Sydney will have a new home for small-scale musical theatre and cabaret, after the not-for-profit Independent Music Theatre was chosen to run Potts Point’s Reginald Murphy Theatre.
The company, which is made up of an artistic panel of four cabaret and musical theatre specialists with extensive experience across the industry, was selected through a competitive expression of interest process in which the City of Sydney received a number of high quality submissions.
The company plans to make the former home of the Darlinghurst Theatre Company a hub for small-scale music theatre and cabaret in Sydney.
Lord Mayor Clover Moore said music theatre was a hugely popular art form, with over one million tickets sold in 2011 for the big commercial shows in Sydney.*
“While large scale productions bring great economic and cultural benefits to Sydney, we need to create opportunities for smaller music theatre and cabaret artists to encourage the development and production of new work and talent,” the Lord Mayor said.
“Many successful Broadway hits had their beginnings in small theatres Off-Broadway and Off-Off Broadway. I hope the Reginald Murphy Theatre will become the birthplace of new Australian shows that will find national and international success.
“By having the Reginald Murphy Theatre as their base, Independent Music Theatre will be able to build up a loyal audience, develop a sense of community and see their creative productions thrive.”
Independent Music Theatre (IMT) has been awarded a three-year lease under the City’s Accommodation Grants program. The company’s panel of creative partners include Luckiest Productions, Neglected Musicals, Neil Gooding Productions and Squabbalogic Independent Music Theatre.
IMT Company Director, Neil Gooding, said: “We look forward to working with the City of Sydney and the wider Sydney theatre community to create this new home for the telling of musicals.”
“This initiative will provide a cultural hub and community where artists can share resources and knowledge, nurturing their skills through exploration, creation presentation and audience development of theatrical works with a strong focus on musical theatre and cabaret.”
IMT spokesman, David Campbell, said they would present a range of musical stories from new musicals, reimagined classic murals, small-scale new work from Australia and overseas, cabaret and children’s theatre.
“This intimate venue gives audiences a chance to be up-close and personal to performers and have the opportunity to enjoy a style of musical theatre not found elsewhere in Sydney,” Mr Campbell said.
In its application, IMT gave a compelling vision for the theatre which, combined with venue management experience, and a sustainable business model and management plan, showed a strong formula for success.
Over the past five years, the group has produced over 50 productions, attracting more than 1 million people and creating countless opportunities for performers, technicians, directors and designers. They bring strong existing audiences for their work, social media skills and contacts.
Luckiest Productions, managed by David Campbell, Lisa Campbell and Richard Carroll, has produced seven national concert tours for David Campbell, as well as sell-out cabaret and live music shows, including An Evening with Meagan Mullally and Simply Barbra.
Neglected Musicals, managed by Michelle Guthrie, is a theatre initiative dedicated to presenting musical theatre that has never, or rarely, been seen in Australia, with work from past directors including Stuart Maunder and Nicholas Hammond, as well as onstage talent, such as John Diedrich and Ian Stenlake.
Neil Gooding Productions, managed by Neil Gooding, brings high quality theatrical experiences to national and international audiences, with the strong development of new Australian works suchThe Hatpin and Lovebites.
Squabbalogic Independent Theatre, managed by Jay James-Moody and Jessica Burns, provides a stage for Australia’s finest emerging and established musical theatre artists, including Rachael Beck and Michael Falzon.
Independent theatre practitioner Michael Huxley and Breast Wishes producer, Simone Parrott, have also joined the IMT collaboration.
The current residents of the theatre, Darlinghurst Theatre Company, will soon move into the newly-renovated Eternity Playhouse on Burton Street in Darlinghurst, following the City’s $7.9 million refurbishment of the heritage-listed church.
Darlinghurst Theatre Company has operated from the Potts Point centre since 2001, making the theatre on Greenknowe Avenue a popular destination for theatregoers.
A resident company specialising in musical theatre and cabaret will complement other performing arts organisations in the area, including the Griffin Theatre Company, Old Fitzroy Theatre, Cell Block Theatre and Tap Gallery, which continue to present new Australian plays and text-based theatre.
*Source: Live Performance Australia Ticket Attendance and Revenue Survey 2011.