Legit co. plans five new theaters

AMSTERDAM — Dodger/Stage Holding, the New York-based theatrical outfit cashing in on such productions as “Urinetown” and “Into the Woods,” has plans to build five Off Broadway theaters with a central box office at the Worldwide Plaza between 50th and 51st Street in New York City.

Dodger is 60%-owned by Dutch live entertainment company Stage Holding, whose sole owner, Joop van den Ende, tells Variety that Dodger will renovate the 55,361-square-foot former Loews Cineplex Odeon Theater.

Negotiations surrounding the renovation are still ongoing, but the opening is slated for September 2003, noted Van den Ende. Plans are for Dodger to bow five luxury theaters: two houses with 499 seats each, two with 400 seats each and another with 299 seats. A central box office joining all five houses and a posh restaurant also are planned.

The new project will increase the number of Off Broadway houses by 12%-14%, said Van den Ende. The theater complex is likely to take its tone from Van den Ende’s swank theaters in Europe, where in Holland alone Stage Holdings has two theaters and has sold 2.4 million tickets in 2001, in a territory of just 16 million people.

While Dodger, whose main partners include Michael David and Edward Strong, owns 40% of Dodger Stage Holding, Van den Ende said Dodger runs the show. “I am often in New York, but my feeling is that the American market has to be run by Americans,” he says.

Stage Holding is developing a handful of new productions, among them a new version of “Dracula” for New York. The new space will provide venues for Dodger/Stage Holding productions as well as other local productions, Van den Ende says.

After expanding to Germany last year, Stage Holding is on the verge of becoming the largest theatrical outfit in that territory. Stage Holding will open its first office in London Saturday and plans expansion into Spain, France, Italy and Eastern Europe.

With John De Mol, Van den Ende founded Dutch production outfit Endemol, whose formats such as “Big Brother” have traveled across the globe.

The multimillionaire and philanthropist, who began his life in the theater and calls it his first love, left Endemol several years ago when it was sold to Spanish media giant Telefonica.

Dodger/Stage Holding’s “42nd Street,” which last year won two Tonys, is one of the five top-selling shows on Broadway. A road version will go out across the U.S. in August.

“Urinetown” and “Into the Woods” each received 10 Tony nominations.

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