FRIEND OF THE EMPIRE: Margaret Turnbull has been named as the new president of the Friends of the Empire Theatre committee.
FRIEND OF THE EMPIRE: Margaret Turnbull has been named as the new president of the Friends of the Empire Theatre committee. Nev Madsen

Renovations can't stop thousands enjoying Empire Theatre

THE Empire Theatres has had another successful year of operation, according to its general manager Kerry Saul, securing 129,628 visitors and hosting 298 shows despite being closed for three months.

The theatre held its AGM last night in the supper room of the building, during which the chairman broke down the figures.

During the financial year the theatres' box office collected $3.1 million in ticket revenue and had an operating surplus of $46,827.

The theatres' main auditorium was closed from December to March for renovations, something Mr Saul said had an impact on overall figures.

"Our gross revenue was lower than the previous year, mind you the previous year was a record," Mr Saul said.

"We still whacked a fair few people through.

"The theatres' main renovations have been done and like I said (last night), there wasn't a single staff member in the Empire Theatre who was sitting where they were when we started the refurbishment.

"The change over the past year and the support from the staff have been fantastic."

Mr Saul said the theatres' main production, Kinky Boots, had proved a hit with audiences.

"Kinky Boots had 8000 people attend. Pirates (of Penzance) the year before only had around 4000 - so that was a great outcome for our major production," he said.

He said the theatres' outlook for this year was good.

"It would be my hope that we crack the record we had the year before," he said.

"We have Mamma Mia at the start, which is selling well and is a good kick-off, we know we have some good national acts coming at the start of next year, as well as some busy stuff this year.

"We are still doing some more refurbishments, the dressing rooms are being upgraded over Christmas thanks to council's capital allocation."

The friends of the Empire Theatre committee has also undergone changes, with a familiar face taking over from long-time president Col Muller.

Margaret Turnbull, who had previously worked for the theatre for 21 years, said she was thrilled to be named president.

"The committee always did a lot for me, so I see this as a way to pay it back," Mrs Turnbull said.
"One of my big things is I would like to involve more young people in the Empire Theatre."
Her predecessor Mr Muller has since been named a lifetime member of the theatre, a title only held by eight others.

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