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Germany’s Stage expands its holdings

Company now dominates country's musical market

MUNICH — Joop van den Ende’s live entertainment group Stage Holding is taking over four theaters in Germany owned by bankrupt rival Stella Entertainment as well as Stella productions “Dance of the Vampires” and “Cats.”

Company also is bringing “Titanic” to the stage in Hamburg later this year.

Stage is now the main player in Germany’s musical market with three theaters in Hamburg, two in Stuttgart, one in Berlin and one in Essen. The takeover will be finalized July 10.

Stella, once Germany’s premiere musical producer, filed for bankruptcy in April, its second insolvency in two years.

Stage, on the other hand, is flush with cash from van den Ende, who together with John de Mol founded the hugely successful Dutch TV outfit Endemol. The one-time reality-TV and quiz show guru has focused on musical theater since the sale of Endemol to Spanish telco Telefonica two years ago.

Company’s continuing expansion in Germany has been spurred by a 40 million euro ($39.5 million) investment, $10 million of which went to renovate the Hamburg theaters the Neue Flora and Operettenhaus.

Stressing the show’s success on Broadway and in the Netherlands, Stage said it would bow the Tony Award-winning “Titanic” at the Neue Flora in December and Abba musical “Mamma Mia!” at the Operettenhaus in November.

Stage has already taken over Roman Polanski’s “Dance of the Vampires” in Stuttgart, where it will also be producing a new version of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Phantom of the Opera.”

“Cats,” enjoying a successful run in Stuttgart, will be moving to Berlin, replacing Disney’s money-losing “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” at the Theater am Potsdamer Platz.

Bart van Schriek, Stage Holding Intl.’s chief financial exec, called the takeover a “milestone in the history of this fast growing company,” adding: “We’ve secured control over the third biggest musical market in the world. New York and London are risky markets, the Netherlands are small. Traditionally, all international successes find their way into Germany, and from now on that will always be through us.”

Stage also is looking to expand into other areas, like the development of its own ticketing organization and touring productions like “De La Guarda.”

“If you do it well, Germany is without any doubt a most profitable market,” Van Schriek added.

Stage already has enjoyed sold-out successes with its productions of “Lion King” and Teutonic tale “Elisabeth.”

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