Joop van den Ende Theaterprodukties have finally officially announced that they have signed a five-year contract with the Koninklijke Nederlandse Jaarbeurs in Utrecht, The Netherlands, to rent the current Jaarbeurscongreszaal. The auditorium is currently used as a convention center, but also occasionally houses theater productions. The deal was first made public in January 1998, when President of the company Joop van den Ende announced it in a speech to his employees.
The auditorium will be renovated this summer and is expected to open in May 1999 when it will be renamed Beatrix Theater after the ruling Queen of The Netherlands. The theatre will have a capacity of 1130 people and will house a theatre-restaurant and new foyers. Arno Meijs, the architect who was responsible for the rebuilding of the VSB Circustheater in Scheveningen, will lead the renovation.
Opening production at the Beatrix Theater will be the current Broadway hit musical Chicago. The production was scheduled to open on November 29, 1998, but the extensive rebuilding of the theatre has postponed the opening night. It is also understood that the casting of Chicago has proven to be very difficult, especially after the star of the show, Simone Kleinsma pulled out of playing the part of Roxie Hart due to pregnancy.
It is expected that Kleinsma now will be available for the production. However, her expected co-star Pia Douwes is not expected to be available, as she will recreate her role as the Austrian Empress Elisabeth in the musical of the same name which is planned to open in Dresden, Germany in the spring of 1999.
The Beatrix Theater will be the second open-end musical theatre in The Netherlands, the first being the VSB Circustheater in Scheveningen (near The Hague) which currently houses the Dutch production of Miss Saigon. --By Maxim Bezembinder
Correspondent The Netherlands/Belgium