Magazine article Variety

B'way Hopefuls Go Down under before Coming Over

Magazine article Variety

B'way Hopefuls Go Down under before Coming Over

Article excerpt

SYDNEY

The stage musical version of "An Officer and a Gentleman," which opened May 19 at Sydney's Lyric Theater, reps the latest in a string of ambitious tuners hoping to use a Down Under run as a springboard to Broadway or the West End.

It's not such a crazy idea, given the international play enjoyed by Oz-originating titles such as "Priscilla, Queen of the Desert" and "Dirty Dancing."

The Gordon/Frost Organization, the company behind "Priscilla" and last year's "Dr. Zhivago" - currently playing a six-month run in South Korea before undergoing some tweaks in hopes of a Stateside berth - is teaming with U.S. producer Sharleen Cooper Cohen on "Officer." " 'Priscilla' moved straight away(to Broadway), and we are hoping for that (with 'Officer,') " Cohen says.

Not long ago an Oz-generated Broadway tuner was rare. When "The Boy From Oz" landed on Broadway in 2003, it seemed an anomaly explained in large part by the show's lead - Rialto topliner (and native Aussie) Hugh Jackman.

But then the Jacobsen Entertainment-produced tuner "Dirty Dancing" bowed in Sydney in 2004, and went on to sell out a six-month Blighty run before it even opened there; in the U.S., the show toured Chicago, Boston and Los Angeles. "Priscilla" preemed Down Under in 2006, ran in the West End and is playing Broadway's Palace Theater. Add "Zhivago" to the mix, and it's starting to look like a trend.

Cost is a major advantage for new tuners bowing in Australia "Our budget for 1An Officer and a Gentleman' is $6.3 million," says Gordon/Frost topper John Frost "If we were to (produce the show) in New York, we'd be talking $12 million-$15 million."

Frost adds that the new production also will develop out of the glare of the media spotlight, and the showbiz gossip that goes with it. The plan is for potential international partners who are interested in the titie to come to Oz to see the show, then team up with Frost and Cohen to bring it to their territories. …

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