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'Phantom' and 'Miss Saigon' Set for Aussie Productions

Miss Saigon and The Phantom of the Opera - both international hit musicals originally staged by Cameron Mackintosh - will receive resident productions in Australia next year, according to Variety.

Both musicals have previously played in Australia, but not for over a decade.  The Andrew Lloyd Webber/Charles Hart/Richard Stilgoe musical The Phantom of the Opera will begin at Melbourne's Princess Theatre in July.  It will also tour to Sydney, Brisbane and Auckland.  Tim McFarlane, who heads the Aussie division of Lloyd Webber's Really Useful Group, will produce Phantom with Australian producer John Frost.

Miss Saigon will begin at Her Majesty's Theater in March, and will also embark on a national tour.  The production of the Alain Boublil/Claude-Michel Schonberg/Richard Maltby Jr. musical will be produced by Louise Withers and Associates and Michael Coppel Ventures.

Both productions, to minimize expenses, will feature existing touring sets.  Miss Saigon will cost around $3 million US dollars, while Phantom will reportedly cost more than $3 million to stage.  The former musical, based upon Puccini's Madame Butterfly, concerns an ill-fated love story set during the Vietnam War.  The latter, based on Gaston Leroux' novel, follows the story of a lovely young soprano and the masked madman who is her "angel of music."

"We have a very strong belief the time is ripe to bring back dramatic musicals, something that takes us on an emotional journey.  All the other musicals of the last few years are of a lighter note," said Withers, whose Australian producing credits include the ABBA musical Mamma Mia! and the Queen musical We Will Rock You.

As previously announced, Elton John's smash London musical Billy Elliot will bow in Australia in 2008.


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