Musicals to see in Melbourne
The last time audiences saw a big budget musical adaptation of a Roald Dahl novel was when the Royal Shakespeare Company teamed up with Tim Minchin for the incomparable wonder that was Matilda. So naturally – even though no two shows are alike and you can’t bottle lightning and yada yada – we are going to compare Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to that, and naturally it’s going to come up short. Best to get that out of the way early. But, once you’ve brushed away the fog of expectation, it’s pretty easy to enjoy yourself here; you don’t even need a particularly sweet tooth. This is largely because Dahl’s original, like all his work, is as brittle and nutty as it is sweet. The story of poor Charlie Bucket (Benjamin Belsey, Elijah Slavinskis, Edgar Stirling, Lenny Thomas, Lachlan Young), so impoverished he can only have a single bar of chocolate on his birthday, winning a golden ticket to the magical wonderland that is Willy Wonka’s (Paul Slade Smith) Chocolate Factory, is a morality tale of the most gruesome and delectable kind. Charlie’s fellow winners – Augustus Gloop (Jake Fehily), Veruca Salt (Karina Russell), Violet Beauregard (Jayme-Lee Hanekom) and Mike Teavee (Harrison Riley) – are all hideous creatures of desire and self-gratification. Only Charlie is pure of heart, and deserves the ultimate prize. This adaptation has gone through many iterations since it opened in London on Drury Lane in 2013, with massive changes in scale and content. The original sets were lavi
This musical from Kander and Ebb (the songwriting team behind Cabaret and Chicago) has never before had a professional mainstage production in Australia. Melbourne Theatre Company's artistic director Brett Sheehy says he’s reversing that “unconscionable neglect” with this new production starring Australia’s own Broadway and West End star (she played the leading role in Chicago on Broadway), Caroline O’Connor. It’s based on Manuel Puig’s 1976 novel set inside a South American prison where two men are sharing a cell. One is a Marxist revolutionary, and the other is a gay window dresser who escapes into a fantasy world of movies starring the fabulous diva Aurora. That’s where O’Connor comes in. The cast also includes Adam Jon Fiorentino, Natalie Gamsu, and Bert LaBonté (The Book of Mormon). Helpmann Award-winner and musical theatre dynamo Dean Bryant directs.
Long before it was an Academy Award-winning film, Chicago was a hit Broadway musical. Penned by musical theatre's dynamic duo John Kander and Fred Ebb, the musical was only a minor splash when it premiered in 1975. But when it was given a stripped back and sexed up new production in 1996, it became an immediate sensation and eventually the longest running Broadway revival of all time. That's the production which Melbourne audiences will see, this time with Natalie Bassingthwaighte playing Roxie (the Renée Zellweger role) opposite musical theatre star Alinta Chidzey as Velma (the Catherine Zeta-Jones role). Jason Donovan is playing the smooth-talking lawyer Billy Flynn, while vocal powerhouse Casey Donovan is taking on Matron Mama Morton, the prison warden who sings 'When You're Good to Mama'. The show also includes 'Razzle Dazzle', 'Cell Block Tango', 'Mr Cellophane', and, of course, 'All That Jazz'.
It's time to don your ballet shoes and practice your plié – Billy Elliot the Musical is on its way back to Australian shores for a tenth anniversary tour. The British musical blockbuster is opening at the Sydney Lyric in October, with four freakishly talented youngsters sharing the title role: Omar Abiad (12, from Brisbane), River Mardesic (10, from Melbourne), Wade Neilsen (12, from Newcastle) and Jamie Rogers (12, from Canberra). They're joined by Australian musical theatre stalwart Kelley Abbey as the tough-as-nails ballet teacher Mrs Wilkinson, and Justin Smith as Billy's father. The musical is set against the background of the 1984/85 UK coal miners' strike and tells the story of Billy, a miner's son who dreams of becoming a professional ballet dancer. Lee Hall, who wrote the popular 2000 film upon which the musical is based, adapted the story for the stage with musical superstar Elton John, who penned the score. Elton John said: "Billy Elliot for me is one of the most rewarding and creative works of my career. I have very fond memories of the Sydney production in 2007 as it was the first city outside of the UK we mounted the show and found many incredibly talented children who would go on to carry the show through its successful Australian run." After opening on London's West End in 2005 – where it scored a five-star review from Time Out London – the show had its Australian premiere in 2007, winning a record-equalling seven Helpmann Awards including Best Musical.
Melbourne: Do you believe in freedom, beauty, truth and love? Yes? Good. A spectacular stage version of Moulin Rouge! opened on Broadway this week and now we have official confirmation that it's on its way to Melbourne.
Here's an ogre-sized announcement: Broadway's musical version of the much-loved 2001 Dreamworks movie Shrek is making its Australian professional debut in a tour early next year.
In 1990, Jimmy Chi's musical about a runaway teenage Aboriginal boy on a wild and eye-opening road trip became a surprise hit.
Melbourne musical theatre fans have had to wait a long time to see the celebrated stage version of Alison Bechdel’s graphic novel Fun Home.
Opera Australia has a long history of bringing classic musicals to local audiences, but generally they've been faithful and traditional productions. But the company is doing something a little different as part of its 2020 Melbourne season: Fiddler on the Roof performed entirely in Yiddish.