Music Theater International, the American theater licensing agency now broadening its reach with new offices this year in London and Australia, has taken the next step in its global growth with the hiring of longtime Rodgers and Hammerstein company staffer Bert Fink as the new chief creative officer of MTI Europe.
The expansion of the company — which licenses the regional, stock and amateur productions that keep musical theater titles alive (and can become a significant revenue stream for theater creatives) — rides a continuing wave that has seen the theater industry globalize in the wake of the international success of productions including “The Phantom of the Opera,” “Wicked” and “The Lion King.” With such megahit properties blazing trails in new areas of the world where musical theater hadn’t previously had much of a foothold — including Asia, Russia and the Middle East – theater producers and licensers see an opportunity to bring a wider array of stage product to these markets.
At MTI Europe, Fink (pictured above), who’ll work alongside managing director Sean Gray, will help shepherd European productions of MTI’s stable of 400-plus titles, stretching from “Guys and Dolls” and “A Little Night Music” to “Miss Saigon” and “Mamma Mia!” American exec Fink spent more than 25 years at R&H, most recently as the company’s senior vice president/Europe, a position that precipitated a move from New York to London three years ago.
Fink and MTI Europe will be tasked with expanding the reach of the company’s catalog, in part through its MTI Junior banner, which offers youth-appropriate versions of some of its properties and can help seed ongoing enthusiasm for theater in the program’s young participants.
Earlier this year, London-based producer Cameron Mackintosh (“The Phantom of the Opera,” “Les Miserables”) acquired the majority shareholding in MTI Worldwide – led by CEO Freddie Gershon and president and chief operating officer Drew Cohen – as part of the company’s more aggressive move into international markets.
Fink will official start his gig at MTI Europe in early 2016.