The Story of Autograph

Like many great stories, ours starts in London in the early ’70s.

Two sound technicians both working at the Royal Opera house, Andrew Bruce and Phil Clifford, are approached by a well-known theatre producer. He’s concerned about the quality of the sound systems available in London’s West End and commissions a report on the industry. And so, out of curiosity, Andrew and Phil dutifully took on the challenge and were promptly invited to design and rent him a sound system that worked.

Autograph Sound was born, and the stage was set to continue to provide exceptional quality sound to London theatres.

Autograph Today

Half a century later, Autograph is considered a cornerstone of the industry and the premier theatre sound design and equipment rental company in the world.

We’ve grown, we’ve evolved, but we haven’t aged. We’re just as excited about sound as we ever were, you’ll just find us in a few more places now; whilst we’re still providing sound across a majority of West End Shows, we also provide sound and audio-visual solutions globally, for corporate clients, immersive experiences, places of worship, leading educational facilities, festivals, cruise ships and more.

50 Years Later

Our natural theatrical instincts are what’s made us the go-to professionals in sound innovation. And, as one of the oldest and most experienced in the field of sound, we’ve developed a unique ear for detail and a flair for showmanship.

We’re a tight team with clear, shared expertise. Our talents have been acquired through years of experience at the Royal Opera House, the Royal National Theatre, the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Royal Exchange Manchester, the Royal Court Theatre, every other West End theatre and many regional theatres and companies. We still stay ahead and grounded in our sense of curiosity and continuing professional approach to sound production. And, recently our collective talent has taken us into electrifying new live event spaces like Secret Cinema and, most recently, Championship Football.

Our rigid philosophy of being plugged in at all times means critical systems back up and swift reactions to emergencies is a reflex that is deeply rooted in all of us. And in the next 50 years, that will not change; we’ll always be here to support you, from design to installation and long after you go live.

Our timeline

From 1971 to the present day, here are just a few of the memorable moments…

3 July 1971
First evidence of trading, whilst at Royal Opera House.
April 1972
First invoice issued, to Royal Ballet for the hire of a tape recorder.
Move into 4 All Saints Street and register Autograph Sound Recording Ltd on March 26th
22 April 1973
Phil Clifford leaves Royal Opera House and starts full time at Autograph.
May 1973
Move to 7 St Georges Mews.
May 1973
First sale, to Welsh National Opera - a bespoke cuelight and comms system.
4 July 1973
First West End play opens - Absurd Person Singular at the Criterion Theatre.
1 January 1974
Electricity could only be used for 3 consecutive days per week.
25 March 1974
Move to The Stables, Camden.
21 August 1975
First musical opens - Cloud Nine.
Phil Clifford leaves, and Julian Beech joins from National Theatre.
22 September 1980
Les Misérables opens in Paris at Palais des Sports.
11 May 1981
Cats opens at New London Theatre.
Autograph Sales is formed.
December 1983
Move to Spring Place, Kentish Town.
4 December 1985
Les Misérables opens in London at Palace Theatre.
Julian Beech leaves and Terry Jardine becomes Director.
6 April 1999
Mamma Mia! opens at Prince Edward Theatre.
19 October 1999
The Lion King opens at Lyceum Theatre.
Terry Jardine becomes Managing Director.
Duncan Bell becomes Financial Director.
27 September 2006
Wicked opens at Apollo Victoria.
3 April 2009
Warhorse opens at New London Theatre.
24 November 2011
Matilda opens at Cambridge Theatre.
27 July 2012
The Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics takes place.
Scott Arnold becomes Director.
July 2015
Autograph partners with Secret Cinema for Star Wars.
7 August 2017
Scott Arnold becomes Managing Director and Terry Jardine becomes Chairman.
21 December 2017
Hamilton opens in London at Palace Theatre.
Special Events division is formed.
12 November 2019
Secret Cinema x Casino Royale opens in Shanghai.
19 November 2019
Dear Evan Hansen opens in London at Noel Coward Theatre.
23 March 2020
Autograph closes its offices due to COVID-19.
5 October 2020
Secret Cinema x Stranger Things opens in Los Angeles.
21 May 2021
Doctor Who: Time Fracture opens.
7 August 2021
Lifesized Monopoly opens.
25 August 2021
Frozen opens at Theatre Royal Drury Lane.

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