Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Greetings From Sydney

Greetings From Sydney

Two nights ago, I arrived in gorgeous Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, for the first leg of my two week holiday Down Under.

Substantially easing the jet lag was simply taking a look out my hotel room window. I mean, how can you not love the view above? The Sydney Opera House is there in all its glory. Not bad, eh?

I had not anticipated the streets of this city being so incredibly packed yesterday, but it was the final day of Pope Benedict XVI's visit here for the World Youth Day, and his second to last speaking engagement was within a few mere blocks of my hotel.

But I zeroed in on that iconic Opera House, where I've previously seen two performances on earlier visits. This time, I settled for an actual tour of this fascinating facility that was originally supposed to be built in three years and less than $10 million. The actual time spent on construction would be closer to six times that number at a cost of over $200 million. Nevertheless, you just won't hear anyone here complaining about the delay and cost overruns now. If ever anything placed Sydney on the world stage, this performing arts facility was it.

Its name is a bit of a misnomer as there are currently five performance spaces in the building. Each year, the Sydney Opera House hosts over 1,700 different types of concerts, plays, circuses, competitions, musicals, and even the finale for the Australian Idol television show. The two most famous spaces include the actual Opera Hall (on the right), which seats 1,500, as well as the massive and acoustically sound Concert Hall (left) that seats 2,700.

On this visit to Sydney, I tried getting tickets for a performance of a new staging of My Fair Lady, but they're all sold out. Another option would have been seeing The 39 Steps, which enjoys its Sydney premiere here at the Opera House's small Playhouse Theatre on July 31. As much as I enjoyed the show on Broadway, I think I'll spend my time doing something else in terms of exploring and seeing friends. But if you live in Sydney, make every effort to go and see this wonderfully inspired show.

Fortunately, I have had two previous opportunities to take in performances in this wonderful entertainment center. Way back in 1992, I caught a musical revue of Cole Porter works called Swell Party at the Opera House's Playhouse Theatre, but sadly, I no longer have the playbill, so I can't tell you who was in that performance. Then in 2001, I saw a wonderful concert performance of Rodgers & Hammerstein tunes with one of Australia's favourite musical singers (I'm sorry I can't recall her name at the moment). Unfortunately, when I inquired yesterday as to whether the Opera House maintains a data base of all previous shows, I was told that they only keep information going back to 2005. For such an iconic and truly historic venue, I would have expected more.

Well, since I'd rather be outside enjoying Australia's Emerald City, I'll sign off for now. More to come from Down Under.

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

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At 22 July, 2008, Blogger Esther said...

I've gotta tell you, this post made me smile. It sounds like you're having a wonderful time and you deserve it! I'm so happy you were able to get away for a couple of weeks and make this trip. Definitely get out and explore and have a great visit with your friends. Don't worry if you can't blog every day!

I've got a very sweet picture of you and your love in front of the Sydney Opera House from your last visit to Australia. So I always think of the two of you and that breathtaking building together. And I'm glad you took the tour. I love backstage tours like that.

At 22 July, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The 39 Steps actually made its Australian debut in Melbourne earlier this year - I saw it at The Playhouse in April. Enjoy your stay in Sydney - Melbourne is waiting patiently!

At 22 July, 2008, Blogger SarahB said...

OMG! You saw Kylie Minogue singing Rodgers & Hammerstein! Wait, not Kylie? Was it Olivia Newton John? No? OMG, it must have been Dame Edna! Wow!

At 22 July, 2008, Anonymous BroadwayBaby said...

Glad you're having a good time in Australia.

I'm very curious what changes (minor as they may be) have been made in the Australian Billy Elliot vs. the London one.

At 23 July, 2008, Blogger Alicia said...

Have a great time in Sydney. I was there a few years ago and went for a balloon ride over wine country. Definitely one of my Top 10 experiences of life. :)


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