State of Play : State of Play - Issue 3
34 R oy Orbison once played here, as did English pop/rock band The Hollies and Australian rock royalty INXS. It is by no means an accident that 47 years since the opening of its first auditorium, Panthers Penrith continues to draw world-class entertainers. The licensed club, considered the hub of Western Sydney and the gateway to the Blue Mountains, began life in 1956 when it had just three rooms for Saturday dances and presentations, then doubled as a boys' club, which funded boxing and gymnastics. It debuted its entertainment program in the 1970s when instead of just hosting Saturday dances and presentations, the decision was made to utilise the club's 580-seat auditorium for hosting prawn nights, talent quests and regular Sunday afternoon concerts. Drawing a high number of women through its doors, while also attracting a more varied clientele, Panthers swiftly became, what they term as, the "epicentre of a shifting social scene" . "Superstars like Roy Orbison and The Hollies performed at Panthers between Sydney Shows and Australian tours, bringing people from all over Sydney, usually on a Tuesday night. Sundays were another big night, bringing Australian rock bands including Skyhooks, Sherbet, Little River Band and INXS. In the 90s, cabaret dinner shows became a drawcard, featuring [veteran entertainers such as] The Four Kinsmen and Brian Cadd," Panthers Penrith General Manager Jason Stone tells State of Play. When the board of directors agreed to construct a new club in the early 1980s, provision was made for a large theatre on the site to both satisfy demand from the community for more live performances, as well as increase the club's exposure within Australia's burgeoning entertainment sector. Born from humble beginnings, the Western Sydney-based club's purpose-built entertainment destination, the EVAN Theatre, today has a 1200-guest capacity and plays host to a diverse range of entertainment genres, incorporating cabaret, theatre, cocktail parties and concerts. Remaining true to its original tagline 'Your World of Entertainment' , the club also has numerous live entertainment zones including a 1920s-style art deco cocktail lounge, a terrace for live music, a sports bar that regularly hosts DJ acts, and a lounge bar that attracts an array of talented contemporary and old-school pianists. With an annual live entertainment budget of more than $800,000, those responsible for the club's entertainment program continue to pride themselves on the calibre of the acts presented, actively sourcing leading artists and entertainment for the Western Sydney community, Stone says. A diverse range of acts including, Boney M, Dave Hughes, The Wiggles, the Sydney Comedy Festival Showcase, Todd McKenney, James Reyne, Daryl | BEST PRACTICE | PANTHERS -- A CLASS ACT For nearly five decades the purpose-built theatre at Panthers Penrith has attracted a raft of domestic and international superstars to its stage. State of Play unlocks the secrets to its live entertainment success. "SUPERSTARS LIKE ROY ORBISON AND THE HOLLIES PERFORMED AT PANTHERS BETWEEN SYDNEY SHOWS AND AUSTRALIAN TOURS, BRINGING PEOPLE FROM ALL OVER SYDNEY."
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State of Play - Issue 4