Ann Pinnington obituary

·2-min read

My mother, Ann Pinnington, who has died aged 84, was a producer and artistic director who championed pub and fringe theatre. Her work in those spheres led to a number of touring productions and West End transfers, including The Winslow Boy (1983), The Jungle Book (1985) and The Seven Year Itch (1986).

Born in Beverley, East Yorkshire, she was the daughter of Marjorie (nee Simpson) and George Russell, a jockey. While attending Hull College of Commerce school she was offered a place at Rada in London, although she was persuaded by her parents not to take it up. Instead, after leaving school at 18, she trained as a nurse at Hull Royal Infirmary, but left towards the end of her course, after having worked on children’s wards.

Ann went on to work as a PA at the Vickers Armstrong engineering company before becoming a travelling sales representative for the Brody kitchen design firm and then senior regional manager at Carmen, a heated hair-roller business. During the 1960s she also earned money as a part-time model and entered various beauty queen contests, at one point becoming Miss British Rail (north of England).

She owned and ran three hairdressing salons in Hertfordshire during the late 70s and set up a small golf club manufacturing company, MGee-HASP industries. However, in her early 40s she finally decided to enter the theatre, initially working as a public relations officer for the Bristol Hippodrome then, after a short spell with the Theatre Royal in Bath, for Portman Theatrical Productions in the late 80s.

After that she moved into being a producer and artistic director, working for more than 15 years alongside Dan Crawford as co-artistic director at the King’s Head theatre in Islington, north London. In 2005 she helped to navigate the theatre through the aftermath of Dan’s death in a creative partnership with Stephanie Sinclaire, playing a crucial role in launching a fundraising campaign and reviving the theatre’s outreach activities. She was a staunch proponent of access to the arts and a firm believer that theatre buildings should be communal spaces, organising tours to schools and small arts venues.

A passionate supporter of new playwrights, in 2006 she founded Ann Pinnington Productions and produced plays at the New End theatre in Hampstead, Riverside Studios in Hammersmith, and, in central London, the Arts theatre, Trafalgar Studios and Park theatre. It was at the Park theatre that she was involved in her last show, The Rise and Fall of Little Voice (2018), which she co-produced with me and which starred her granddaughter, Rafaella Hutchinson, and me.

She is survived by her second husband, Roger Pinnington, whom she married in 1974; two daughters, me from her first marriage, to Keith Pearson, which ended in divorce, and Nikki from her second; two stepchildren, Suzanne and Andrew, from Roger’s first marriage; eight grandchildren and one great-grandchild.