Musicals to see in Melbourne
Read about School of Rock's $25 ticket lottery. The Rock Musical is a subset with a very chequered past. For every Hair there’s a Rent; for every Hedwig and the Angry Inch there’s an American Idiot. Andrew Lloyd Webber might have seemed an odd choice to adapt the 2003 Jack Black film School of Rock for the stage, but then the man was synonymous with the rock musical when Jesus Christ Superstar ruled the world back in 1970. Some people think that show had as much to do with rock as Phantom of the Opera has to do with opera, but that’s kind of beside the point. It worked as a musical, more or less, and its songs entered the musical theatre canon almost instantly. School of Rock does seem now like a fairly obvious vehicle for a fully realised musical, but that’s hindsight talking. A lot could have gone wrong on the way to actualisation: the source material has a painfully thin plot, with really only one central gag; the music needs to be a pastiche but also has to convince as a completely integrated score; and the kids really have to be as talented as the story promises they will be. Any one of those could have brought this project to its knees, and not in that rock-god, slide-across-the-stage kind of way. While that plot might be thin, thankfully it’s still pretty good. Dewey (Brent Hill) is a man baby who mooches off his friend Ned (Zachary Pidd) so shamelessly that when posh private school Horace Green calls to offer Ned a substitute teaching job, Dewey takes it for himsel
Move over My Fair Lady: the next vintage production coming to Australia is the original Evita, with Australian pop princess Tina Arena starring as Eva Perón. Opera Australia and John Frost are collaborating to revive the 1978 West End production of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s blockbuster musical, directed by Tony Award-gobbling musical theatre veteran Harold Prince. Appearing alongside Arena is a starry international cast: as Juan Peron is Brazilian operatic baritone Paulo Szot, who won a Tony Award for his performance in the 2008 Broadway revival of South Pacific. London-based Australian performer Kurt Kansley will play Che, the narrator, while Wicked star Jemma Rix will play Evita at some performances. (It's traditional that there's an 'alternate Eva' scheduled for certain performances each week given the almighty vocal challenges of the role.) Conceived as a concept album in 1976, Evita tells the story of Argentine political figure Eva Perón, who when she died at 33 from cancer had become one of the most powerful women in Latin America – and thereafter was afforded an almost saintly status. Following its 1978 premiere on the West End (with Elaine Paige in the title role), the musical went on to win the Olivier Award for best musical and transferred to Broadway (where Patti LuPone took on the role), where it was the first British musical to win the Tony Award for best musical. In 1996, Madonna starred in the film adaptation of the musical. The Australian revival
Les Misérables is one of literature’s most famous and most emotionally powerful works. Published over 150 years ago by French poet Victor Hugo, the story features an epic cast of characters over a 17-year period as they struggle to survive in early 19th century France. Since it was first published in 1862, Les Misérables has been adapted for TV, film (most recently in 2012) and the stage as a musical. This January you’ll have the chance to see the heart-tugging musical on stage for yourself when the Young Australian Broadway Chorus (YABC) presents its own production of the timeless masterpiece. Les Misérables presented by the Young Australian Broadway Chorus will see the classic novel and riveting stage musical brought to life by some of Melbourne’s most dazzling young performers. Though the cast is young, many of them are already seasoned actors and singers who have trained with YABC for many years. The organisation is known for training children and young people in the theatre arts, with past alumni going on to score roles in some of Australia’s most beloved recent stage productions like The Wizard of Oz, Muriel’s Wedding and Jersey Boys. After their 2018 season of Wicked received stellar reviews, the YABC's production of Les Misérables will be their most ambitious show to date. The musical stage show will feature a cast of more than 100 talented young actors and singers as well as a full youth orchestra to perform the spectacular score. Les Misérables will be perf
Drag superstars, cult cabaret artists and gender-bending performance artists take over the city every summer – not to mention the swag of free parties, events and more. In the past few years,LGBTQIATIQiA-focused festival has began to come into its own as an international arts festival, pairing a suite of free events and parties with a program of theatre, cabaret, live art and music. It's been more than three decades since the first Midsumma launched, and the festival now attracts talen from all corners of the globe. Whether you're queer or an ally, there's an event for everyone at Midsumma, so break out those rainbow threads and get celebrating!
Last in Melbourne in 2009, Broadway smash Jersey Boys is back in 2018 with an Australian cast led by Ryan Gonazalez and Daniel Raso (sharing the role of Frankie Valli), Cameron MacDonald, Thomas McGuane and Glaston Toft (reprising his role as bassist Nick Massi). In our 2010 review, we wrote: A loving recreation of the beginnings of the band, their hits, their behind-the-scenes antics and bitter rivalries, it's a riveting and tightly worked homage. More importantly, it's an engrossing story that traces the story of four boys from New Jersey through their struggle for recognition, underworld entanglements and exponential rise to stardom. It also covers the deep rifts that formed over money, women and personal differences.For long-time fans the tunes and attendant storyline will be familiar, but it also works as an introduction for yet-to-be fans – it may be a surprise to younger audience members that 'Oh, What a Night' is sung by the same band as 'Can't Take My Eyes off You' and 'Walk Like a Man'. It may also surprise that their clean-cut image masked some gritty realities – this may have been the era of Leave it to Beaver, but these boys have more in common with the Sopranos (salty language included). The story is in four parts, each narrated by one of the original band members. The usual pitfall with the jukebox musical is that the songs are but tenuously related to the storyline, and often come off as contrived (because they are). Using the songs of a band to tell its ow
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
It's time for Melbourne's boys to don their ballet shoes – Billy Elliot the Musical is on its way back to Australian shores for a tenth anniversary tour.
Come from Away is set to open at the Comedy Theatre in July 2019, joining upcoming Melbourne premieres of School of Rock and Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. The historic Comedy Theatre will get major refurbishment and new seats in time for Come From Away's Australian opening.
Next year is shaping up to be Opera Australia's big year of West Side Story. Not only is the company presenting a massive outdoor production in Sydney as part of its annual Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour, it's just announced a production for theatres in both Melbourne and Sydney.
Long before Hugh Jackman donned a top hat and tails, the story of circus innovator and entertainment impresario PT Barnum was brought to life on stage in a musical.