Alan Russell, who died of cancer aged 78, was production manager for the Birmingham Rep when planning its new theater on Broad Street in the early 1970s. Theater project consultants had been appointed to oversee the project, and Alan joined their design team in 1971. I joined TPC two years later, and he and I quickly became close colleagues and great friends.

A theater consultant may be involved in planning a new theater or resuscitating an old one; the design of a fixed or modular theatrical space; or the design and specification of technical theater equipment. The role varies according to the relationship established with the user and with the architect. There can be problems with a publicly funded organization that is too ambitious or an artistic director with too many ideas. Support too ardently a distinguished architect who has never built a theater and you risk getting a theater space that the actor and the audience miss, despite being located in a beautiful building.

Alan had the necessary qualities in abundance: experience in show business; inexhaustible energy; knowledge of proven solutions; an inquisitive mind; and the ability to create working relationships on each project and involve colleagues from Theater Projects who had complementary qualities.

He has worked in many UK theatres, as well as arts centers in Macau and Singapore. There was an annus mirabilis – over six months into 1994, Alan and I completed our double acts on two major theatres, the new Glyndebourne and the rebuilding of every part of the Edinburgh Festival theater except the original auditorium. Both were completed on time and within budget.

After retiring in 2011, Alan became Treasurer and Secretary of the Institute of Theater Consultants. In 2018, he edited and designed a large, lavishly illustrated book featuring 112 member projects completed around the world over the previous four years.

Alan was born in Gosport, Hampshire, the son of Cyril Russell, who worked for the local authority, and Dorothy (née Eyles). He studied electrical engineering at University College London, but became distracted by student theater in his third year and decided not to graduate. He joined Birmingham Rep in 1966 as chief electrician, and a year later became production manager.

At UCL he met Jo Hart, who had traded law school for wardrobe. They married in 1968 and had two sons, Ben and Thomas, who when they were young, if asked what dad did in the theater, would answer “spannering” – not a bad description of the Alan’s talent for sorting out new theatres.

Outside of work, Alan loved sailing and good burgundy.

He is survived by Jo, Ben and two grandchildren, Anna and Joe. Thomas predeceased him.