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Hamilton a hot ticket for Adelaide: Labor

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An intense interstate battle saw Sydney secure the rights for the Australian premiere of the blockbuster Hamilton: An American Musical – and now SA Labor is urging Premier Steven Marshall to push for Adelaide to share in the expected economic windfall.

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The multi-award-winning Hamilton tells the story of Alexander Hamilton, one of the United States’ founding fathers, and it was announced yesterday it will open at Sydney’s Lyric Theatre in March 2021.

Both Sydney and Melbourne had been vying for the premiere of the musical, with Sydney reportedly securing the rights after intervention by NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian.

SA Shadow Arts Minister Jayne Stinson, who saw Hamilton: An American Musical on Broadway during a visit to New York, has urged Premier Marshall to work with local promoters and “strongly advocate to ensure SA gets to share in the $84 million economic windfall NSW is now anticipating”.

“This has won an unprecedented number of awards – Grammys, Tonys, Pulitzer Prizes – and just in the America it has had $US526 million in turnover … that’s an incredible amount of money,” she told InDaily.

It has not been revealed how much the NSW Government had to spend to secure the rights, but the ABC reports that it was enough to fend off both interstate competition and bids from other cities in the Asia-Pacific region.

Stinson said she wasn’t specifically calling on the Marshall Government to fork out money to bring the musical here.

“The first thing is to go and have a conversation about it, because as far as I’m aware there are no conversations that have gone on yet about it.

“A lot of these shows premiere in one of the big cities and then the fight is on to bring them somewhere else.

“We’ve got a really good case. We’ve got some great facilities and by 2021-22 we’re going to have even better facilities with the Festival Centre redevelopment and Her Majesty’s Theatre, so I think we should start these conversations.

“I’m not specifically calling for the Government to put money in – [but] I think you absolutely have to do those assessments.”

InDaily asked the Premier’s office this morning if he would be prepared to advocate to bring Hamilton to Adelaide. A State Government spokesperson responded by saying the Government had “every confidence in the expert team at the Adelaide Festival Centre and their experience in managing the festival program”.

“South Australia has attracted a range of high-quality productions this year, including Disney’s Aladdin and The Book of Mormon – which is great news for our state,” they added.

When questioned about Hamilton in an interview on ABC radio this morning, Treasurer Rob Lucas also praised the role of “people like [Adelaide Festival Centre CEO] Douglas Gautier and others who’ve done a magnificent job” in attracting Disney’s Aladdin to Adelaide, adding:

“They are the experts – I think why don’t we keep the politicians out of artistic endeavours and leave it to the art experts like Douglas Gautier and the Festival.  I’ve got absolute confidence in them and if it’s a good deal for South Australia I’m sure they’ll either look at it or perhaps already are looking at it.”

Stinson argues that bringing the show to Adelaide would “drive hundreds, if not thousands” of jobs in the arts, entertainment and hospitality.

She said it would also be a treat for SA audiences. As well as having an “edgy score, brilliant cast, breathtaking sets and magnificent costumes”, it explored themes such as immigration and identity that would resonate with Australians.

“It’s quite innovative in a lot of different ways so I think all those things will appeal to Australian audiences.”

The Adelaide Festival Centre did not directly answer InDaily‘s query whether any attempts had already been made to bring Hamilton to Adelaide, but Liz Hawkins, the centre’s director of programming, development and venue sales, said contracts and touring schedules for major productions took years to arrange.

Asked about the local audience’s appetite for musicals, and whether the Festival Centre currently had capacity to stage a show of Hamilton‘s scale, Hawkins said:

“Hundreds of thousands of people have visited Adelaide Festival Centre in the past year to see The Wizard of Oz, Mamma Mia, Priscilla, Aladdin and we still have The Book of Mormon and West Side Story on its way.

“Adelaide Festival Centre has capacity for the biggest touring musicals, like Matilda and Aladdin, and the redeveloped Her Majesty’s Theatre will give us another 1400 seats and state-of-the-art staging and facilities. Having two large lyric theatres and enthusiastic audiences makes Adelaide even more attractive to producers of major musicals.”

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