballets, the great Masquerade Ball and the Managers' sextets.

The dance styles of the era were very different from those of today. Nowadays the excessively opened, arrogant backs of the Russians and high legs are de rigeur, whereas in the era of PHANTOM all the arms were carried in front of the body and the torso was tilted and pushed forward with no excessively high legs. The "hard block" pointe show of today was unknown. A version of it was just coming into being and so the petits rats darned the ends of their shoes and inserted a little wadding to help them execute the fast footwork the choreographers of their time wanted.

We tried very hard to give our audiences a flavour of the varied energies and personalities of over a hundred years ago.

Comedy of Errors

The Royal Shakespeare Company's innovative production directed by Trevor Nunn. Set in the style of a musical, Gillian created hugely comedic musical staging and choreography for a cast that featured Judi Dench, Roger Rees and Richard Griffiths.


Working with people at the RSC who are fundamentally actors and not singers or dancers does of course make a difference and it makes the rehearsal period much tougher for them and for me. However, the result has been wonderful and the joy of working on this production will be a long treasured memory.

A Simple Man

Devised, directed and choreographed by Gillian, a dramatic ballet about the life of Salford artist LS Lowry and the characters in his paintings. It was commissioned by the BBC and the City of Salford as part of the Lowry Festival in 1987. This unique production premiered on BBC TV that year, followed by stage performances at the Palace Theatre, Manchester. The ballet has enjoyed huge success and won the Huw Weldon BAFTA Award for best TV Arts Programme of 1987, and was nominated in 1988 for an International Emmy.


It started by the BBC asking me to make something for Lowry's centenary and they suggested Carl Davis to write the music. I had always wanted to work with Carl, and was also very keen to do a piece on Lowry so I agreed. When Carl and I met, we'd each of us had a bit of time to read something about Lowry, and we both said almost simultaneously, "I don't want to choose paintings and bring them to life". We knew there was tension between the mother and Lowry and that was what we wanted to build the piece on, his relationship with his mother and how the pictures were wrung out from him with no kind of parental help. I believe it is much easier to make interesting theatre where there is a kind of inbuilt tension at the core of it, a tragedy, frustration, inhibition or cruelty.

Then came the question of who would perform it. I had a long standing invitation to create a new work for the Northern Ballet Theatre, who were based in Manchester then and so the perfect opportunity was presented!


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