Next year is Lyndon Terracini’s final season as the company’s artistic director.
The Australian Ballet will also present fewer shows than usual, after a long process of trying to fit its seasons into the Regent’s schedule. It is in negotiations with the Victorian government, seeking compensation for a projected loss of box office due to the move, which may also see subscribers drift from the company.
The Ballet has to contend with a Regent stage which is barely a third the size of the State in danceable area. The entire stage may have to be raised, so the audience can see over the orchestra pit which would have to extend into the auditorium to fit a full orchestra (meaning the Ballet can sell fewer premium seats).
The Australian Ballet executive director Libby Christie said there “couldn’t be better” collaboration from Arts Center Melbourne, which will pay for temporary modifications to the Regent to make it suitable for international-standard ballet.
“Certainly in  there won’t be as many shows as we would normally present, based on current information, but they will be seeing great shows in the Regent Theater that will be of the normal, very high standard that the Australian Ballet presents,” Christie said. “That’s absolutely something we are not going to compromise on.”
She added, “[it’s] no secret that this will create financial difficulties for The Australian Ballet, but again these are understood by government and we’re working very collaboratively”.
Although the Regent is slightly wider than the Ballet’s Sydney home at the Opera House, it is a lot less deep – meaning shows cannot be designed and choreographed to fit both.
Jason Marriner, CEO of the Marriner Group behind the Regent, Princess, Comedy and Forum theatres, said they were proud and excited to be hosting the country’s leading performing arts companies.
“It will be a great opportunity for the Ballet and the Opera to perhaps perform to a different audience,” he said. The Regent has housed ballet and opera before, though it was impossible to replicate the scale of the State Theater which was purpose- built for them.
The Regent was built in the 1920s as a picture palace, in a race with the nearby Forum to be the first and most extravagant such cinema in the city. Its rococo design was a deliberate nod to New York’s Capitol Theatre. It closed in 1970 as the TV era shrunk movie audience numbers, and in 1996 reopened as a top-tier commercial theatre. It has since hosted hit musicals such as The Lion King, Wicked, We Will Rock You and, most recently, Moulin Rouge. Hairspray will open there next week.
A state government spokesman said, “We’re continuing to work closely with Arts Center Melbourne, presenting companies, and the project team to explore alternative venues and programming while upgrading The State Theatre.”
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