By Mark Shenton
01 Feb 2012
But if Australia's commercial theatre scene — dominated by producer John Frost (universally known as "Frostie"), who is the Cameron Mackintosh of Sydney, responsible for Annie, Dr. Zhivago and An Officer and a Gentleman — is showing some resilience, there are also problems, not least the lack of venues. Sydney only has three theatres typically open (and large enough) to stage commercial musical runs, and one of them, the Theatre Royal, is currently dark after the planned transfer of Rock of Ages from Melbourne was suddenly cancelled. The venue is now reported to be under threat of redevelopment.
But elsewhere Sydney has a thriving network of resident companies. Sydney Theatre Company get the lion's share of publicity, thanks to Blanchett and Upton at the helm (though they have recently announced their intention to step down from running it next year after six years in charge), operating out of four regular theatres. Their home space is the Wharf Theatres, comprising two studio theatres on a wharf in the bay around the corner from the Harbour Bridge; they also operate the Sydney Theatre across the street, which they also make available to external hires. They are also the resident company at Sydney Opera House's Drama Theatre.
Sydney Opera House is, of course, one of the great artistic buildings in the world, like the entire South Bank complex in London put under one roof, which is itself an architectural sculpture of world renown. As well as the Drama Theatre, there's also a flexible studio space; and it's rather wonderful that, next to the high art of Mozart and the like upstairs, the studio below it has been turned into a cabaret carnival to house a local edition of the ongoing London hit La Soiree, where Norway's Captain Frodo contorts his entire body through the heads of two tennis rackets and Croydon-born Ursula Martinez produces a red handkerchief from improbable places on her body.Continued...