Trafalgar Entertainment to operate Sydney’s Theatre Royal

Minister for Tourism Stuart Ayres with Trafalgar Entertainment Executive Chairman Tim McFarlane - photo by Murray HarrisLeading global live entertainment company Trafalgar Entertainment (TE) has announced its agreement with the New South Wales (NSW) Government to become the new operator of Sydney’s Theatre Royal, in a 55-year sublease.

The announcement signals the beginning of a new era for TE in Australia and points a confident way forward for the Theatre Royal which is planned to reopen in August 2021 as the cornerstone of TE’s Asia-Pacific operation.

Located within the MLC centre at the heart of Sydney’s Central Business District, the Theatre Royal is an important cultural asset for Sydney and NSW. TE is delighted to be working in partnership with the NSW Government and Dexus, owner of the landmark MLC building to enhance Sydney’s cultural landscape.

“Trafalgar Entertainment is one of the world’s leading live entertainment operators and I am thrilled they want to expand their incredible success story to NSW,” said Minister for Jobs, Investment and Tourism for NSW Government, Stuart Ayres. “Reopening the Theatre Royal will ignite our night-time economy and add vibrancy to our city – this is a very big deal for Sydney.”

City centres are evolving; the best will have a lively, rich mix of uses, day and night. This pioneering partnership will help to reinvigorate Sydney’s night-time economy, providing new jobs and making it amongst the best places to live, work and visit in the world.

Future audiences at the Theatre Royal will enjoy a venue that is a great size for audiences, performers and producers, beautifully refurbished to international standards and with a diverse programme of first-class productions. Sydney Gets it First – will be the company’s byline. TE has a strong track record of working in collaboration with the best Australian and international theatre via its unparalleled industry networks.

“In these difficult times, this is very good news for Sydney, New South Wales and for the future of live entertainment,” said Joint Group CEO’s of TE, theatre entrepreneurs Sir Howard Panter and Dame Rosemary Squire. “We would like to pay tribute to the farsightedness and confidence of the NSW Government.”

“We believe that TE has something special to offer and look forward to working alongside our new partners in this exciting enterprise. Like so many, our industry is enduring highly challenging circumstances as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, looking to the future, we believe that live entertainment and the creative industries will have a crucial part to play in recovery and renewal.”

The Theatre Royal will also act as a hub for live-streaming of theatre content and extensive community and educational engagement via TE’s subsidiaries; market-leading event cinema distributor Trafalgar Releasing and Stagecoach, the leading international provider of extra-curricular creative arts education for young people.

The Theatre Royal development will be led by Tim McFarlane, TE’s Executive Chairman Asia Pacific and Torben Brookman, Theatre Royal Sydney’s new CEO – both key figures in the Australian theatre industry.

“We look forward to bringing the Theatre Royal back to life and working with our colleagues across the live entertainment industry to host a wide range of first-class Australian and international productions,” said Tim McFarlane and Torben Brookman.

MLC Centre co-owners Dexus has begun renovation works and appointment of an operator means that interior theatre renovation can continue without delay.

“The reopening of the Theatre Royal will be a great outcome for Sydney and its night-time economy, the arts community and the theatre-going public,” said Dexus CEO, Darren Steinberg. “We welcome the announcement of a theatre operator and value the contribution from the NSW Government in assisting in the reopening the theatre.”

Trafalgar Entertainment is an active producer in Australia. They recently co-produced the National Theatre’s War Horse in Sydney and previous productions in Australia include Guys and Dolls, West Side Story, The Rocky Horror Show, Legally Blonde, Noises Off, 1984 and When I Was A Girl, I Used to Scream and Shout (with STC).

Trafalgar Entertainment will take a 55-year sublease of the theatre from the NSW Government, ensuring a long future for the venue. The upgraded theatre will retain the existing 1180 seating capacity and install improved staging, upgraded plush seating, a visually-enriched Drum foyer area, luxury bar, theatre store and sponsor facilities, as well as refurbishment of key performer areas.

Image: Minister for Tourism Stuart Ayres with Trafalgar Entertainment Executive Chairman Tim McFarlane – photo by Murray Harris