Priscilla Queen of the Desert the Musical is returning to Oz
If you can't get enough of '90s Australiana, then it's a great time to be alive. In 2014, there was the diamante-studded Strictly Ballroom the Musical. Later this year, Sydney Theatre Company will bring Porpoise Spit to the stage with a musical version of Muriel's Wedding. And in January next year, Priscilla Queen of the Desert will sashay into Melbourne's Regent Theatre, then make its way to Sydney's Capitol Theatre in May, Adelaide in August and Brisbane in September. Why is it back now, you ask? The musical adaptation of Stephan Elliot's 1994 camp classic – which starred Hugo Weaving, Guy Pearce and Terence Stamp as drag queens – premiered in Sydney in 2006. Since then it has travelled the world, picking up a Tony and an Olivier award, plus a swag of other accolades, along the way. Finally, Priscilla will return to her homeland 10 years after the musical closed in Australia back in 2008, with the show's original director (and doyen of Australian theatre) Simon Phillips at the helm (who most recently directed the MTC's Macbeth). "It's a joy to be back in the driver's seat for the homecoming of this bona fide national treasure," says Simon Phillips. "Behind the sparkles, feathers and camp feel-good factor is a story that remains as relevant as it did when the film was released 20-odd years ago with a message of hope, tolerance and acceptance." Photograph: Supplied If you've never seen the film, then a) get on that ASAP; and b) slip on your best sequinned outfit
Mamma Mia! is coming to Melbourne
We knew it was coming, but the full tour details for ABBA jukebox Mamma Mia! have just been announced by producers Michael Coppel, Louise Withers & Linda Bewick – and yes, you'll have to head to Canberra this November if you want to see the premiere. Melbourne will have to wait until July 2018, when it opens at the Princess Theatre. The new Australian production will star Natalie O'Donnell (who sung lead in indie show Next to Normal at the Hayes in 2015) as mother-of-the-bride Donna, and Sarah Morrison (who was superb in the lead role of precocious teenager Lesley/Lisa in Ladies in Black) will star as Sophie. Alicia Gardiner (Offspring) will play Donna's bestie Rosie, and Jayde Westaby (Dream Lover – The Bobby Darin Musical) will play Tanya. The three potential fathers will be played by Ian Stenlake, Philip Lowe (currently starring in Big Fish at the Hayes) and Josef Ber (Savages). Stephen Mahy (Jersey Boys) will play Sophie's fiancé, Sky. Gary Young (Georgy Girl) will direct. Mamma Mia! last had an outing in Australia in 2009, and before that in 2001 (where Natalie O'Donnell played Sophie, and Alicia Gardiner played Ali). On sale dates for the Melbourne season are yet to be announced, but you can jump on the waitlist here. Check out our hit list of current and upcoming musical theatre in Melbourne.
The perpetual warfare of the Middle East inspires MTC's new Macbeth
When Simon Phillips tackled Richard III for Melbourne Theatre Company, in 2010, he was inspired by George Bush; when he took on Julius Caesar, in the ’90s, it was Thatcher’s Britain. So one shudders to think of what might inspire him to stage Shakespeare’s most brutal and bloody tragedy, Macbeth. As it happens, his Macbeth has nothing to do with contemporary America and its preposterous President. “It’s ludicrous to say that America today is like Macbeth’s Scotland,” Phillips demurs. “[America] is fucked, but it isn’t that.” Instead, Phillips turned his attention to the perpetual battlefield of the Middle East for inspiration. “I saw a fantastic photograph early on when I was conceiving this, of a whole force of army trucks and soldiers on the ground with guns – all red – and this woman, swathed in black, stopping and talking to them. It was such a potent image, somehow.” It led him to a conception of the ‘weird sisters’ as people “who are disenfranchised, un-homed. I wanted them to be against the established order, a force for chaos.” Director Simon Phillips (centre) in the rehearsal room for Macbeth Photograph: Deryk McAlpin A world of endless warfare, of a bloodlust that can never be sated, does brilliantly describe Macbeth’s Scotland, and when it came to casting the brutish Thane, Phillips wanted someone who could convincingly play a soldier. Enter Hollywood heartthrob Jai Courtney: “Have you met him? He’s massive. He’s over six foot, built like a brick
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