B’way exec’s death leaves more than emotional void

The sudden death of R. Tyler Gatchell on July 1 at age 50 stunned the theater industry and left a huge gap in Gatchell & Neufeld Ltd., one of Broadway’s most enduring and respected partnerships. In the aftermath, the company is drastically altered, including realigning its relationships with the producers it has represented.

Most significant, Gatchell & Neufeld’s general management of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s shows on this side of the Atlantic, including the upcoming “Sunset Boulevard” in L.A. and “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” have been shifted to a new division of Lloyd Webber’s Really Useful Group. As a result, one of Broadway’s most ubiquitous enterprises has been halved.

General managers and producers together since 1969, Tyler Gatchell and Peter Neufeld hand-led many of the most important shows, big and small, of the last quarter-century.

The titles form a roster of world-class talent, from their first big hits, “No, No Nanette” and “Jesus Christ Superstar” in 1971, through “Annie,””Sweeney Todd,””Evita,””March of the Falsettos,””Talley’s Folly,””Cats,””Hurlyburly,””The World Goes ‘Round” and “Crazy for You,” to mentionsome of the most prominent.

Just a month after Gatchell’s death, however, the company has been drastically changed. Nina Lannan, a Gatchell & Neufeld partner for the last 14 years, has joined Really Useful in New York, where she will be vice president of a new division, the Really Useful Management Co., and general manager of Really Useful productions in North and South America.

Those shows — including current blockbuster stands of “Joseph” and “Superstar” along with “Sunset,” which begins performances in Los Angeles in November — will be overseen in-house by Lannan.

In addition, the Shubert Organization, which is the licensee of “Cats,” has asked Lannan to take over the management of that show. (The notable exception is “The Phantom of the Opera,” a co-production with Cameron Mackintosh managed by Alan Wasser.)

“It turns out that, unbeknownst to Tyler and me, Really Useful has had the desire for in-house management for a long time,” Neufeld said, “but they would never do that as long as Tyler was here.”

In truth, Really Useful’s relationship was all but exclusively with Gatchell. Neufeld insists that he has no ill feeling about losing the Really Useful shows, which will have a sizable impact on his office. He said the changes have cut the company nearly in half, from a full-time staff of 11 to the remaining six.

For the moment, Neufeld’s time is taken up primarily with getting “Annie Warbucks” to opening night off-Broadway Aug. 9 at the Variety Arts Theater, and with the Broadway and national tours of “Crazy for You,” he said his affections lie as much with off-Boadway as on.

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