The influential Stage Entertainment has changed hands and is now fully owned by the U.S. Advance Publications Inc. After a partial sale in 2015, theatre producer Joop van den Ende still held a 40 per cent of share and CVC Capital Partners had 60 per cent. The family-run Advance Publications Inc, founded in 1922 and which owns Condé Nast magazines such as “Vogue”, “New Yorker” and “Vanity fair”, is now directing 20 “Stage Entertainment” theatres including four in Hamburg.
Hamburg – world’s third largest musical location
Joop van den Ende will remain “special advisor” to the company he founded in 1998 and which has played a major role in Hamburg’s musical scene for 20 years. Commenting on the sale, he noted: “I believe deeply in the future of musical theatre and I am firmly convinced that Advance will ensure that Stage Entertainment is at the top of this genre in the long term.” Given Hamburg’s rank as the world’s third largest musical location after New York and London, his trust counts for plenty.
Musicals as a tourist attraction
Everything began with the German premiere of “Cats” by Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber in 1986 in Hamburg. The show, produced by Friedrich Kurz, is an all-time favourite and set the musical boom in motion. Despite successes with “Phantom of the Opera” in the specially built “Neue Flora” theatre or “Starlight Express” in Bochum, Kurz filed for bankruptcy in 2002. Yet the enthusiasm for the musicals continues unabated and attracts solvent guests to Hamburg. The latest half-yearly figures by Hamburg Tourism indicate an increase of 4.6 per cent in overnight stays over the same period in 2017. And musicals contribute significantly to Hamburg’s popularity.
In addition to the Stage Entertainment theatres, the “More! Theater am Großmarkt” celebrates musicals and is staging “Flashdance” presently. The multi-functional theatre opened in 2015 in a listed hall with over 2,400 seats in Hamburg’s wholesale market. The Schmidt’s Tivoli on the Reeperbahn, for instance, offers an appropriate (musical) setting for productions such as “Heiße Ecke” or “Kiez-Diva”. And even the Hamburg State Opera has overcome initial fears of contact with musicals and staged “Titanic – The Musical” in August 2018.
FAME – next generation of musicals
The Stage School Hamburg has trained young artists far beyond the city’s borders since 1985. In 2016, it opened its own theatre, the First Stage Theater. There, prospective stage actors gain practical experience and as the theatre with almost 300 seats is also open to external artists, there is plenty of opportunity to meet professionals. Every summer, the graduates perform a musical ending three years of training in dance, singing and acting. The weeks-long performance showcases their skills before they embark on professional careers. The huge popularity of this year’s production, “FAME”, has prompted a second season. The musical will be staged until September 20, 2018. Part of “Fame’s” popularity is due in no small part to its story. The musical literally brings the dreams and passions of aspiring, young people at a performing arts school in New York to life.