Neal trained at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. After graduation he created The Birmingham Stage Company which he launched by organising and hosting a series of live fundraising interviews titled An audience with… Alan Bennett, Dame Judi Dench, Michael Frayn, Dustin Hoffman, Sir Derek Jacobi, Jack Lemmon, Sir Ian McKellen, Prunella Scales and Sir Donald Sinden at the Young Vic and Playhouse Theatres in London. In 1990 he produced The Seagull in a co-production with The Birmingham Rep.
In 1991 he began planning the foundation of The Birmingham Stage Company as the new resident company of The Old Rep Theatre, which had been professionally dark for twenty years. In this period he organised and hosted An audience with Glenn Close and Richard Dreyfuss on Broadway and the BSC was duly launched in September 1992 with Sir Derek Jacobi and Paul Scofield as patrons, led by Neal as Actor/Manager of the company.
Since its foundation the BSC has staged over eighty productions and become one of the world’s leading producers of theatre for children and their families.
Neal continues as an actor and during the BSC’s twenty-five year history he has played Horatio in Hamlet; Gooper in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof; Danforth in The Crucible; Tom in The Glass Menagerie; Hastings in She Stoops to Conquer; Charles Fox in Speed-the-Plow; John in Oleanna; Iago in Othello; Dr Ratner in The Dice House and Hal in Proof.
He has also played Grandma in George’s Marvellous Medicine, Skellig in Skellig at The New Victory Theatre, New York; Storey in Awful Egyptians at The Sydney Opera House, and Rex in Barmy Britain at The Garrick and The Apollo.
Neal has directed the national tours of Woof!, Fantastic Mr Fox, The Jungle Book, Tom's Midnight Garden and Barmy Britain – Parts One, Two, Three and Four! at The Garrick Theatre which he co-wrote with Terry Deary. The Best of Barmy Britain performed at The Apollo Theatre and then toured Australia. More Best of Barmy Britain ran at The Garrick and then toured New Zealand.
In 2015 Neal wrote and directed five world premieres including Horrible Histories - Groovy Greeks and Incredible Invaders for a national tour; Horrible Histories - Wicked Warwick for Warwick Castle; and Gangsta Granny for a national tour which transferred to the Garrick last summer and was nominated for a Best Entertainment & Family Olivier Award. It then began a new tour ending at the Harold Pinter.
His next production was the world premiere of David Walliams' Awful Auntie which toured nationally throughout 2018. This year sees his world premiere of Tom Gates by Liz Pichon which tours the country until 2020.
For three years Neal ran the Peter Wolff Theatre Trust which awards grants to UK theatres to support the work of emerging British writers.
In 1995 Neal was made Fellow of The Birmingham Society for outstanding contribution to the quality of life in the city of Birmingham and he was shortlisted for a Creative Britons Award for his contribution to the country’s cultural and creative wealth.
In 2018 Neal was awarded an Honorary Professorship by Amity University New Delhi in recognition of the Birmingham Stage Company’s success in bringing quality theatre to children and their families throughout the world.
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