MLC Centre signals renewed vision for Theatre Royal

Theatre Royal Sydney


The renewal of Sydney’s MLC Centre has reached another significant milestone, with co-owners QIC and The GPT Group [ASX:GPT] having agreed terms with Ambassador Theatre Group (ATG) for a lease and the management of the Theatre Royal in Sydney.

The Theatre Royal, part of the MLC Centre and situated on King Street, is Sydney’s oldest theatrical institution and one of the city’s premier commercial theatre venues.

Situated in the heart of the CBD and with a seating capacity of more than 1100, the theatre will undergo a major refurbishment under management by ATG, providing a significant boost to the Sydney arts and cultural community and guaranteeing a promising future for one of the city’s iconic venues.

The announcement comes as the MLC Centre has made significant progress on the redevelopment of its food court and retail spaces, as part of the co-owners’ broader vision to deliver a vibrant location to shop, socialise and enjoy cultural events.

GPT Chief Investment Officer Carmel Hourigan said the MLC Centre would benefit greatly from partnering with one of the world’s top live theatre companies.

“The MLC Centre will become home to a new world class theatre, which supports our vision for the precinct as a unique and exciting place, where people gather for both business and leisure. The owners chose to work with ATG because it has a strong track record of delivering premium productions,” Ms Hourigan said.

“The announcement of a new theatre operator is another important step in the transformation of this asset.”

QIC Director, Investment Management Stuart Miller said that the agreement of terms with ATG would build upon the MLC Centre’s offer and play a big part in changing how people engage with the centre of Sydney.

“The Theatre Royal is an important part of Sydney’s history and its revival, in partnership with ATG, will complement the MLC Centre’s offer, working in harmony with our renewed dining and shopping experience,” Mr Miller said.

ATG, the world’s leading live theatre company founded by Sir Howard Panter and Rosemary Squire OBE, own and operate 40 venues and counting in the West End of London, across the UK and Broadway.  They are also an international award winning production company, as well as the world’s market leader in theatre ticketing.

ATG’s Asia Pacific operations are headquartered in Sydney and they are an active theatre producer in Australia, with recent productions including the award-winning Legally Blonde the Musical; Thriller Live; Guys and Dolls; West Side Story and the recent hit production of The Rocky Horror Show.

ATG founder Sir Howard Panter said that having produced shows in Australia for a number of years, ATG has fallen in love with the MLC Centre and the Theatre Royal and it will be working with the MLC Centre co-owners on a major refurbishment of the theatre to improve its facilities and create a premium experience for theatre patrons.

“We plan to showcase the very best of theatre from Australia and the rest of the world, placing the MLC Centre and the Theatre Royal firmly in the centre of Sydney’s theatrical life,” said Sir Howard Panter.

ATG Asia Pacific CEO Tim McFarlane said, “For ATG this heralds the dawn of its venue management operations in Asia Pacific, a region that will play a major part in our international expansion plan.”

ATG continues active discussions with other Australian venues and developments are underway for additional theatres, as well as, in Korea, Japan, Singapore and China, with new productions also earmarked for these territories.