Hayes Theatre Co Launch

(5.30pm, Tuesday 11 February, Reg Murphy Theatre Potts Point)

Thank you, David. Hello, everyone, it's great to see you here for the launch of the Hayes Theatre.

Perhaps the theme song for tonight should be Peter Allen's Everything Old is New Again. This building, built by Sydney City Council in 1967 as a community hall, begins a new life as a home for quality musical theatre. To quote Peter Allen, you will be showing Sydney that "dreams can come true again".

It's official name is the Reginald Murphy Hall. Reg Murphy wasn't a vaudeville trouper. He is a long forgotten local alderman who managed to get the building named after him while he was still on Council.

Over the past 10 yearse, audiences and performers have known it as the Darlinghurst Theatre. Last year, the Darlinghurst Theatre Company moved to its new home, the fabulous Eternity Playhouse, a brilliant restoration of the old Baptist Tabernacle. And if you haven't been yet, I urge you to go.

As work proceeded on the Eternity Playhouse, we thought about the future of this building. Many people in the community and performing arts urged us to keep it as a theatre. In May 2011, Council endorsed my recommendation that we investigating retaining the building as a theatre and find the best management model for it.

We recognised that this building was an important part of the performing arts precinct developing on the eastern side of the City. It's also part of a larger creative arc which includes William Street, where we are hosting a number of start-up cultural companies in City-owned buildings through to Oxford Street where other City buildings are also home to a number of innovative and creative enterprises.

In March last year we received nine expressions of interest from not-for-profit cultural and creative organisations to manage and operate the theatre. After a careful process, Independent Music Theatre was selected.

To give this venue a fresh identity, they've adopted the name Hayes Theatre Co, after musical theatre legend Nancye Hayes. The name also symbolises the contribution of so many performers to Australian musical theatre.

Musical Theatre is the most collaborative of the performing arts, demanding that its practitioners pool their talents and work together. It's therefore fitting that the Hayes Theatre Co is a collaboration of Sydney's leading independent musical theatre companies, producers and creators - Squabbalogic, Luckiest Productions, Neglected Musicals, Neil Gooding Productions, Michael Huxley and Simone Perrett.

Their combined talents and experience should ensure Sydney audiences have the chance to enjoy a much wider range of musical theatre and cabaret, including new Australian musicals. It'd be great if the Hayes Theatre was the birthplace of an all Australian hit - a new musical with original songs written for it by Australians.

It will also be a place for emerging and established performers to showcase their talents in cabaret and try out new ideas. I'm pleased that the company also plans to develop a program of master classes,
workshops and other activities to help performers, composers and writers develop their skills and to enable budding thespians, students and the community to learn more about musical theatre.

So, I'd like to launch Hayes Theatre Company with some lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, who I know some of you regard as the ultimate in musical theatre:

Curtain up, light the lights
You got nothing to hit, but the heights

And I'm sure you'll be swell, you'll be great and soon have the world on a plate!

Break a leg!

Thank you.