| GEO Entertainment|
| Sydney Opera House stage dangerous|
| Updated at: 1503 PST, Wednesday, June 02, 2010|
SYDNEY: Actors who tread the boards at the Sydney Opera House do so at their peril after a report has warned that there could be "multiple fatalities" from faulty stage equipment.
An engineers report has said that ageing machinery at the performance venue needs to be urgently replaced because of "serious problems" with reliability.
The report claims that actors appearing at the Opera House are in danger of breaking far more than a leg.
The theatre's flying system, which winches actors into the air so that they can appear to fly above the stage, was deemed "non-compliant with international codes" and the report warned that any malfunction could cause "multiple fatalities".
It also cautioned that the venue's fault log had "far more incidents and disruption than one would expect".
"There is a real risk to persons on stage or being carried on the flying system from a malfunction or fault with this installation and a similar, although lesser, potential risk when people are carried on the transport elevator," the report by Marshall Day Entertech and Theatre Plan LLP found.
The release of the document comes amid reports in the Sydney Daily Telegraph that the Opera House is in such dire financial straits that it could not afford to repair the ageing infrastructure, at a cost of A$50 million (£29m) and may be forced to close.
The Opera House operators and the New South Wales state government has strongly refuted the claims, but the report has angered Australia's peak acting body.
Simon Whipp, national director of Australian Equity, said that he had asked the Opera House for a copy of the document, but had not been given one.
"We would call on the Opera House to address these concerns, " he said.
"It's very clear that the Opera House needs substantial investment from the government to bring it up to date and fix some fundamental problems."
Mr Whipp said that performers had the right to work with safe equipment in a secure environment.
"An actor walks out into the unknown, they have to have confidence in the machinery of the theatre."
A spokesman for the NSW Communities Department, which oversees the running of the Opera House, said that stage machinery was well maintained but admitted that it did need to be progressively replaced over the next decade.
"The NSW Government has spent nearly $200 million on significant improvements to the Sydney Opera House since 2002," he said.
"The NSW Government is committed to ensuring the Sydney Opera House remains one of the world's cultural and tourist hubs."
A statement released by the Opera House management said that there was "no threat of closure of any of the six internal performance venues" and "no financial crisis".
It said that performer safety was paramount and that the organisation was constantly reviewing infrastructure and operational requirements.
The Opera House was opened in 1973 after designer Jorn Utzon walked off the job in protest over plans for the building's interior and following an argument with the government over the spiralling cost of the project.