From Wicked to Matilda to The Lion King, Melbourne loves a good musical. Here's our edit of the musicals Melbourne is getting excited about, from new releases to the best Melbourne shows coming soon. For more theatre information, check out our latest reviews and our guide to scoring cheap theatre tickets.
Musicals to see in Melbourne
Following in the footsteps of Disney's lavish stage adaptation of Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin brings the 1992 animation to stage as a Orientalist spectacular with razzle dazzle to spare. There are a few new tunes courtesy of the film's original composer, Alan Menken (Litte Shop of Horrors), plus some in-genie-ous flying-carpet special effects. The principal cast will remain the same as the Sydney season. Taking genie duties is Broadway's standby, Michael James Scott. For the titular role, local Ainsley Melham (Xanadu The Musical) is making his mainstage debut; the role of Jasmine will be played by Londoner Hiba Elchikhe. The principal cast also features locals Adam Murphy as Jafar and Aljin Abella as Iago.
Read about The Book of Mormon $40 ticket lottery. It can be difficult for Australian audiences to receive any international musical without certain preconceptions: the rumours of greatness tend to wash onto our shores long before the tour has even been announced. When one of the biggest Broadway hits of the millennium rolls into town, the sense of expectation can be dangerously high. The Book of Mormon comes with the kind of ecstatic hype usually found accompanying a messiah. Instead, Elders Price and Cunningham turn up – which is possibly less shattering, but ultimately way more fun. The unlikely genesis of this mega-hit is well documented; suffice to say that Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the brains behind South Park and Team America, made an unholy alliance with Robert Lopez, the creator of dirty puppet porn Avenue Q, to create this monstrous satire of everything. The result is a show as perverse as it is heartfelt, as clever as it is moving. It really is as good as they say. The opening number, ‘Hello’, sets the tone as deftly and memorably as ‘Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin’defines the parameters of Oklahoma! The scene is familiar to us all: a bunch of trainee missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ and Latter Day Saints are ringing on doorbells, keen to share the news “of this amazing book”. Their squeaky grins and infectious positivity are so aligned with the traditional image of the Broadway musical that the sparkly vests and tap routines that soon follow feel like a
Read Time Out Sydney's 3-star review of Cabaret. Producer David M. Hawkins is behind this new Australian production of a classic, which – like the 2014 Broadway Revival by Sam Mendes – will return to Christopher Isherwood's 1939 novella for inspiration. In other words, expect less Liza Minelli/Bob Fosse and more about the experience of what it was like for the Jews, gays and bohemians living at that time and place in history: Berlin during the Nazi rise to power. Paul Capsis will take on the role of the louche Emcee of the Kit Kat Klub, and Chelsea Gibb will play young British cabaret star wannabe Sally Bowles. Nicholas Christo will direct, with choreography by Kelley Abbey and musical direction by Lindsay Partridge.
My Fair Lady made Julie Andrews a star when it opened on Broadway in 1956, beginning a juggernaut career for the future Mary Poppins and Maria von Trapp. For its 60th anniversary, Andrews has moved to the director’s chair for a nostalgic production at the Sydney Opera House. The show has an oddly beloved, enduring place in our collective Western consciousness. Based on George Bernard Shaw’s play Pygmalion (though it’s far less bleak), My Fair Lady is perhaps the most popular adaptation of the story, where a young working-class woman is transformed into a ‘lady’ by two older gentlemen, as part of a wager. Andrews’ revival comes with an extra gimmick: her production faithfully recreates each detail of the original run (then directed by Moss Hart) from sets to costumes and beyond. Old designs and designer assistants were tracked down and studied to make a show that looks just like any given night of its record-breaking 2,717-night run on Broadway in the 1950s – with the exception of fresh choreography by Tony-award winner Christopher Gattelli, which is inspired by Hanya Holm’s original work. Unlike other adaptations of Pygmalion that embrace contemporary culture and suggest that these class or makeover experiments also change the men for the better (e.g. She’s All That or the swiftly cancelled but not without promise TV series Selfie) this replica My Fair Lady remains a product of its time. Its outdated gender politics are hard to ignore in 2016, and arguably shouldn’t be. T
Premiering on London's West End in 2012, Alexander Dinelaris's musical version of The Bodyguard is based on the 1992 film starring your ’90s boyfriend Kevin Costner as an ex-Secret Service agent hired to protect a superstar from her stalker, and Whitney Houston as the damsel-in-distress, Rachel Marron. It's coming to Australia in 2017 (thanks to producers Michael Harrison, David Ian and John Frost) with Fijian-born singer-songwriter and original Australian Idol Paulini making her theatrical debut in the role of Rachel Marron. Rachel's conniving sister Nicki will be played by The Voice's Prinnie Stevens, and stepping into the shoes of the bodyguard is Kip Gamblin (seen most recently on Neighbours). The Bodyguard opens in Melbourne in August. Tickets go on sale Monday February 27. Check out what Time Out London said about The Bodyguard.