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Accountant sees IPO as the means to musical adventure

PERTH could be the launching pad for one of the world’s biggest musical ventures, if a local accountant gets his way.

Bernie Eastman is so enthusiastic about Nostradamus, the opera he has been working on for the past nine years, that he has set up a public unlisted company to raise the $1 million needed to take the project to the next stage – a CD likely to be made by ABC Classics.

To fully stage the show is expected to cost $4.7 million.

At one point, world-renowned tenor Jose Carreras had been lined up to record some of its music but a major restructure of his record label Warner Music International scratched the project.

Mr Eastman said it had always been his intention to take the show overseas and it has already had two international workshops – one in Paris and one in Vienna.

He said the plan was to raise the $1 million and then go to an initial public offering.

“However, that could all change if a major producer said he wanted to take the show on,” Mr Eastman said.

“I think if the CD is out there and working well it will be easier to make everything easier to work.”

The music from the opera was performed live in Perth last year, drawing strong interest and a standing ovation.

Both the music and the lyrics were written by Western Australians working under pseudonyms.

The composer goes by the title of Ziggy De Voight and the lyricist took the handle of Jackson B. Sutcliffe but answers to Brian Davison.

ABC Classic artist and repertoire agent Lyle Chan said the opera was a “very exciting project”.

“It’s a very progressive composition,” he said.

Mr Chan said the recording would not be a simple undertaking because it needed at least four lead characters and a chorus, which is why it needed to be funded.

Mr Eastman said the largest recent musical successes had been shows such as Phantom of the Opera and Les Miserables.

“But they are 20 years old and there haven’t been any sequels,” he said.

“They were also reliant on stagecraft and I decided that a play that relied on the music and not the stagecraft was much better.”

Mr Eastman said musicals were no more high risk than any other intellectual property-based venture.

“In fact we don’t even have to spend any more money to get approval from regulatory authorities such as the Food and Drug Administration to get our product approved,” he said.

“The lifetime of a musical is huge. Look at My Fair Lady. They keep reinventing them and bringing them back.”

Mr Eastman said he hoped to hold the first full stage production of Nostradamus in Australia before taking it overseas.

The choice of Nostradamus was deliberate because the 16th century prognosticator is one of the best known figures in history.

This venture is not Mr Eastman’s first brush with show business.

The former PricewaterhouseCoopers tax partner and managing director of credit card business Motorcharge was also a director of Barron Entertainment and Barron Features – two of the companies involved with one time movie mogul Paul Barron.

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