Government keeps theatre at forefront

The Victorian Government says it will continue to support major musicals in a sure sign that Melbourne will become the theatre centre of the country, if it hasn’t already.

Wicked has become arguably the most successful musical ever staged in Melbourne with the show creating $126 million in economic activity for Victoria in just over a year.

Tourism and Major Events Minister Tim Holding said on Monday that 610,000 people attended the show with approximately 180,000 people, or almost 30 per cent, from interstate or overseas.

“The Brumby Labor Government continues to support major theatre productions which attract tourists to Victoria, generate huge economic benefits and create jobs for Victorians,” Mr Holding said.

“International blockbuster musical seasons like Wicked rank alongside major events like the Australian Open and Spring Racing Carnival.

“Like the sporting events they draw hundreds of thousands of local people and interstate and overseas visitors to Melbourne ensuring that our hotels, restaurants and taxis are busy all year.”

Wicked premiered in July 2008 and concluded in August this year. It became the longest-running theatre production ever staged at the Regent Theatre, one of Australia’s largest theatres.

Figures show New South Wales and Queensland were the strongest markets with 33 per cent coming from New South Wales and 19 per cent coming from Queensland.

Western Australia and South Australia were not far behind with 14 per cent coming from each.  New Zealand was the biggest overseas market.

Mr Holding said Melbourne continued to be the theatre and arts capital of Australia.

Wicked is part of a great theatre success story for Melbourne – our theatre district is thriving with shows such as Jersey Boys which is showing in Melbourne at the moment.

“Melbourne will also host the Australian premiere of the Broadway musical Mary Poppins next year.”

The 2009 Brand Health Survey by Roy Morgan Research identified that Melbourne continues to be ranked the number one Australian city for theatre.

Wicked Producer John Frost said the musical had wonderful support from the Victorian Government from the beginning.

“Long before it was announced that the musical would have its Australian premiere in Melbourne we had been working closely with the Victorian Government and Victorian Major Events to ensure that got off to a great start,” Mr Frost said.

“Tourism Victoria along with other partners like the City of Melbourne, too, gave us tremendous backing. They stamped Wicked as a major tourist attraction for Melbourne.”

Wicked is currently playing at the Capitol Theatre in Sydney.

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