Revitalisation of Fitzroy Street

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By Daniel Wilson

The Alex Theatre may change the life of Fitzroy Street. That was the realisation of this Editor while chatting to Gary Abrahams who is directing the upcoming comedy Bad Jews at the new Alex Theatre.

“What Aleksander Vass has done is pretty phenomenal and really exciting for the theatre industry,” Abrahams explained.

Aleksander Vass is the Founder and Managing Director of the Alex Theatre. He has invested 1 million dollars in the refurbishment, signifying one of the largest private investments in the Arts in Victoria in recent years.

“St Kilda residents have been blunt in telling me how much they want our theatres to succeed. Now we need to get the rest of Victoria to sit up and take notice,” Vass said.

Gary Abrahams is optimistic that it will revitalise Fitzroy Street. “There has been a lot of writing lately about the decline of St Kilda and the decline of Fitzroy Street – What happened? Where did all the good shops go? etc. – and I think the Alex Theatre will play a part in revitalising all of that and bring a whole new audience to the area.”

“It’s going to have a huge effect on the restaurants in the area, people coming for pre-theatre dinners or staying for drinks at one of the bars after seeing the show. I think it is going to have a huge impact on the area.”

Like many of us, Abrahams is well aware of the changes St Kilda has gone through. “It has changed so much over the past 15 years. When I first started going to St Kilda it was filled with those old European style cafes, like Cafe Scheherazade. Some of those European cake shops are still on Acland Street but the general feel of the area has shifted quite a lot. It’s a little bit more commercial. St Kilda has always been a jewel in the crown of Melbourne. So I have a lot of love for it – I really look forward to seeing Fitzroy Street being revitalised.”

Abrahams went on to explain that the Alex theatre is really competing with the big theatres in the City. “What Alex is trying to do with the theatre is create an alternative place for audience members who might not want to spend a few hundred dollars on theatre tickets but want to see something excellent, slightly challenging and also entertaining. He keeps his ticket prices really competitive – the maximum ticket price is about $50. A couple can go out and have a meal and see a show and it’s not going to break the bank.”

“It’s really exciting for me to be involved in the company and they are all great people, and I have really enjoyed working with them,” Abrahams explained. “It is a really interesting venue because on the one hand it’s a venue for hire, so independent or commercial companies can hire the space, but Alex who owns the theatre also has his own production company and they are looking at self-producing work.”

The first show was the world premiere of Sexercise the Musical. The next big show to hit the Alex Theatre is Bad Jews, a show that’s been a major hit on Broadway and the West End and is now coming to Melbourne.


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