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Moulin Rouge! The Musical
Photograph: Michelle Grace HunderRyan Gonzalez (Santiago) and Samantha Dodemaide (Nini)

Melbourne theatre and musicals this month

From major musicals to Shakespeare and cabaret, here are the shows not to miss this month in Melbourne

Nicola Dowse
Written by
Nicola Dowse
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Theatre and live performance is well and truly back in Melbourne, with the increasingly balmy summer evenings perfect for a night out. The city's theatre, comedy and music industries have bounced back with aplomb, with a number of outstanding shows making the rounds this month. 

The five-star spectacular that is Moulin Rouge! The Musical is of course the show on everyone's lips (it's not a bad idea to buy tickets as a Christmas gift either) but MTC's golden production of As You Like It should also be on your radar, as well as Ash Flander's new disaster movie-meets-cabaret performance, S.S. Metaphor. Want music? The MSO is celebrating a return to relative normality with its Performance of a Lifetime outdoor concert at Sidney Myer.

RECOMMENDED: The best art exhibitions in Melbourne this month.

Melbourne's best shows in December

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Theatre
  • Musicals
  • Melbourne

Moulin Rouge! The Musical is every bit the “spectacular spectacular” fans have waited for, bursting onto the stage with the same visual splendour and captivating music that made Baz Luhrmann’s film such a hit. Make no mistake, the audience is attending the Moulin Rouge, not the Regent Theatre, with the set spilling out from the stage, conjuring the famous French nightclub in the heart of Melbourne. Performers spill out from the stage too, and it’s well worth taking your seat before showtime to watch as the ensemble slowly, deliberately loll about and casual stun with physical feats. The easy, graceful tempo is a ruse, however, because as soon as the curtain goes up, Moulin Rouge comes at you with guns blazing.

 

  • Theatre
  • Comedy
  • Southbank

In what might be the world's first "disaster-movie-allegorical-farce-cabaret", Flanders takes audiences aboard the S.S. Metaphor in what he describes as "a glittering ode to freedom, adventure and endless possibility." The production also stars Zenya Carmellotti, Will Conyers and Natalie Gamsu, with direction from Sarah Giles (Blaque ShowgirlsThe Truth).

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  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Theatre
  • Southbank

Although it was originally slated to premiere in late 2020, it feels entirely appropriate that As You Like It, Shakespeare’s buoyant romantic comedy, should be the production to reopen Melbourne Theatre Company post lockdown. With a visually luscious set, earnest performances and a score of uplifting Shakespearean folk-pop from Kate Miller-Heidke and Keir Nuttall, Simon Phillips' As You Like It feels like theatre’s warm, golden dawn after a stormy grey winter. 

  • Theatre
  • Comedy
  • St Kilda

Did you try some self-improvement during lockdown? Ate only organic? Thought a juice cleanse was a good idea? Attempted 5am yoga? Perhaps you'll relate to Theatre Works' upcoming and (after being delayed over a year) highly anticipated show WellBless, a darkly funny and satirical take on the wellness industry. It's a sharp, black comedy skewering the wellness industry – and although it was originally due to play at Theatre Works at the start of 2020, it feels more relevant now than ever before.

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  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Theatre
  • Drama
  • Melbourne

While we may have been sworn to secrecy about Cursed Child’s plot, we can reveal that the hype – and rarely has a piece of theatre ever generated such fever-pitched buzz – is entirely deserved. After smashing box office records on Broadway and the West End, Cursed Child continues to delight Melbourne audiences with stage magic and an elaborate set design that has transformed the entire Princess Theatre. You've got until March 27 if you want to see the two-part production, as the show will close and reopen as just one part in May.

  • Music
  • Melbourne

In celebration of the end of lockdown and the resilience and community spirit of Melburnians, the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra has announced its triumphant return to the stage on December 13-14. Performance of a Lifetime: Live, which takes its name from the heartwarming vaccine awareness campaign launched by our arts industry earlier this year, will feature a stellar line-up of musicians and performers at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl.

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  • Theatre
  • Comedy
  • Melbourne

The Australian Shakespeare Company is bringing the Bard back to Melbourne's Royal Botanic Gardens this summer with a season of The Comedy of Errors. The play is one of Shakespeare's most chaotic comedies, drawing on the playwright's love of mistaken identities and puns – think of it as a Shakespearean version of The Parent Trap. The "picnic theatre" setting means you can BYO a picnic rug or low-rise chair, snacks and drinks to enjoy while watching the show.  

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Theatre
  • Musicals
  • Melbourne

The animated version of Frozen is focused on Elsa, but the stage version is much more centred on Anna, a kindhearted goofball played with true joy and charm by Courtney Monsma. Her singing is more than up to the task of Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez’s music, with a voice that’s Broadway-ready without going the full Ethel Merman. As Elsa, Jemma Rix manages to convey both the ice queen’s angst and her, pardon the pun, frigidity. 

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  • Things to do
  • Docklands

Whether you're a fan of Captain Jack Sparrow or the pirates of Penzance, we're pretty sure you haven't seen pirates like these before. After taking a hiatus during the lockdown, Cabaret performers at the Queens of the Damned theatre restaurant are back with a pirate-themed dinner production that will run until June 2022. This performance takes place across four different rooms in the 100-year-old Mission to Seafarers.

  • Theatre
  • Comedy
  • St Kilda

"Are you having kids?" It's the question that all women are asked at some point in their life, usually by somebody who has absolutely no right to be enquiring about it. It's a damned if you do, damned if you don't situation, making it fertile ground for Sadie Hasler's raucuous comedy Pramkicker. The production comes to Melbourne from Dirty Pennies Theatre Project, which premiered the show to Australian audiences in 2018.

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  • Comedy
  • Melbourne

Back for more laughs this December, Comedy Republic's Second Annual Christmas Pageant is set to delight audiences with six nights of merriment from December 16 to 23. Come all ye faithful and prepare to laugh along with the likes of Nath Valvo, Michelle Brasier, Ruby Slippers, Jude Perl, Sami Shah plus Melbourne's favourite man and purple puppet duo, Sammy J and Randy Feltface (who are reuniting for the first time in more than two years for one night only). 

  • Music
  • Music festivals
  • Melbourne

If you’re keen to support Melbourne’s vibrant local music industry by catching up on all of the gigs that you missed out on during lockdown, there couldn’t be a better way than by attending Melbourne Music Week. Rest up in preparation for a jam-packed ten-day program featuring more than 300 artists across more than 65 events. Head to the MMW website to view the full program.

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  • Music
  • Southbank

The Malthouse Outdoor Stage returns in 2021 with a range of concerts, talks and comedy shows from November onwards. After delighting audiences with its inaugural season at the end of 2020, the series is back with a line-up starring the  Emma Donovan and the Putbacks, Women of Soul, Uncle Jack Charles and a new, highly chaotic cabaret from Ash Flanders called S.S. Metaphor.

  • Music
  • St Kilda

Get ready to put the sparkle back into the festive season with Carols by Queerlight, a seasonal musical performance put on by the Melbourne Rainbow Band. This event, which has been described as the 'campiest thing since Christmas,' will take over the St Kilda Town Hall on Saturday, December 11. This year, the event welcomes families of all ages to attend and you can look forward to a visit from the man in red. 

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  • Music
  • Classical and opera
  • Melbourne

Audiences around the country can discover a traditional Wadawurrung story imagined as an all-ages opera in Parrwang Lifts the Sky. Though intended to show at the Arts Centre Melbourne (a plan that was dashed due to Victoria's fourth lockdown), you can now watch the opera online until late December. Written and composed by acclaimed soprano Deborah Cheetham (Yorta Yorta), Parrwang Lifts the Sky is based on a traditional Wadawurrung tale about a magpie named Parrwang.

  • Comedy
  • Stand Up
  • St Kilda

The Comedy at The Espy Summer Series launches November 28 with a line-up spanning major names through to the most promising new names in comedy. Already signed on to perform this year are the likes of Melanie Bracewell, Sami Shah, Prue Blake and Ethan Cavanagh, with more names to be announced. 

Before you book...

  • Theatre

Not all seats are created equal. Sure, there are some shows so spectacular and unmissable you’d happily sit anywhere, but most experiences in the theatre can be augmented by the best seats in the house. And occasionally ruined by the worst. So, without further ado, we give them to you.

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