Les Mis is the defining moment for Invercargill musical theater

John Valjean (Dave McMeeking) with the gang of convicts from the Les Misérables production of Invercargill Musical Theater

Nicole Gourley / Supplied

John Valjean (Dave McMeeking) with the gang of convicts from the Les Misérables production of Invercargill Musical Theater

Invercargill Musical Theater is on the brink of financial collapse.

Either its fresh production of Wretched, from Friday July 9, attracts better audiences than in recent years or where bang goes the era of spectacular local productions on a large scale in the south.

After four meager years of financial loss caused by grateful crowds but too small to Sister act, fatThe spectacular, wicked arena then the staging attempt canceled by Covid last year Wretched, the stakes this season are extremely high.

“It’s up to the public to support us if they want shows of this caliber to continue,” said production manager Bernadette Gourley.

“Yes The set is not a financial success, we are unlikely to do a major production in the years to come. ”

And how long the south could languish in the state is also a grim question. Treasurer Chris O’Connor “wouldn’t like to think” of the difficulties of reestablishing the big show era in the future after a recess.

Both point out that a crucial constant in both good and bad times has been the extent to which the support of volunteers, who constitute almost all of the 47 actors on stage and the hundreds of people working off stage, and the contributions financial community funders, have made great shows even remotely possible.

Everyone raises their glass!  The villainous Thenardier (Barry Macdonald) and his harpy wife (Ruth McSoriley) with their den of debauchery in Les Misérables by Invercargill Musical Theater.

NICOLE GOURLEY PHOTOGRAPHY / Supplied

Everyone raises their glass! The villainous Thenardier (Barry Macdonald) and his harpy wife (Ruth McSoriley) with their den of debauchery in Les Misérables by Invercargill Musical Theater.

But the costs are uglier than the villains of the series.

Wretched, a high-end blockbuster renowned for its production values, opens its doors with $ 270,000 in fixed costs and a meeting that will require approximately 6,300 ticket sales to break even.

As opening night approaches, they’ve sold about half of that.

In recent years, the annual big-budget shows have drawn 5,000 or fewer people, although before that a buffer had been created by the success of hits like the one in 2013. Fat, 2014 Mom Mia! – which attracted 10,000 ticket sales – and 2015 The Phantom of the Opera .

After what O’Connor infamously referred to as the ‘horribly expensive’ 2016 production of Mary poppins , and disappointing participation rates in the following years, the buffer played.

Of each ticket price, one-third went to GST, rights holder royalties, and reservation desk fees. and only two-thirds to cover fixed costs.

“Despite the fact that we are getting a lot – a lot – of help, the production costs are high now,” O’Connor said.

Wretched was “probably a good test” to see if the spectaculars could continue.

And it is positive that, unlike in previous years, production faces less competition from outside the region. When Ed Sheeran, Fleetwood Mac and Elton John play at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin, the Southlanders are heading north en masse.

The Southlanders are no strangers to Wretched. The show turned out to be a local hit twice – first in 1994 and then in 2001.

Although the third time means there is familiarity, Gourley said the 2021 production has the double advantage of familiar qualities and refreshed looks.

“We are doing everything in our power to create an incredible show and The set is, for sure, a hit show. The only thing we can’t control is ticket sales, ”she said.

The show will take place July 9-24 at the Civic Theater in Invercargill.


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