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Arts Centre Melbourne

  • Theatre
  • Southbank
Arts Centre Melbourne hero shot
Photograph: Supplied

Time Out says

Arts Centre Melbourne is the umbrella venue that houses the Hamer Hall, Playhouse, Sidney Myer Music Bowl, State Theatre and Fairfax Studio, as well as various exhibition spaces. At the centre of the precinct is the spired building housing the State Theatre, Playhouse and Fairfax Studio.

As a general rule the venues stay open an hour after the last show of the evening so until then you can view any of the exhibitions at your leisure. The Sidney Myer Music Bowl is home to the biggest outdoor events including Carols by Candlelight, festivals and huge international acts while the State Theatre is the premiere venue for large scale productions, symphonies, ballets and all things highbrow.

If you're looking for a pre-show drink and/or meal, try The Barre, in the Theatres Building.


100 St Kilda Rd
Nearby stations: Flinders Street
Opening hours:
Mon-Fri 7.30am-8pm*; Sat 8.30am-8pm*; Sun 10am-5pm* (*or an hour after the last event)

What’s on

La Traviata

  • 4 out of 5 stars

A deathly ill courtesan and a young man fall head-over-heels in love – but money, reputation and health get in the way of their ill-fated romance. If you guessed Moulin Rouge!, you're close; this is the plot of La Traviata, a 150-year-old opera by Giuseppe Verde that went on to inspire the famed Baz Luhrmann musical. It's rarely out of circulation for Opera Australia, and as an 'old faithful' production, it's always a crowd-pleaser. But in this 2022 revival, lead soprano Stacey Alleaume wears the role of Violetta like a second skin, bringing to life the anguish, cheekiness and joie de vivre of the character.  When the curtains draw open, you'll immediately be immersed in the Belle Époque through set designer Michael Yeargan's lavish recreation of a glamorous party in a Paris salon. The stage is packed with partygoers, but it's not long before all eyes are on Alleaume, whose rich, clear voice conveys Violetta's strength and resilience while battling her illness. Even if you're not familiar with La Traviata, you'll likely recognise the classic drinking song 'Brindisi', sung by Violetta's soon-to-be lover Alfredo Germont (Ho-Yoon Chung). It's made its way into countless pop culture moments, including advertisements and films like The Godfather. As Alfredo, Chung is persistent, bold and passionate – but while the tone of his singing has superb clarity, in duets with Alleaume, he's often overpowered by the sheer enormity of her voice. Regardless, the pair have strong emotional che

The Sound Inside

If you love a good character study, The Sound Inside should be your pick of the theatre season. Unfolding like a mystery novel, the story follows Ivy League student Christopher (Shiv Palekar), and professor and author Bella (Catherine McClements), as they build a friendship over the course of a few weeks – but it seems there may be more to the story than at first glance. Director Sarah Goodes said of the play: "The Sound Inside haunts you in the same way a character from a great novel does – following you around for days after, quietly waiting for you when you wake up."  "Having two actors of the calibre of Catherine McClements and Shiv Palekar promises to make it a night in the theatre you won’t forget, both dark, funny and deeply moving it’s the ultimate theatre experience – a celebration of that unique special bond of collective imagination between writer, performer and audience." The Sound Inside was nominated for six Tony Awards in 2020, including Best Play. Tickets are on sale now. For more information visit


  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Classical and opera

Opera Australia often talks about “entry-level operas” – easily digestible works with familiar melodies that make ideal experiences for the uninitiated. La Traviata, currently playing in Melbourne, is often brought up as the perfect example. It’s something you won’t hear them say about Richard Wagner’s Lohengrin, which seems a shame. It’s a fairly simple tale clearly told; it has, with the Bridal Chorus, one of the most recognisable tunes in opera; and in a major coup for Melbourne audiences, it stars the greatest tenor in the world, Jonas Kaufmann. Lohengrin comes before Wagner’s opus, his Ring Cycle, and is in many ways more accessible, relying as it does on traditional operatic structures like arias and recitative. The story of a mysterious stranger who turns up to rescue the honour of a woman wrongly accused of fratricide, it draws on medieval German myth, of knights and chivalry and holy grails. And, like most of Wagner’s work, it deals with complex universal themes in dramatically satisfying ways. These people grapple with the grandest of ideas, with love and faith, ambition and evil. The setting, in director Olivier Py’s uncompromising vision, is post-WW II Berlin, specifically the burnt-out rubble of a theatre. As Wagner’s exquisite prelude, shimmering and delicate, fills the State Theatre, the monumental face of a brutalist structure, all shattered windows and graffitied walls, slowly revolves. It’s impossible not to think of the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol,


  • Installation

There's always one totally Instagrammable art piece at every festival – and at Rising this year, Kaleidoscope is surely it.  Keith Courtney, the artist behind the popular 1000 Doors and House of Mirrors art installations, delivers a kaleidoscopic mirror maze of constantly shifting coloured lights that will transport you right into the centre of the much-loved children's toy.  The dreamy illusion is at once fascinating and disorientating, accompanied by a soundscape sung by The Australian Boys Choir and composed by Tamil Rogeon. It's definitely not one to miss at this year's festival.


  • Ballet

The Australian Ballet has been responsible for many memorable and groundbreaking productions over the years, but never before has the company undertaken such an ambitious project. Kunstkamer is a remarkable tour de force created by four of the industry’s most celebrated choreographers: Paul Lightfoot, Sol León, Marco Goecke and Crystal Pite. It was commissioned for the 60th anniversary of the Nederlands Dans Theater (widely regarded as one of the best contemporary dance companies in the world), and this Australian showing will be the first time it has been performed outside of the Netherlands.  Inspired by the 18th century cabinet of curiosities, Kunstkamer brings together diverse elements – stark movement, song, film, spoken word and 80 dancers – to form an extraordinary and fascinating piece of work, bound together by recurring motifs and characters. The music is also inspired, and features a vast array of composers, including Beethoven, Bach, Janis Joplin and Joby Talbot. The sublime choreography, which moves from the intimacy and humour of the solos and pas de deux to intricate waves of ensemble movement seamlessly, pays homage to dance theatre traditions while also exploring new frontiers of expression. Kunstkamer offers a new take on ballet, and invites you to wonder at the endless possibilities of art. It opens at Arts Centre Melbourne on June 3 for an 11-show run. For further information and to secure your tickets, head to the website.

The Picture of Dorian Gray

  • Drama

This groundbreaking, Sydney Theatre Award-winning production is coming to Melbourne as part of Rising 2022. Read on for our five-star review of the 2020 season. In recent years, the artistic director of the Sydney Theatre Company, Kip Williams, has deftly explored an intersection between the cinematic and theatrical, creating productions on the bleeding edge of stagecraft that bridge the liminal space between these two modes of storytelling. In 2016, his treatment of Strindberg’s shocking tale of lust, femininity and power, Miss Julie, was a pathfinder of sorts, trialling the technical wizardry required to fuse real-time video and live performance. In 2019, he pushed the experiment further still, with a thrilling film noir take on Brecht's anti-fascist parable The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui. Indeed, that show was so jaw-droppingly sophisticated, it seemed Williams had mined all he could from this interplay of media. However, with his audaciously complex treatment of Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, he has surpassed his own benchmark once more. Spectacularly so. Whereas in previous productions, the theatrical action was amplified or juxtaposed by filmed elements, here the cinematic aspects play a far richer part in the world-building. There is just one solitary performer on stage, Eryn Jean Norvill, who hopscotches between all 26 characters found in this gothic classic, as well as handling the third-person narration. Norvill is an actor of extraordinary skill, but b

Penn and Teller

Since the mid-1980s, Penn & Teller have been the most bankable magic double act on the planet, combining hilarious sight gags with sleight-of-hand magic and grand illusion. They've had a residency in Las Vegas since 2001 while filming TV special after TV special, and have made appearances on every series from Friends to The Simpsons.  Their latest show, Penn & Teller: Fool Us!, is an international hit, inviting comedians from all over the world to test their talents in front of these two masters. They even have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and their recent six-week Broadway run was the highest-grossing non-musical on the Great White Way. Somehow between all of that the pair manage to visit Australia every few years, and they'll be wowing audiences at the Arts Centre in June. Get tickets quickly before they disappear. 

9 to 5 the Musical

  • Musicals

Dolly Parton's stage version of hit 1980 comedy 9 to 5 is coming to Arts Centre Melbourne this July, almost two years to the day that the production was originally due to premiere. The musical features an entire score of Dolly songs, including the landmark title track '9 to 5', and follows the plot of the film pretty closely: workmates Doralee (played by Parton in the film), Violet (originally Lily Tomlin) and Judy (Jane Fonda) have been pushed to the edge by a narcissistic boss. So they hatch an elaborate plan to extract their revenge, and hilarity ensues. The book is by Patricia Resnick, who penned the film. The local version is led by a fabulous cast of musical theatre veterans and rising stars: Marina Prior plays Violet with Erin Clare as Doralee and the inimitable Casey Donovan as Judy. Caroline O'Connor plays Roz, an administrative assistant desperately in love with her boss. The show opened on Broadway in 2009 and wasn't an enormous hit. But when it was reimagined for London's West End in 2019, it became an immediate smash, scoring rave reviews and extending its run multiple times.  Originally the production was slated to open July 2020 at Her Majesty's Theatre, but will now open July 10, 2022 at Arts Centre Melbourne's State Theatre. Tickets go on sale February 11.

Fantastic Mr Fox

Do you have fond memories of reading (or maybe even watching) Fantastic Mr Fox by Roald Dahl? The children's story about a wily fox and his exploits has been turned into a visually spectacular stage show by Queensland's Shake and Stir Theatre co and it's coming to Arts Centre Melbourne. If you need a refresher, the story revolves around (fantastic) Mr Fox, who lives with his fox family and survives by mischievously stealing food from farmers Boggis, Bunce and Bean. When the three farmers have had enough of it, they hatch a plan to catch Mr Fox, only to be foiled by his craftiness.  Shake and Stir have previously brought to life Dahl book's in George's Marvellous Medicine and Revolting Rhymes and Dirty Beasts. For Fantastic Mr Fox, audiences can expect a 12-metre high set with plenty of theatrical tricks to bring to life the cheeky, comedic tale.  Fantastic Mr Fox has played to sold-out audiences around Australia; see it Arts Centre Melbourne's Playhouse from September 20 to 24, 2022.

The Phantom of the Opera

  • Musicals

We've spoken about ghosts at the Arts Centre Melbourne before, and the lights left on to keep them company. But now the greatest phantom of them all is set to haunt the performance hall. Opera Australia, in association with the Really Useful Group, are striking up the discordant organ to announce, with a caped flourish, the arrival of arguably Andrew Lloyd Webber's most famous musical. The Phantom of the Opera is coming to Arts Centre Melbourne in 2022, with West Side Story star Josh Piterman in the title role (and ghoulish half face mask). The Aussie star was  recently bringing The Music of the Night to the West End, playing the Phantom in London right up until that production was forced to shut down. The main cast is rounded out by Amy Manford as Christine and Blake Bowden as Raoul. Unbelievably, it's the first time the box office smash will grace the Arts Centre Melbourne in its 35-year history. And you can bet it's going to dazzle, right down to the fateful plunge of the centrepiece chandelier. This spectacular staging, conjured by Cameron Mackintosh, will be brought to life in Melbourne by director Laurence Connor and will show off the fabulous original costume designs of Maria Björnson.  "I am thrilled to be able to bring this exciting new production of The Phantom of the Opera to Arts Centre Melbourne with its spectacular new staging by director Laurence Connor and fabulous designs by Paul Brown and Maria Bjornson," says Mackintosh.  This is set to be one of the larges

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