Arts Q&A: Theatre producer Liam McMullan on American country singer Chris Stapleton, Bob Iger and the business side of theatre

Jenny Lee puts performers and artists on the spot about what really matters to them. This week, theatre producer Liam McMullan

Theatre producer Liam McMullan
Jenny Lee

1. When did you think about a career in theatre and what were your first steps into it?

I HAD always loved theatre and performing, but I learnt quickly I didn't want to pursue acting and was far more interested in the business side of theatre and how it works. After a gap year in Australia I studied Performing Arts, studying Music, Theatre and Entertainment Management at Liverpool Institute.

I ran a music management business with my business partner Tom during the second and third year of the course, which saw us sign deals with international companies, and got to tour the world. It was an incredible experience but also gave me the realisation that I was in the wrong business and thankfully the mandatory work placement we needed to fulfil brought me home to work with GBL Productions, who I have worked with since 2016.

I have had the pleasure of building relationships all over the UK and Ireland through working on touring productions, local productions and pantomime.

2. Best gigs you've been to?

Six60 at The Academy, Dublin, in 2014 and Chris Stapleton at 3Arena, Dublin in 2019.

3. Fantasy wedding/birthday party band?

I am a big country fan, so I'd have to say Garth Brooks.

4. The record you'd take to a desert island?

Traveller by Chris Stapleton. It fulfils everything an album needs to do. There's a saying in the music industry, "all killer, no filler", when it comes to picking your tracks for an album. Traveller is filled top to bottom with killers.

5. And the book you'd take to a desert island?

The Ride of a Lifetime by Bob Iger. I remember the first time I read this book I knew it would be a book I could read over and over again. It's filled with lessons in creative leadership from the 15 years Bob Iger spent as CEO of the Walt Disney Company.

6. Top three films?

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, The Green Mile and The Dark Knight.

7. Worst film you've seen?

Recently I watched A Christmas Miracle For Daisy on Netflix – absolutely awful. I'd love to know how these films get greenlit. The acting was brutal and it has the most obvious fake snow I've ever seen. Must have been filmed on a £10 budget.

8. Favourite authors?

Bob Iger, Sun Tzu and Richard O'Rawe.

9. Sport(s) you most enjoy and top team(s)?

Football – I've been a big Liverpool fan all my life. Going to uni there was a dream.

10. Ideal holiday destination?

Orlando, Florida for a Disney holiday, or Bora Bora in French Polynesia for a relaxing holiday.

11. Pet hates?

Lateness, people being rude and not saying 'thank-you', loud eaters and people who sit on their phone in your company.

12. What's your favourite:

Dinner? Chicken enchiladas.

Dessert? Sticky toffee pudding.

Drink? Soft drink is Sprite & alcoholic drink is Dubliner Honey Whiskey.

13. Who is your best friend and how do you know each other?

Pearse McAteer. We met at secondary school and became brothers. He lives in London now and we see each other very rarely, but when we do we just pick up where we left off.

14. Is there a God?

I know that Chris Stapleton is the god of country music.

:: Liam McMullan is currently producing the 20th anniversary run of The History of The Troubles (Accordin' to My Da) at Belfast's Grand Opera House from February 6 to 11. Book at