So the news came this week that HAIRSPRAY is closing in Sydney and considering "international options".
I thought (well, hoped) Adelaide would get this as part of an Australian tour. We aren't.
I thought (well, hoped) Adelaide would get JERSEY BOYS as part of an Australian tour. We aren't. It's decided to head to Auckland.
I thought (well, hoped) Adelaide would get DR ZHIVAGO as part of an Australian tour. We aren't.
I thought (well, hoped) Adelaide would get ROCK OF AGES as part of an Australian tour. It's currently not looking good.
I thought (well, hoped) Adelaide would get LOVE NEVER DIES as part of an Australian tour. We won't.
I thought Adelaide would get CHICAGO after an Aussie tour. We didn't.
I thought Adelaide might get any of the what seems like 50 billion other shows to take Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane by storm over the last few years. We aren't/didn't/won't.
I thought (well, hoped) WICKED might change things. I thought (hoped) PHANTOM might change things. I thought WEST SIDE STORY might change things. I thought AVENUE Q might change things. I thought the fact that Adelaide has a good Arts community might change things. But no, we either must support only our own local ventures or we simply don't have the sort of population that aren't really theatre people but will go anyway, like you would find in Melbourne or Sydney. Or the amount of tourists those cities enjoy (or not so!).
What do we have to do as a city, as a community, to attract the big names? Or even the medium names, like SHANE WARNE THE MUSICAL? John Frost is basically THE guy in Australian theatre, he's from South Australia, why won't he throw his own city a bone? Why didn't CHICAGO come here? It requires very little set (a bandstand, that I'm sure could have fitted in one of our spaces) and it would have attracted attention because of the movie, if not the fact it's a classic. I know there are huge costs involved in running a show and transferring it and they look at Adelaide's track record and probably don't think it's worth it as there is a good chance they may come out at a loss, but why can't we have short seasons between larger transfers? Give us ROCK OF AGES for two weeks between Melbourne and Brisbane, or between Brisbane and Sydney. Stick it in her Majesty's where the capacity is smaller and probably so is the rent. Someone throw us a bone!! Someone take a risk on us!
I'm not at ALL dissing the wonderful and quality theatre produced here in Adelaide, I have seen some wonderful theatre, at every level. And we have some unbelievable talent in this city too and I will continue to support it, but I am sick of having to travel interstate (or overseas) all the time and I really believe in the Arts and in a time when they are being threatened by various factors we need to do something to make people lose their negative (ignorant and uneducated most likely, due to lack of exposure) opinions about theatre. WICKED came here and broke records, why did no one capitalise on that success immediately? When people were of the opinion that theatre, and musical theatre in fact, was (no pun intended) wicked? The time to strike is over now. The State Theatre Company have been doing a good job of getting their productions out there and have been launching more aggressive advertising campaigns than I have seen for awhile, but in Adelaide you need to appeal not to the theatre folk, we're already there, you need to appeal to the non-theatre folk and without some glitz and a big name or two you're not going to get bums on seats.
The biggest cheer that happened all night during WICKED in Adelaide was when Bert Newton walked out. As a theatre person that annoyed me, I won't lie. But if people went to see 'Moonface' in person, and therefore bought a ticket and exposed themselves to quality theatre, then I'm all for it.
The Adelaide Festival Centre is a great space. Her Majesty's Theatre, while in need of an upgrade, is a good space. Not to mention we have other great theatre spaces around the city. While I didn't particularly love THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA in the Entertainment Centre, nor do I love the 'theatre' in the newly renovated Entertainment Centre, they too are spaces that can be used.
We're here. We're waiting. We can accommodate you. We may surprise you. Take a chance on us. Please?