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The Stage

The Stage
Type Online, apps and weekly newspaper
Format Web, Tabloid, Media Company, tablet
Owner(s) The Stage Media Company Limited
Publisher The Stage Media Company Limited
Editor Alistair Smith (print), Paddy Smith (online)
Founded 1 February 1880
Language English
Headquarters Stage House, 47 Bermondsey Street, London SE1 3XT
Circulation 300,000 per month (online); 10,000 per week (print)
ISSN 0038-9099

The Stage is a British weekly newspaper and website covering the entertainment industry, and particularly theatre. It was founded in 1880. It contains news, reviews, opinion, features, and recruitment advertising, mainly directed at those who work in theatre and the performing arts. More than 300,000 people consult every month, in addition to around 10,000 who view the title in print each week.


  • Early history 1
  • The Stage and Television Today 2
  • Recent history 3
  • Careers started via The Stage 4
  • Editors 5
  • Quotations 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8

Early history

The first edition of The Stage was published (under the title The Stage Directory – a London and Provincial Theatrical Advertiser) on 1 February 1880 at a cost of 3 old pence for twelve pages. Publication was monthly until 25 March 1881, when the first weekly edition was produced. At the same time, the name was shortened to The Stage and the publication numbering restarted at number 1.

The publication was a joint venture between founding editor Charles Lionel Carson (then aged 33) and business manager Maurice Comerford (26), and operated from offices opposite the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane.

The Stage entered a crowded market, with many other theatre titles (including The Era) in circulation. Undercutting their rivals, Carson and Comerford dropped the price of the paper to one penny and was soon the only remaining title in its field.

The newspaper has remained in family ownership. Upon the death in 1937 of Charles Carson's son Lionel, who had assumed the joint role of managing director and editor, control passed to the Comerford family. The current managing director, Hugh Comerford, is founder Maurice's great-grandson.

The Stage and Television Today

In 1959 The Stage was relaunched as The Stage and Television Today, incorporating a pull-out supplement dedicated to broadcasting news and features. Derek Hoddinott, the main paper's TV editor, became editor of the new supplement.

The name and supplement remained until 1995, when broadcasting coverage was re-incorporated into the main paper. The name on the masthead reverted to The Stage, but in 2006, the paper introduced a blog concentrating on television, named TV Today.

Recent history

From 1995, the newspaper has awarded The Stage Awards for Acting Excellence at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

In 1997, The Stage 100 was launched – the paper's annual list of the 100 most influential people involved in theatre.

In 2004, 96-year-old contributor Simon Blumenfeld was recognised by the Guinness Book of Records as the world's oldest weekly newspaper columnist.[1] The column continued until shortly before his death in 2005.[2]

The Stage Awards were launched in 2010. They are given annually and recognise outstanding organisations working in theatre and beyond in the following categories: London theatre, regional theatre, producer, school, fringe theatre, theatre building, unsung hero and international.

August 2013 The Stage launched The Stage Castings, an affordable online casting service with a unique video audition function.

Careers started via The Stage

In 1956, writer John Osborne submitted his script for Look Back in Anger in response to an advertisement by the soon-to-be-launched Royal Court Theatre.[3]

Dusty Springfield responded to an advertisement for female singers in 1958.[3]

Kenneth Branagh landed the lead role in The Billy Trilogy, in the BBC Play for Today series, after it was advertised in the paper. Ricky Tomlinson responded to an ad for United Kingdom, another Play for Today, in 1981.[3]

Writer and broadcaster Sandi Toksvig landed her first television job playing the part of Ethel in No. 73 after answering an ad in The Stage. She played the part for five years.

Television presenter Maggie Philbin won her first major role, as a co-presenter of Multi-Coloured Swap Shop, after answering an advertisement in The Stage.[4]

A number of pop groups have recruited all or some of their members through advertisements placed in the newspaper, most notably the Spice Girls in 1994,[5] Scooch in 1998 and 5ive in 1997.

Lee Mead (the actor who won BBC One talent show Any Dream Will Do to gain the lead role in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat) got his first professional job, working on a cruise ship, through a recruitment ad in the paper.[6]

Television presenter Ben Shephard auditioned for GMTV children's show Diggit following an advert in The Stage. While he did not get the part, he met Andi Peters, who subsequently hired him for the Channel 4 youth strand T4.[7]

Pixie Lott responded to an advertisement for female singers when she was 16.

The Dolly Rockers were formed after they responded to an advert in The Stage. They subsequently went on X Factor but failed to make it to the live shows. They signed a contract with Parlophone, an imprint of EMI, and have worked with hit maker Ray Hedges.

Brian Conley responded to an advertisement in The Stage after leaving Barbara Speake Stage School to become a Pontins Bluecoat, a job he successfully auditioned for.

Polka Theatre's artistic director Peter Glanville got his first theatre job after responding to an ad in The Stage as a student.


  • 1880–1901 Charles Carson
  • 1901–1904 Maurice Comerford
  • 1904–1937 Lionel Carson
  • 1937–1943 Bernard Weller
  • 1943–1952 S.R. Littlewood
  • 1952–1972 Eric Johns
  • 1972–1992 Peter Hepple
  • 1992–1994 Jeremy Jehu
  • 1994–2014 Brian Attwood
  • 2014-present Alistair Smith (print) and Paddy Smith (online)


  • "The moment you have arrived in the profession is when you realise you don't have to read The Stage" – Noël Coward (attributed)
  • "The stage would not be the stage without The Stage" – Laurence Olivier (The Stage, 25 October 1976)
  • "There's no yellow brick road that's going to lead you straight to Oz, but there are a few things you can do and one of them is look in the back of The Stage." – Ben Shephard[7]


  1. ^ "The Stage celebrates Blumenfeld's Guinness World Record". The Stage. 2004-05-21. Retrieved 2006-10-12. 
  2. ^ Brian Attwood (2005-04-18). "Simon Blumenfeld: Farewell to an old friend". The Stage. Retrieved 2006-10-12. 
  3. ^ a b c Katie Phillips (August 2006). "Good job – what to do once your Edinburgh run is over". The Essential Guide to the Fringe. The Stage. Retrieved 2006-10-12. 
  4. ^ "Classic TV – Swap Shop".  
  5. ^ The Spice Girls; Cripps, Rebecca; & Peachey, Mal (1997). Real Life: Real Spice The Official Story. London: Zone Publishers. ISBN 0-233-99299-5
  6. ^ Lee Mead interview, Midweek, broadcast on BBC Radio 4, July 11, 2007.
  7. ^ a b Mary Comerford, "Stepping up", The Stage, July 12, 2007.

External links

  • Official website
  • The Stage reviews of Internationalist Theatre productions London during the editorship of Peter Hepple
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