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David Wenham as Scrooge for A Christmas Carol.
Photograph: Jeff Busby

The best of Melbourne theatre and musicals this month

From The Phantom of the Opera to A Christmas Carol, here are the must-see shows you can't miss in Melbourne this month

Written by
Saffron Swire
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It may be revving up to the end of the year, but Melbourne's theatre scene is far from slowing down. A dazzling line-up of productions, from multi-award winning musicals to knee-slapping parodies, are gracing stages across the city this month.

The show on everyone's lips is The Phantom of the Opera, a show so good we gave it four stars in our recent review. Broadway's Hamilton is continuing its successful run for a few more weeks, while a new production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat has been receiving standing ovations at Melbourne's Regent Theatre since its glittering debut.

Pack a picnic, relax under the stars and settle in for a pop-rock adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing as the Shakespearean classic will be returning to the Royal Botanical Gardens this month. You can also check out Friends! The Musical Parody, Monsters and Slava's SnowshowMake sure not to miss the five-star rated Sunshine Super Girl about Wiradjuri tennis champion Evonne Goolagong Cawley.

And just in time for the festive season is A Christmas Carolstarring none other than much-loved Australian actor David Wenham as Scrooge. 

For many more that should be on your must-see list, discover the best Melbourne theatre and musicals this December below.

Want something else to do this month? Check out our gig guide.

Melbourne's best shows this month

  • Theatre
  • Musicals
  • Southbank

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 with the arrival of arguably Andrew Lloyd Webber's most famous musical.

The Phantom of the Opera has arrived at the Arts Centre in Melbourne with West Side Story star Josh Piterman in the title role (and ghoulish half-face mask). Unbelievably, it's the first time the box office smash has graced the Arts Centre Melbourne in its 35-year history. 

The Phantom of the Opera will run until January 29, 2023. Tickets for the production are on sale now

  • Theatre
  • Musicals
  • Melbourne

Although sometimes overshadowed by that other Andrew Lloyd Webber-Tim Rice sung-through Biblical musical, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat has been beloved by musical theatre fans the world over since its first West End production in 1973.

It tells the story of Joseph from the Book of Genesis, who gets sold into slavery in Egypt by his jealous brothers and works his way up to become the Pharaoh's right-hand man. The show's famous songs, including 'Any Dream Will Do' and 'Go Go Go Joseph', are earworms that will stay with audiences long after final bows.

Joseph is the first staging of this newly reimagined production outside of the UK. Euan Fistrovic Doidge will be stepping into the shoes (or rather, the colourful coat) of Joseph. After grabbing attention in the national tour of Cruel Intentions: the ’90s Musical, Doidge is well known to Australian audiences having starred as Tony Manero in Saturday Night Fever, Felicia in Priscilla Queen of the Desert, and as Marius in Les Misérables.

Fijian-born songstress Paulini needs no introduction to anyone who saw her soar to the final four in the first season of Australian Idol and top the charts with both her solo career and time with pop group the Young Divas. She has proven herself a powerful presence in musical theatre too, starring in The Bodyguard MusicalSaturday Night Fever, the 50th Anniversary of Hair the Musical. She will star as the Narrator in Joseph.

It's been more than 30 years since Joseph was last performed in Australia, so we reckon it's well past time to revisit the classic show.

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  • Theatre
  • Drama
  • Melbourne

Dickens' A Christmas Carol has arrived in Melbourne, and the production features none other than much-loved Australian actor David Wenham in the role of Scrooge. Set for a pre-Christmas season from November 12 to December 24, the smash hit staging of the timeless holiday story is playing at the Comedy Theatre.

A Christmas Carol was the most-awarded play of 2021, sweeping the Tonys with five award wins. Two Tony Award winners themselves created the magical rendition: director Matthew Warchus (Matilda the Musical) and playwright Jack Thorne (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child). The production delivers striking staging, moving storytelling, and 12 traditional Christmas carols, including ‘Joy to the World’ and ‘Silent Night’.

A Christmas Carol is a ripping yarn," says Wenham. "This production is as compelling as it is surprising. I’m counting the days to get back on the stage in the role of Scrooge. It’s a story of hope, redemption and community. I guarantee the audience will leave the theatre feeling better about themselves and the world at the end of the show. A perfect story to be told at Christmas time.”

The stellar full Australian cast stars Emily Nkomo (Jagged Little Pill) as Little Fan, Anthony Harkin (Kinky Boots, the Sound of Music, Next to Normal) as Jacob Marley, Sarah Morrison (Come From Away, Ladies in Black, Mamma Mia!) as Belle, Nicholas Kong (Spring Awakening, Anything Goes) as Fezziwig, Andrew Coshan (A View From The BridgeMerrily We Roll Along) as Fred and Stephanie Lambourn (Broadway cast of A Christmas Carol) as Mrs Cratchit.

You can buy tickets now at the official website.

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  • Theatre
  • Musicals
  • Melbourne

Is Hamilton, the smash-hit American history musical that won a whopping 11 Tony Awards and a Pulitzer Prize when it debuted on Broadway in 2015 and won the hearts of critics and audiences the world over, as good as everyone says? In a word, yes. 

There is a reason it is the most hyped show on Earth, and its writer and first star, Lin-Manuel Miranda, is now a household name. Some 3 million people watched the musical when it appeared on Disney+ in July 2020, and almost 8 million more have seen it live, in cities across the US, in London’s West End and in Sydney. Now it’s Melbourne's turn, with the show taking over Her Majesty's Theatre

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  • Theatre
  • Southbank

"Why did I win, when so many others lost? What’s it cost?" Ponders tennis legend Evonne Goolagong Cawley in the opening sequence of Sunshine Super Girl. This delightful play washes the audience with glorious layers of sunshine sweetness; and in return, exuberant, life-affirming positivity radiates back in the form of joy-filled laughter, loud cheering and eventually a celebratory standing ovation. 

Audience engagement and the aforementioned ovation are testimony to the visionary talent of writer-director Andrea James. Uplifting vignettes of family escapades and a supportive community pull at the heart strings, while the seamless fluidity of performance, set, wardrobe, lighting and sound is buoyed by the audience’s pride and relief that in 2022 the dark age of racism that Goolagong Cawley experienced has evolved – and our contemporary society is making progress toward the light of racial equality.

The Melbourne Theatre Company's Southbank Theatre auditorium is extended beyond the stage and divided in two halves, with a desert-red clay tennis court in the centre. Set and costume designer Romanie Harper presents a 70s and 80s-inspired stylised tennis glamour that could easily grace the pages of a high-end fashion magazine. With support from video media designer Mic Gruchy, live-action landscapes carpet the stage and transport the narrative through time and place: from the clay tennis court to the manicured green grass courts of Wimbledon; and to the gentle ripples of the backwater where Goolagong Cawley fishes.

Under the movement direction of Vicki Van Hout and Katina Olsen, dance is a language of privilege, culture, and athleticism. At times grounded in Aboriginal culture and ancestral meaning, it also soars smoothly into riveting and masterfully executed synchronised tennis matches. 

Ella Ferris’ portrayal as freshwater woman Goolagong Cawley is exhilarating and alive with the crowd-pleasing skills the tennis legend herself is renowned for. Lincoln Elliot is a loveable larrikin Dad and a sexy and considerate Roger Cawley (Evonne’s love interest); Kirk Page, as Evonne’s controlling coach, presents a chilling portrayal of exploitation and abuse thinly concealed behind the façade of champion supporter. The tenderness and generosity of Jax Compton as Mum to the Goolagong seven is a huggable delight; and Katina Olsen, in her various roles, ascends with grace and glory that transforms the stage with pace and purpose to ultimately create a monumental and magical theatre experience. More movement-driven theatre stories please!

And as for the answer to Evonne Goolagong Cawley’s opening question, here it is: "Why me? Why not!"

Sunshine Super Girl is playing at Southbank Theatre until December 14. For more information and to book your tickets, head to the website.

Want to be dazzled by more stage magic? These are the best theatre and musicals happening in Melbourne this month.

  • Theatre
  • Drama

Hold onto the edge of your seats; you don’t know what’ll be lurking around you.

Malthouse Theatre in collaboration with Stephanie Lake Company presents Monsters, a thrilling one-act monologue intertwining theatre and dance that’s set to make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.

Centering around a woman who goes searching for her sister after she has disappeared beneath a sinkhole in Melbourne, Monsters shows what happens when you’re left alone with your thoughts, and the real and imagined monsters you may come across as you journey deeper into the darkness.

Created by writer Emme Hoy, director Matther Lutton and choreographer Stephanie Lake, Monsters stars Alison Whyte (Cloudstreet, The Bloody Chamber) alongside dancers Samantha Hines, Josie Weise and Kimball Wong, who move in and out of a gothic set to illuminate visions of what the woman discovers in the depths of the earth (and wishes she didn’t). Fans of Darkfield and Ghost Stories will relish in this nightmarish tale.

Monsters is a Malthouse Theatre and Stephanie Lake Company co-production. While Malthouse is a beloved Melbourne institution, Stephanie Lake Company is currently touring two major productions – Colossus and Manifesto – both of which have received rave reviews.

Monsters choreographeStephanie Lake says, "‘With its fusion of choreography, text, sound and design, Monsters is a work that is bodily, visceral and frightening with a ripping story and magnificent dancing."

Monsters runs from November 24 until December 11 in the Merlyn Theatre. Tickets are available now and start from $50 per adult.

Find out more information and book your ticket to Monsters here.

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  • Theatre
  • Musicals
  • Melbourne

One thing is certain: it hasn't been anyone's day, week, month or year. But things are looking up with the hotly anticipated Friends! The Musical Parody finally set to hit Melbourne in 2022. 

This production is of course based off Friendsone of the world's most popular sitcoms. The comedic stage musical has proved just as popular, playing for almost a year in New York before touring the US. After being delayed a number of times due to the events of 2020-2021, the show is finally coming to Melbourne from November 23, bringing all your favourite twenty-somethings to the stage as they negotiate life, love and work in 1990s New York.

The musical was penned by Bob and Tobly McSmith, who have a long track record of lovingly spoofing '90s TV shows, recreating TV's most memorable moments and creating soundtracks that bring something new to the stories we already know and love. The Australian production is directed by Dash Kruck with choreography by Cameron Mitchell, set and costume design by Frances Hannaway, lighting by Jason Glenwright and musical direction by Steven Kreamer. And it goes without saying, but this is an unauthorised parody. 

Tickets for the Friends! The Musical Parody Melbourne season are on sale now.

  • Theatre
  • Comedy
  • Melbourne

Melbourne’s favourite outdoor theatre company is returning to the Royal Botanic Gardens with a pop-rock adaption of a classic Shakespearean comedy. The Australian Shakespeare Company’s Much Ado About Nothing will run from December 17 until February 4, 2023, and is guaranteed to deliver some trusty sitcom laughs, bangin' tunes and a whole lotta love. 

In this reimagined hit, the Babes of Disdain go head to head with Benedick and the Love Gods in a battle-of-the-sexes clash that will have you bopping for days. Pack a picnic or feast on the on-site food options, and pop a bottle as the summer sun sets over the gardens. 

“There’s nothing quite like Shakespeare infused with hints of pop music, rock imagery, pantomime and sitcom," says director Glenn Elston. "All tightly linked and true to a clear and well-executed delivery of a terrific text, our adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing is for everyone, not just Shakespeare lovers.”

For more information and to purchase tickets, head to the website.

Love Shakespeare with a twist? Tickets for the award-winning musical & Juliet are now on sale.

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  • Theatre
  • Circuses
  • Southbank

Clouds of bubbles float into the theatre to bob among the audience. A full-blown blizzard envelopes the stage. And a team of sad, funny clowns in green overcoats and batwing hats arrives to bring anarchic joy and some winter magic to a broiling Australian summer.

This is Slava’s Snowshow – a classic of 20th-century visual theatre that has held audiences spellbound on Broadway, the West End, and anywhere you can think of. More than 7 million people have seen this production since its inception in 1993, and it’s making a welcome return to Australia for the first time in a decade in December 2022.

Slava’s Snowshow is the invention of Slava Polunin, a Russian-born, Paris-based clown of the old school, the custodian of an age-old tradition but praised for bringing clown-based theatrical spectacle into the modern era. Occupying a genre all of its own, Slava’s Snowshow is a spontaneous and magical experience noted for transporting adults into a childlike state of wonder. 

If you’ve ever thought of the theatre as hard work or clowns as not for you, this show could be your game changer. You can bring your kids (if they’re not too little), but this is no tame family show – it’s something altogether more profound and sublime. 

Find out more and book tickets.

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On sale now

  • Theatre
  • Musicals
  • Southbank

We've spoken about ghosts at the Arts Centre Melbourne before, 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 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.

  • Theatre
  • Musicals
  • Melbourne

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat has been beloved by musical theatre fans the world over since its first West End production in 1973. It tells the story of Joseph from the Book of Genesis, who gets sold into slavery in Egypt by his jealous brothers and works his way up to become the Pharaoh's right-hand man. The show's famous songs, including 'Any Dream Will Do' and 'Go Go Go Joseph', are earworms that will stay with audiences long after final bows.

It's been more than 30 years since Joseph was last performed in Australia, so we reckon it's well past time to revisit the classic show. Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat takes over Melbourne's gorgeous Regent Theatre in November.

Advertising
  • Theatre
  • Drama
  • Melbourne

Dickens' A Christmas Carol is coming to the Melbourne stage, and the production will feature none other than much-loved Australian actor David Wenham in the role of Scrooge. Set for a pre-Christmas season from November 12 to December 24, the smash hit staging of the timeless holiday story will be playing at the Comedy Theatre.

A Christmas Carol was the most awarded play of 2021, sweeping the Tonys with five award wins. Two Tony Award winners themselves created the magical rendition: director Matthew Warchus (Matilda the Musical) and playwright Jack Thorne (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child). The production delivers striking staging, moving storytelling, and 12 traditional Christmas carols, including ‘Joy to the World’ and ‘Silent Night’.

A Christmas Carol is a ripping yarn," says Wenham. "This production is as compelling as it is surprising. I’m counting the days to get back on the stage in the role of Scrooge. It’s a story of hope, redemption and community. I guarantee the audience will leave the theatre feeling better about themselves and the world at the end of the show. A perfect story to be told at Christmas time.”

The stellar full Australian cast has just been announced and stars Emily Nkomo (Jagged Little Pill) as Little Fan, Anthony Harkin (Kinky Boots, the Sound of Music, Next to Normal) as Jacob Marley, Sarah Morrison (Come From Away, Ladies in Black, Mamma Mia!) as Belle, Nicholas Kong (Spring Awakening, Anything Goes) as Fezziwig, Andrew Coshan (A View From The BridgeMerrily We Roll Along) as Fred and Stephanie Lambourn (Broadway cast of A Christmas Carol) as Mrs Cratchit.

You can buy tickets now at the official website.

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  • Things to do
  • Southbank

What could possibly improve on the grandeur of the Harry Potter film series? Seeing it on a huge screen with the magnificent Melbourne Symphony Orchestra performing the score live. 

Over the last few years, Melburnians have gotten to hear the awe-inspiring scores from films one through six, and now it's finally time for the series to draw to a close with the last two films of the Harry Potter series. 

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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