Rules may bring curtain down on big musicals
Hit musical Les Miserables which ends tonight could be the last Broadway show to visit Hong Kong thanks to a new rule limiting runs to 90 days.
Theatre promoters claim a proposed 62 per cent increase in venue fees would also spell curtains for big productions in the territory.
Musicals destined for Hong Kong which are now under threat include the sellout shows Sunset Boulevard and Miss Saigon.
The Hong Kong Tourism Association said overseas visitors who came to see Phantom of the Opera last year spent $70 million.
But in April arts bosses voted to restrict bookings for the Cultural Centre's Grand Theatre to give local companies more access to the venue.
Ada Wong Ying-kay of the Urban Council culture select committee said: 'At the moment we're turning away one in two applications. We have to balance interests.
'The rule will allow some musicals to come to Hong Kong and leave the rest of the bookings for our own productions and festivals.' But promoters claim it is just not viable to bring a big show in for 13 weeks.
James Cundall, managing director of Lunchbox, which co-staged Les Miserables, said: 'Unless there is a compromise this means the end to big musicals.' Tim McFarlane, regional director of the Really Useful Company which brought Phantom of the Opera and Cats to Hong Kong, said: 'This is going to make a lot of productions unviable.
'You need three weeks just to put up and dismantle a large scale show. We could certainly never stage Phantom of the Opera again with this limit.
'Hong Kong is a terrific market and there's a huge demand for these productions, but we're not going to go there unless we think we can make a profit.' The Urban Council, estimated to have made $9 million from Les Miserables, is debating proposals to drop the Grand's discount rate for long runners.