Critics' choice Melbourne shows
There are few musical theatre songs that have attained the anthem status bestowed upon ‘Don’t Cry for Me Argentina’. Most composers dream of creating just one tune so universally hummable – the kind that keeps the money rolling in in the form of royalty cheques long after the composer has passed on. Andrew Lloyd Webber, who penned that earworm for his 1978 musical-cum-rock opera, Evita, is responsible for a handful of them. So it’s quite a moment when, at the start of Evita’s second act, Australia’s own Tina Arena steps forward on the balcony of the Casa Rosada as Argentina’s controversial first lady, Eva Perón, to deliver the song. The clarity and warmth of her voice is astonishing as she, along with the Opera Australia orchestra, weaves a musical tale of triumph and yearning. And, of course, it’s glorious. Wrenching. The kind of singing that makes you hold your breath, anticipating the next phrase. The stuff that musical theatre dreams are made of. Eva is declaring her love to the working-class people of Argentina, who’ve just elected her husband to power. She appears to be pouring her heart out and seducing the nation. And then, something unexpected happens. She turns away from the crowd, her whole demeanour changes – the spell of seduction is broken – and she sings nefariously to her husband: “Just listen to that, the voice of Argentina. We are adored, we are loved.” That cynicism and winking eye is a large part of the appeal of Evita, which tracks the meteoric rise o
At long last Melbourne muggles will be able to get a glimpse inside JK Rowling's Wizarding World with their own two eyes: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is headed to the Princess Theatre. After becoming the highest selling play on both Broadway and the West End, Melbourne is the third stop on the Hogwarts Express. The official opening is set for February 23, 2019, but there'll be preview performances from January 18. If you don't know a lot about the play, then here's the lowdown: it's a sequel to the series, based on a story conceived with Rowling, John Tiffany and Jack Thorne. It's presented in two parts, which you can watch on the same day or across two consecutive evenings. We won't give too much away about the plot, but audiences can expect to find the gang 19 years on from the Battle of Hogwarts. While Harry himself grapples with the troubles of his past, his son Albus deals with living in the shadow of his famous father. The play won a record-breaking nine Olivier Awards in London and six Tony Awards in New York. It's also received rave reviews from just about every major publication in both cities. Time Out New York said: "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is haunted by death and pain; it is often suspenseful and sometimes downright frightening. Yet amid the cinematic tumult and dazzle of the densely action-packed plot, Thorne and Tiffany carve out quiet scenes of intimacy and tenderness. Great care has gone into creating each moment of this state-of-the-a
“For never was there a story of more woe than this of Juliet and her Romeo.” The timeless tale of Romeo and Juliet is coming to Rippon Lea House and Gardens this March. The romance and tragedy of this classic theatrical work will come alive as the Australian Shakespeare Company celebrates the 30th anniversary of Shakespeare Under the Stars. Not only that but the beauty of Rippon Lea House and Gardens will only enhance the experience of the play as the young players recite this story of young love, the power of family, the value of friends and the futility of hate. Running from March 4 to 21, Romeo and Juliet is directed by Glenn Elston who brings the tensions between the Montague and Capulet families of Verona to Victoria. Shakespeare’s drama will tug at your heartstrings and might even coax out a tear or two as the feuding families unite only after the death of the star-crossed lovers (spoiler alert!). You can pack a picnic and bring blankets to the show or order from the menu available on-site (and online). The tickets can be bought on The Australian Shakespeare Company's website and range from $25-$110. The play will run from Monday to Thursday from 7.30pm.
Muriel moved from Porpoise Spit to the big lights of Sydney for her world premiere in November 2017 and now she's finally headed to Melbourne's Her Majesty's Theatre from March 2019, before heading back to Sydney in June. The musical was adapted for the stage by PJ Hogan, who wrote and directed the original 1994 film starring Toni Collette. It features an original, Helpmann Award-winning score by Kate Miller-Heidke and Keir Nuttall, which Time Out Sydney described as "irresistible" (seriously, we challenge you to leave without humming one of the tunes). But ABBA fans needn't worry about the prospect of an original score – the Swedish supergroup's songs and spirit are threaded through the whole show. Casting is still underway for the upcoming tour. Maggie McKenna, who played Muriel in the original Sydney production, has recently scored a role in the US tour of Dear Evan Hansen. She won't be reprising her role, but other actors are expected to return. The original production of Muriel's Wedding The Musical was produced by Sydney Theatre Company and Global Creatures, who were behind the Strictly Ballroom and King Kong musicals. We fell head over hells in love with the show when it premiered and we're willing to bet Melbourne will too. To put it simply, it's the best Australian musical to premiere in years. It's distinctively homegrown but with plenty of flair and great laughs. And it's directed by Simon Phillips, who did Priscilla, Queen of the Desert and just about every ot
Anouk van Dijk has been artistic director of Melbourne's most provocative contemporary dance company, Chunky Move, since 2012, and has led the company through some extraordinarily theatrical and challenging dance works. In 2018, she premiered a full-length dance piece that explores the uniting facets of humanity; or rather, the common ground upon which we all stand. The work is having a return season in 2019 at Malthouse for the biennial Dance Massive festival. "There is an incredible sense of instability in the world – social, political, economic and environmental, this affects us on a visceral level, and in this new full-length work, I’m exploring this and how we can stand together," van Dijk says. Described as "a choreographic game of chess where engrained rules are upturned by unexpected moves", the piece is for two dancers. Tara Jade Samaya has been with Chunky Move since 2012 and has been artistic associate at the company since 2016. Helpmann Award winner Richard Cilli has performed with many of Australia's best contemporary dance companies, including Chunky Move, Sydney Dance Company and Lucy Guerin Inc.
Even if you missed his Tony-winning musical Matilda (and more fool you if you did), even if you missed his scene-stealing turn as Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar, you know and love Tim Minchin. The Perth comedian and singer-turned-global superstar is bringing his irreverent humour to Melbourne as part of his Back tour, which he describes as "old songs, new songs, fuck you songs". And there are plenty of the latter – Minchin's version of 'I Still Call Australia Home' provided a small beacon of light during Australia's shameful marriage equality plebiscite debacle, and his 'Come Home (Cardinal Pell)' threw pointed barbs at Cardinal George Pell, now facing sex abuse charges of his own in Australia. Minchin recently sold out his one-off Dark Mofo show in 15 minutes, and tickets to this one will go quickly too. Tickets go on sale on Thursday, September 6, so get your credit card ready. You don't want to miss this one.