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King’s Head story lives on

04 August, 2017 — By John Gulliver

Giris Rabinovitch. PHOTO © SAGER GROUP

I HAVE a sentimental attachment to the King’s Head pub theatre. Once in an interview with the famous mouth organist Larry Adler he regaled me with tales of Al Capone and the times he played in Chicago.

On another occasion, while taking a drink before a play by John Mortimer, his daughter Emily chatted to me about her dad and what he was like when he had been gripped with an idea for a book or a play. And then there was the director, Dan Crawford, sadly now gone, whose life revolved around the theatre, often fighting off money pressures.

Now, galloping to the theatre’s rescue is the most intriguing property developer I have ever met, Giris Rabinovitch, who announced this week a home for a new 250-seater theatre with a smaller 85-seat studio and bar – apparently capitalised with several million pounds – as part of his massive £400million Islington Square development.

Developers are usually smart-suited – Rabinovitch isn’t. When I met this property man with a bushy grey beard and a kaftan-type hat he wore a bright yellow shirt to offset his suit. He’s untypical in other ways – his grandparents had fled from pogroms in Tsarist Russia, and he spent a few years in community work in New York before going into the property business.

He reads a lot, is a theatre-goer, so it didn’t surprise me to find he was keen to help the King’s Head. When I last met him he lamented how a theatre group had pulled out of a plan to build a rehearsal studio in his development, and said: “But what can you do? They’re arty types!” There was a twinkle in his eyes.

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