Bert Fink is, no doubt, a most happy fella. The one-time Broadway press agent spent 26 years in the brain trust of the New York-based Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization, building a reputation as one of the most-respected and well-liked executives in the complex and sometimes contentious arena of licensing rights for musical-theater productions. After three years representing R&H in London, Fink has harkened to the sound of different music, switching to rival firm Music Theatre International.
After the turn of the year he will become chief creative officer for MTI, co-founded by The Most Happy Fella and Guys And Dolls composer-lyricist Frank Loesser and today co-owned by producer and theater-owner Cameron Mackintosh.
No more Sound Of Music; hello How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying. In addition to the Loesser catalog, MTI handles licensing to Mamma Mia!, Les Misérables and such frequently mounted classics as Fiddler On The Roof, Annie and The Music Man, along with the Stephen Sondheim catalogue and Disney Theatricals productions. But no Sound Of Music, Oklahoma! or Carousel — or, for that matter, the musicals of Irving Berlin, not to mention those of Mackintosh’s former partner Andrew Lloyd Webber, including The Phantom of The Opera and the soon-to-open School Of Rock.
Fink’s move was announced Tuesday by Drew Cohen, MTI Worldwide President and Chief Operating Officer and successor to longtime chairman Freddie Gershon. Since Mackintosh became majority shareholder, the company has been aggressively expanding into the global market, with new offices in London (MTI Europe, shared with its long-standing agent Josef Weinberger Ltd.) and Melbourne (MTI Australasia, continuing its close relationship with Hal Leonard Australia Pty Ltd). Fink will work with MTI Europe Managing Director Seán Gray and his team beginning in early 2016.
Fink said he has come to find working as an ex-pat rejuvenating: “In London there’s still something about this American art form that I get to celebrate here in Europe,” told Deadline in a telephone interview today. “The definition of ‘European market’ is somewhat fungible,” he added. “There are shows running in Russia, Turkey, Israel; you see musicals in opera houses. In Beirut, The Sound Of Music is playing in a night club.”
Said Cohen: “Bert’s world-class reputation throughout the theater community, along with his talent for connecting producers with the right shows for their stages, will benefit not only MTI but all of the authors whom we represent, and all of the customers we serve.”
Fink has spent three years in London as Senior Vice President/Europe for Rodgers & Hammerstein: An Imagem Company, after nearly a quarter-century in various posts in the New York headquarters. Prior to joining R&H, he was a broadway press agent working on, among other shows, Cats, which was co-produced on Broadway by Lloyd Webber’s Really Useful Theatre Company, Mackintosh, David Geffen and the Shubert Organization.
“As Music Theatre International expands its worldwide operations I’m delighted, on both a personal and professional level, that Bert Fink is joining our management team,” said Mackintosh. “I first met Bert in 1982 when he was working in the press office for Cats in New York. I could see from the start that he loved the musical theater and, like the show he was working on, he was a curious cat fascinated by all aspects of its production. We are all delighted that he has now decided to settle in Europe and have a new adventure with us.”