Written on the 1 May 2015 by Nick Nichols


THE stage has been set to resurrect plans for a $65.5 million live theatre complex along the Broadwater, with the proponent saying it has secured a major financial backer for the venture.

Broadwater Pacific Theatre, a company headed by theatre veteran Leonard Lee, has revealed the project could inject as much as $390 million into the Gold Coast economy and help the city become a major regional hub for the performing arts.

The complex will incorporate a new School of Music and Theatre, which Lee says will be open to "performers of a certain standard". The school is aimed at developing skills in stage management and artistic direction as well as performing.

"It will be similar to the Julliard School in New York and it will make a big difference to Queensland's performing arts scene," says Lee, who has etched out a lifelong career in the theatre with 34 operas and 23 musicals under his belt as a director.

Lee says the new Broadwater Pacific Theatre will incorporate state-of-the-art technology, including under-stage elevators and a multi-directional gantry that could allow a full-sized Jet Ranger helicopter to "land" at the apron of the stage.

"There is no theatre in Australia that has this technology and it is spellbinding what these features can deliver," says Lee.

The proposed site, located just south of Mariner's Cove, was identified last year for Broadwater Pacific Theatre by state government's major projects division.

"The site we are looking at has never been built on, and it's too small for a hotel, shopping centre or apartments," says Lee.

The theatre veteran hopes it's third time luck with the latest proposal, which he says could be built ahead of the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

The theatre plan was first mooted for Brisbane when Peter Beattie was Queensland Premier, but the project foundered when the site originally offered by the government became unavailable.

The same happened to the development in 2010 for a state-owned site just south of Sea World. That proposal was knocked back because it didn't have cruise ship terminal component, says Lee.

The much larger 2010 proposal was backed by stockbroking firm BBY, but Lee has declined to reveal who is backing the latest plan. He will only say it is a major international firm.

Lee also reveals that the financial forecasts for the project are compelling, which has driven investor interest in the development.

He also believes the project will become a tourism drawcard in itself with eight main shows a week, plus a number of other special events earmarked for the venue.

The two theatre showrooms will accommodate up to 750 and 350 banquet places respectively with shows able to operate simultaneously.

"I liken it to Bally's Casino in Las Vegas," says Lee. "We don't have a venue in Australia like this one that can be classed as an international showroom where you can have dinner and a show. The Jupiters theatre is the closest that comes to it but it doesn't serve food any more."

Lee says the project is ready to proceed once approvals are in place and he expects it will employ 280 during construction phase and 140 staff once completed.

Author: Nick Nichols





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