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Capitol Theatre’s ‘Wicked’ Performance

Capitol Theatre’s ‘Wicked’ Performance
May 26, 2010

While last year's change in management of the Sydney Entertainment Centre after the collapse of the Jacobsen family's Arena Management attracted the headlines, the management transition of Sydney's Capitol Theatre has been a quieter, but equally dramatic, success.

Underpinning this has been the performance of Wicked, the Broadway and West End musical. Since opening at the Capitol Theatre in September last year, the production has broken the record for highest grossing musical at the Theatre.

The second of Arena Management's former venues, the ornate theatre came under the control of Melbourne businessman Stephen Found prior to Arena Management's administration.

Found's Foundation Entertainment Group, which had previously backed Arena Management as a minority shareholder in Capitol Theatre Management Pty Ltd, became the sole shareholder in the company in May 2009, taking on the 100-year lease for the City of Sydney-owned venue.

Found is known for having established Bytecraft Entertainment, with whom he has remained as Managing Director since selling the company to Tattersallâs in 2003 and its subsequent acquisition by Staging Connections.

Bytecraft Entertainment is a diverse lighting and superscreen service provider that specialises in the provision of theatrical, arena and event lighting and large format screens.

As of last May, the Capitol Theatre's new management team, headed by new General Manager Graeme Kearns, faced the end of the run of the theatre's then production of Guys and Dolls and the need for a new production.

The team was successful in securing Wicked, the production loosely based on the best-selling novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West and with songs and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz. The production had broken box office records around the world, holding weekly-gross-takings records in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, St. Louis, and London, prior to its arrival in Australia in 2008.

Transferring to Sydney from Melbourne, along with most of its cast, Wicked has gone on to become the Capitol Theatreâs highest grossing musical, beating other blockbusters such as The Lion King, Billy Elliot, and Miss Saigon. The production continues to delight Sydney audiences and is set to run well into the second half of 2010.

Looking to the future, Graeme Kearns explains "we are in a very buoyant time for theatrical content."

However, Kearns believes that "one of the biggest challenges facing theatre in Australia is a lack of properties in Sydney.

"Larger productions need to tour Sydney and Melbourne as a minimum to be viable and without enough Sydney venues some productions will not get here."

Kearns is placing his hopes on "concerted effortsï" being undertaken by industry players led by Live Performance Australia to resolve this issue.

One of Australia's great 'atmospheric' picture palaces, the Heritage Listed Capitol Theatre was reborn in 1995 as a lyric theatre, due partly to its excellent acoustics, after a massive reconstruction.

8th September 2009 - END OF THE ROAD FOR ARENA MANAGEMENT

3rd September 2009 - JACOBSENS DENY INSOLVENT TRADING CLAIMS: SEEKS NEW ADMINISTRATOR

14th August 2009 - JACOBSEN USED BOX OFFICE FUNDS TO PROP UP ARENA

31st July 2009 - ARENA MANAGEMENT ENTERS RECEIVERSHIP

16th June 2008 - STEPHEN ENTERS THE ARENA


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