NSW puts one over Melbourne with premiere of Matilda

Coup for the arts in NSW: The Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of Matilda The Musical. Photo: Joan MarcusIn an act the tenacious heroine of Matilda might applaud, the NSW government has secured the Australian premiere of the acclaimed musical, beating major events rival Victoria.

Premier Barry O’Farrell announced on Thursday that the Royal Shakespeare Company’s adaptation of Roald Dahl’s novel Matilda will open at the Sydney Lyric Theatre from August 2015, puncturing reports that surfaced late last year that the hit show was heading to Melbourne.

”Matilda the Musical is one of the most highly sought after musicals currently in production,” Mr O’Farrell said. ”It has wowed audiences in New York and London and I am delighted we have been able to secure this award-winning production for Sydney.

”This will help generate tens of millions of dollars in economic activity by attracting interstate and international visitors to Sydney to see the show,” he said.

The NSW Minister for Tourism, Major Events and the Arts, George Souris, said Matilda was estimated to generate more than $35 million for NSW. Fairfax Media understands it will tour to other Australian capitals.

Mr Souris expected more than 110,000 visitors to come to Sydney to see the production, a family-friendly, underdog story of a five-year-old genius with villainous parents. Tim Minchin, the Australian comedian, actor and musician who wrote the score, has previously described Matilda as ”a four-foot-two feminist icon”.

The production premiered at the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-Upon-Avon in 2010, before moving to London’s West End in 2011 where it is still playing. It has been playing on Broadway since April last year.

The London production won a record seven Olivier Awards in 2012. In New York it earned 12 Tony Award nominations last year and won four.

The announcement follows Sydney securing the premiere of Strictly Ballroom the Musical, which opens next month, ahead of Melbourne.

John Frost, the producer of Legally Blonde and Wicked, said last year that ”NSW has really upped the ante financially and the incentives are very encouraging for shows to open in Sydney”.

The Australian production will be co-produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company, Louise Withers, Michael Coppel and Michael Watt.

With Elissa Blake

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