If you're a theatre fan living in Western Sydney, chances are you've become very used to making the trek into the CBD for your fix. That's not to say that there isn't a vibrant performing arts scene out west, but there's a certain scale of live performance that you can only really see in the inner city.
But a new theatre in Rooty Hill could go some way to changing that, if all goes to plan. The Western Sydney Performing Arts Centre is now just 12 months away from opening, and it's been designed to house large-scale musicals, operas, ballets and plays, alongside concerts and conferences.
It will be able to seat 2,000 audience members and features a stage that's about the same dimensions as that of the Capitol Theatre and Sydney Lyric, alongside a state-of-the-art, 80-line fly system and an orchestra pit appropriate for 30 musicians. But unlike most theatres of its size, the Western Sydney Performing Arts Centre has retractable seating, which means it'll be able to host concerts where audiences stand.
The theatre has a price tag of about $100 million, paid for largely by Rooty Hill RSL's pokies revenue. It will be connected to the club and is being built on the site of its former car park.
But the big question hanging over the venture is whether or not promoters and producers will be willing to take the plunge and head out west.
On the one hand, Western Sydney is really untested ground for major producers, despite the fact that huge audiences have been travelling east to the CBD to see the latest musicals for decades. They might be wondering whether they can conjure up the same sense of an "event" in Rooty Hill.
On the other, Sydney has a shortage of theatres of this size – the Sydney Lyric and Capitol Theatre are the only theatres appropriate for large-scale musical theatre currently in operation – and it might help producers get a tour up and running with another big theatre in the mix.
The Western Sydney Performing Arts Centre has just started taking bookings and submissions from interested producers and presenters through its website, a year out from its opening.
It's planned to open in late 2019, years ahead of the new 1,500-seat theatre planned for Ultimo.