Vienna's Ronacher theatre, which has come back to the fold of the "Vereinigten Buehnen Wien" (United Stages of Vienna), is back in style.
At a press conference, Rudi Klausnitzer, artistic director of the VBW, presented the programme for 1997/98, which will reflect "the broad variety of entertainment that has always been the trademark of the Ronacher", Klausnitzer said.
The Ronacher, opened in 1888, has been through a lot of turbulence for the last few years. After a costly renovation, in 1992 VBW have rented it 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.
Another German producer, Wolfgang Bocksch, whose shows with magician David Copperfield still draw huge crows all around the world, has helped to fill the gap. His touring productions of West Side Story, Evita and Fame will play into 1998 when a broader variety of theatrical entertainment should attract audiences. The productions in detail (all musicals with American casts and in English):
Nov. 15 - 30: West Side Story, based on the original Broadway production.
Dec. 5 - Jan. 4: Evita. Florence Lacey will play the lead.
Jan. 9 - Feb. 8: Fame. 28-year-old Swedish director Lars Bathke, nominated for an Olivier Award, will restage his West End version.
March 14 - April 9: YUME. Viennese director and producer Andre Heller presents this Japanese show, featuring acrobats, magicians and dancers.
Mozart Orchestra (July/August), Die Fledermaus (July/August), Alvin Ailey (September/October)
Tickets: Box Office "VBW" : +43-1-588 30-313, WIEN-TICKET: +43-1-58885.
-- By Bernd Freimueller