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Singapore ‘Miz’ widens Asian market

SYDNEY — The Singapore season of “Les Miserables” broke the $ S1 million ($ 632 ,900) gross barrier for the first time in its seventh week, encouraging the producers to believe they’ll at least break even on their first venture into Southeast Asia.

And Andrew Lloyd Webber, whose “Cats” played for seven weeks in Singapore, winding in January, clearly believes in the island’s potential. Last week, he announced plans to stage “The Phantom of the Opera” in Singapore next February.

Playing eight sessions a week at a 1,760-seat theater, “Les Miz” sold 12,200 tickets in the week ending March 20, filling the theater to 90% of capacity. Ticket prices range from $ 22 to $ 84.50, with the average at $ 52.

That lifted the seven-week B.O. total to $ 3.75 million, plus $ 1.51 million in advance sales.

Encouraged by the seventh-week milestone and the growing momentum, producer Cameron Mackintosh’s general manager in Australia, Matthew Dalco, forecasts the show will wind its 11-week run with a gross of $ 6 million-$ 6.3 million. And that would mean a slight profit on top of the production cost of $ 5 million-$ 5 .6 million, although Dalco says it’s hard to quantify the exact costs of staging a show in a new market.

“We won’t lose money, and that’s the most important thing. We went in (to Singapore) to see whether there is a market there,” said Dalco.

When the show launched in February, Mackintosh spoke of using Singapore as a springboard into Asia — if “Les Miz” managed to at least break even (Variety, Feb. 14-20). Martin McCallum, managing director of Cameron Mackintosh Ltd., told Variety he’ll need to analyze the spread of audiences — especially the mix between locals and tourists/travelers — after the musical closes before mapping the future.

“I have had this crazy dream of developing Asia for about five years,” said McCallum. “Originally I had a vision of a touring circuit where we would sit in Singapore and bring everybody in. Now I think it might be better to have Singapore and Hong Kong as the two principal markets and the base of our operations from where we could do limited seasons in places like Taiwan and Seoul that would not be viable on their own.”

McCallum predicted “Les Miz” in Singapore would end up averaging a capacity in the “high 80s.” and said it would have been close to 100% if plans by travel agents to sell package trips to groups and individuals had panned out. With the support of the Singapore tourist authorities and its Economic Development Board, he’s confident the tour groups operation will work next time. ]

McCallum hopes to nurture local partners who can develop the skills of presenting large-scale productions for the ultimate benefit of local theater communities as well as impresarios like Mackintosh and Lloyd Webber.

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