b. Donald Arthur Rolleston Albery, 19 June 1914, London, England, d. 14 September 1988, Monte Carlo. A producer and theatre-owner, Albery came from a family steeped in theatrical history - his paternal grandfather was the playwright James Albery, and his father was Sir Bronson Albery, who founded what became the Society of West End Theatres. Donald Albery was educated in Switzerland before serving as general manager of Sadlers Wells Ballet from 1941-45. He started out as a producer in 1953, and throughout the 50s and 60s presented or co-presented several notable plays, such as The Living Room, Waiting For Godot, A Taste Of Honey and Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? His first musical production was Grab Me A Gondola in 1956, and this was followed by a mixture of smash hits and minor flops, which included Zuleika (1957), Irma La Douce (1958), Make Me An Offer (1959), Fings Ain’t Wot They Used T’Be (1960), Oliver! (1960), The Art Of Living (1960), Not To Worry (1962), Blitz! (1962), Fiorello! (1962), Oliver! (New York 1963), Instant Marriage (1964), Jorrocks (1966), Oliver! (London revival 1967), Man Of La Mancha (1968), Mandrake (1970) and Popkiss (1972). Albery also enjoyed a long-runner with the revue Beyond The Fringe in 1961. In 1962 he took over the Wyndham Group of London theatres from his father, comprising Wyndham’s, the New (later renamed the Albery) and the Criterion; Albery later also acquired the Piccadilly Theatre. Albery was knighted in 1977, and sold his Group to Associated Newspapers a year later, when he retired. His son Ian took over as manager.
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