The Sydney Theatre Royal is now officially (re) Open!
For two years now, theatres around the world have gone dark, victim of a global pandemic. But the Theatre Royal’s ghost light (and of course its theatre ghosts) have been quietly and patiently sitting in the gloom for many years more.
After closing in 2016, the fate of the theatre royal has been hanging in the balance, but thankfully, with the intervention of the state government and British based theatre company Trafalgar Entertainment, the hangman’s noose has been released from the Royal’s neck, and a collective exhalation has been breathed (ghosts included).
Joint CEO of Trafalgar Entertainment Sir Howard Panter and Minister of the arts Don Harwin were on hand to cut the white opening ribbon and then lavish hope filled praise on what will hopefully be the first of a spurt of new theatres and venues opening in Sydney in the coming years. Indeed just last week, a plan was released on how Sydney could have a theatre district to rival West End or Broadway.
Hope is in the air, and we are hopeful of its realisation. Sir Howard’s optimism in reawakening the Theatre Royal is backed by a belief in the possibility of a greater Sydney scene. “Sydney is underserved by theatres compared to many cities around the world, and I think there’s a huge appetite for theatre,” he said whilst addressing press on the stage of the Royal. When asked about how many venues Sydney’s theatre scene could potentially withstand he added “at least half a dozen, within a reasonable time span, is what’s needed to get it up to any kind of standard. People say “will competition be a problem?” In truth competition is what’s driven the great theatre cities.” Let us hope that others in his position will share his belief of the possibilities of further development and bring this idea to fruition.
But life (to paraphrase Jeff Goldblum) is already finding a way, with post covid theatre already steaming back into life. The first production to crank the Theatre Royal back into action is the Alanis Morrisette musical: Jagged Little Pill. Stars Natalie Bassingthwaighte and Emily Nkomo joined the other dignitaries to cut the ribbon and then posed for photographs on the stage itself. The mid sized Royal looks to be a wonderful venue for a musical with such energy and excitement.
All in all it was wonderful to walk back into the Theatre Royal for the first time in so many years. On a personal note, I last played there in 2009 and like so many other performers have great memories of it. Chookas, I say, and may many more feet hoof upon her boards.