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What exactly is going on at Stage Entertainment?

Last month, it was announced that Erwin van Lambaart, once brought in as heir apparent to his company Stage Entertainment by Joop van den Ende, is leaving as CCO 'to spend more time with his family'. Last week, a press release appeared in which the group reported that it had signed a so-called €75 million club deal with ABN-AMRO and ING. The two Dutch state-backed banks thus obtain a large joint interest in the company via refinancing (new mortgage, that is) a number of theatres from the property of the musical and show company set up with Joop van en Ende's capital and entrepreneurial drive.

Henk Kivits, CEO of Stage, said in the press release:

'When I took over the management of his international theatre company four years ago at Joop van den Ende's request, I saw the challenge of making the company financially independent of its owner. I am proud that we have now achieved that, thanks in part to this club deal with ING and ABN AMRO.'

It must be old journalistic suspicion, but somehow Van Lambaart's departure cannot be separated from the club deal, thus ending Joop van den Ende's financial ownership of parts of the company. Especially as Van Lambaart leaves to spend more time with his family, which is now a standing expression for people who want to conceal their real reason for (often forced) departure.

After all, he had already been "promoted" from CEO (Chief Executive Officer) to the specially created position of CCO (Chief Content Officer), which can best be described as filling the role that Van den Ende himself filled for a long time with his musicals: walking in during the last week of the set's trial construction and demanding in a high-pitched voice that the planned helicopter should be scrapped and that the accompanying storyline can be thrown in the bin. Usually making brilliant interventions, in other words.

Of course, you can only fill that position, as the main person responsible for the content of Stage Entertainment's programme, if you have the name as the founder and owner of the company, as Capo di tutti Capi, as the Marlon Brando of a family with all Robert de Niro's. And that wasn't Erwin. As Joop's deputy, with a say only in content and not in how that content was created, Van Lambaart was above all an ignorable pain in the ass for the company that now operates 35 operating companies in eight countries.

Joop and Janine van den Ende are still commissioners of Stage, but so the question is, for how long. Because now that Henk Kivits has his hands free, Stage Entertainment is surely going to make some rigorous course changes, to keep its head above water in these tough crisis years.

In the course of this year, I expect the announcement that Joop and Janine van den Ende will spend more time with their families and therefore resign from their busy work as commissioners of Stage Entertainment. Not very long after that, Stage will stop a large number of (already loss-making) musical projects to plunge into 'something with multimedia and the internet'.

And so Joop does not like that.

Wijbrand Schaap

Cultural journalist since 1996. Worked as theatre critic, columnist and reporter for Algemeen Dagblad, Utrechts Nieuwsblad, Rotterdams Dagblad, Parool and regional newspapers through Associated Press Services. Interviews for TheaterMaker, Theatererkrant Magazine, Ons Erfdeel, Boekman. Podcast maker, likes to experiment with new media. Culture Press is called the brainchild I gave birth to in 2009. Life partner of Suzanne Brink roommate of Edje, Fonzie and Rufus. Search and find me on Mastodon.View Author posts

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