May 25, 2011
CATE Blanchett and Andrew Upton’s first two seasons at the Sydney Theatre Company have been well received and now the pair has delivered a second consecutive surplus.
At STC’s annual general meeting last night chairman David Gonski reported an operating profit for calendar year 2010 of $919,860, with funds for the company’s greening project adding a further $703,000 to the coffers just before the end of the period.
Unsurprisingly, STC’s year-end, star-charged production of Uncle Vanya with Blanchett, Richard Roxburgh, Hugo Weaving, Jacki Weaver and John Bell was the knockout performer with seven sold-out weeks in the 880-seat Sydney Theatre.
Not since Dein Perry’s Tap Dogs in 1997 has an STC season been so popular. Uncle Vanya earned $2.96 million, about $300,000 more than the previous year’s top earner, another Blanchett vehicle, A Streetcar Named Desire.
STC general manager Patrick McIntyre, who took over from Rob Brookman three months into 2010, says the surplus will help STC stabilise its financial position, which had been eroded by three successive deficits in 2006-2008.
He says a few “business improvement projects” put off last year will be undertaken this year.
The biggest box office surprise of 2010 was Stockholm, with Socratis Otto and Leeanna Walsman that toured to Brisbane and Parramatta after playing to 80 per cent houses in the Wharf 1 Theatre. “We thought it would be a loss leader that adds a bit of grit to the program,” McIntyre says.
The flip side was STC’s adaptation of the Tony award-winning musical Spring Awakening, which attracted 66 per cent houses at the 880-seat Sydney Theatre for total box office of less than $1m.
“Spring Awakening was an excellent show [but] a gamble that didn’t pay off financially,” McIntyre says.
STC’s second highest earning production was Tracy Letts’s August Osage County by Steppenwolf Theatre Company, grossing $2m.
That production earned the ire of some who thought STC should have programmed the 2009 Melbourne Theatre Company production in which former STC artistic director Robyn Nevin is said to have given one of the defining performances of her career.
Star casting of William Hurt with Nevin propelled Long Day’s Journey into Night to become STC’s third most popular production despite some tepid reviews.
Also yesterday, the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra reported a modest surplus of $31,420 after posting a deficit of more than $800,000 in 2009.