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ANU loses much loved cabaret and food venue(s)

Teatro Vivaldi back-story, last shows, see below

by John Shortis

Teatro Vivaldi on the ANU campus has been a much-loved cabaret venue and restaurant for 14 years. During that time it has hosted significant names like Jon English, Caroline O’Connor, Simon Burke, Rhonda Burchmore, Simon Gallaher, as well as numerous student productions, local artists and companies, like us, Shortis and Simpson. We’ve done countless political satire shows there, Christmas revues, and much more.

The sad news is that the building that has housed Teatro Vivaldi is being razed to the ground, to be replaced by a health and well-being centre. So, come June 30, a chapter in Canberra’s theatrical history will come to an end.

The ANU in its wisdom is revamping the entire Union Square, so it’s goodbye not only to Teatro Vivaldi, but also to many other arts-related venues – the Gods Café with its jazz and poetry nights, the ANU Arts Centre Theatre with its music-theatre, and the ANU Bar with its rock bands. The uni says that their new venture will attract people onto campus, (which is exactly what the existing cafés, bars and restaurants have done).

From Noel Coward’s house to Canberra

The Vivaldi story began in 2001 when proprietors, Mark Santos and Anthony Hill, moved to the ACT from London where they’d run a B&B at 111 Ebury Street Belgravia, once home to British playwright/actor/songwriter Noël Coward.

The lease on the Noël Coward Hotel had expired. Anthony, in his real job as professor of synthetic organometallic chemistry, had taken up a job offer at the ANU, and to keep Mark off the streets, they bought a campus restaurant called Vivaldi’s.

Mark and Anthony, big fans of music-theatre, had shipped out their incredible collection of framed (and often signed) theatrical posters that had lined the walls of the London B&B. Along with Coward memorabilia, these posters soon found a new home on the red walls of Vivaldi’s. A stage was erected, a grand piano installed, and Teatro Vivaldi was born.

By day the restaurant has been a popular haunt for university people, (one of which, a Mr Troy, has ordered the same lunch every day for 14 years). Then by night this world of cabaret, burlesque and satire has attracted a completely different clientele.

So goodbye Teatro Vivaldi, and thank you to Mark and Anthony for their generosity, encouragement, good shows and good food. They’ll be sadly missed by performers, diners and audiences alike.

Let’s hope that the spirit of music and theatre, wining and dining, humour and friendship will permeate the new walls and that all those who will be being well at the well-being centre in the future will be reminded, even subconsciously, of what their centre once was.

ANU-Short-SimpsonShortis and Simpson are performing Curtain Call, the final season of shows ever at Teatro Vivaldi, with special guest Peter J Casey.
Thursday-Friday June 8/9/10, 7pm. 3 course dinner and show $75/$85/$95 (depending on seating). Show only, 8.30pm, $35/$45/$55.

Book 6257 2718 or
Teatro Vivaldi is on the ANU campus, North Road, Acton.

(There’s even talk of Mr Troy’s meal being on the menu.)

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