Vienna's Ronacher Theatre, which has been through a lot of turbulence during the nineties, may at last find some peace in January with the opening of Fame.
The Vereinigten Buehnen Wien (United Stages of Vienna) announced at a press conference in September (see Playbill On-Line news item of Sept. 30) that the reopening of the Ronacher would take place in November with a touring production of West Side Story.
However, neither the Bernstein musical nor Evita (planned for December) have made it to Vienna. Out of the three announced touring musicals, only Fame will play the Ronacher, transferring from Berlin on Jan. 9 (previews on Jan. 7 and 8).
Questioned about the cancellation of the two touring shows, VBW-spokesperson Ulli Stepan referred Playbill On-Line to German producer Wolfgang Bocksch. Bocksch, whose shows (42nd Street, Crazy for You, My Fair Lady with Richard Chamberlain as well as the David Copperfield-shows) have found favour with audiences all over Europe, was surprised that three of his shows were even announced to Viennese audiences.
"We signed a contract for Fame two weeks ago. For the other shows, we could not find an agreement. If West Side Story and Evita were announced in Vienna as being a sure thing, then that may have been a little bit premature. They were not canceled, they simply were never on. That's nothing extraordinary in show business", Bocksch told Playbill On-Line. The Ronacher-Theater has come back to the fold of the VBW only some months ago after some turbulent times. After it had undergone a costly renovation, it was rented in 1992 to German Peter Schwenkow who subsequently cooperated with the mighty Stella group, a German enterprise specialized in producing musicals (among them Phantom and Cats in Hamburg as well as Beauty in London).
A legal battle ensued, with the VBW taking the view that the lease does not allow Stella to present musicals in the Ronacher, thus draining audiences from VBW's shows like Beauty and Elisabeth.
Before the matter could be settled in court, however, Stella suffered a disastrous run with She Loves Me which played to near-empty houses for nine months. Therefore, even before the lease ended on Dec. 31, the Ronacher was returned to the VBW.
Tickets for Fame can be ordered at +43-1-588 30-313 or WIEN-TICKET +43-1-58885.
- By Bernd Freimueller