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
Remember when Krispy Kreme donuts arrived on our shores? Australians were told in breathless tones that these were the “best in the world”, but when we bit into them we discovered they were strangely insubstantial and sickly sweet. Disney’s Aladdin has all the glaze and ornament of those airy donuts, and about as much nutritional value.Not that the original source was a feast for mind and soul. Aladdin was a largely forgettable 1992 Disney confection made palatable by the extraordinary improv skills of the late, great Robin Williams. It conformed precisely to a formula that is now virtually ubiquitous in animation: a plunder of traditional stories with little to no appreciation of their cultural significance; wisecracking animals who help disguise large chunks of exposition; and as many current pop culture references as possible, just so people know it’s all happening now.Much has been made of Princess Jasmine’s (Hiba Elchikhe) fierce sense of independence and the fact she isn’t white, but both of these traits come to very little in the transition to the stage. Aladdin (Ainsley Melham) is the focus, and their coupling – while not without its endearing naivety – doesn’t seem transgressive or evolutionary. The journey of self-discovery is all his, and it’s a classic Disney one: be yourself. She gets to marry her prince, but only because her father, the Sultan (George Henare) changes the law to allow it. It’s not exactly smashing the patriarchy.The characters who make the easies
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
When it was announced that Julie Andrews was going to direct a production of My Fair Lady in Australia, lifelong fans started salivating immediately. When she explained that it would be an exact replica of the original 1956 Broadway production in which she starred and made her name, doubts began to creep in. Could you possibly recreate the magic and allure of what was at the time the greatest musical theatre success story ever? And even if you could, why would you? What could a hoary old production, trapped in amber, have to say to modern audiences, even those primed for nostalgia?The answers are surprisingly multi-layered, even contradictory. It is, of course, impossible to know exactly how faithful the production is moment by moment without a time machine and a photographic memory, but certainly the sets (Oliver Smith) and costumes (Cecil Beaton) are verifiably precise, and the choreography breaks its back to seem authentic. My Fair Lady had several runs, on the West End and in revivals, and this 60th anniversary production aims to collate all that the designers learnt along the way. It means we have a gorgeous period motorcar that was intended for, but never appeared in, a scene on the road to Ascot. It means we get details, in both the scenic and lighting design, that have been augmented and refined, according to the production’s evolution. If that constitutes a replica, then maybe the concept isn’t so absurd.Lerner and Loewe’s musical adaptation of George Bernard Shaw’s
He was an Australian Idol angel, but now Rob “Millsy” Mills takes on the ultimate role in the Production Company’s take on Jesus Christ Superstar, the Andrew Lloyd Webber/Tim Rice spectacular following the last days of Jesus’ life through the eyes of disgruntled Judas (Zoy Frangos).Gale Edwards (who directed the 2001 Jesus Christ Superstar made-for-TV movie) is helming this short season of the rock musical to end all rock musicals, and the cast is stacked with serious talent. Trevor Ashley (Les Miserables, Liza With a Z) will camp it up as King Herod, Production Company favourite Alinta Chidzey plays Mary Magdalene, and with a 21-member-strong ensemble packed with mega-vocalists you expect some face-melting sound – musical theatre style.
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.
Premiering in Sydney in 2016, this new musical sees Oz music theatre mega-producer John Frost team up with three-time Helpmann Award-winner David Campbell (Shout! The Legend of the Wild One) and director Simon Phillips (Ladies in Black) to celebrate American jazz musician, songwriter and nightclub crooner Bobby Darin. Darin broke through into international stardom in the late 1950s with the hit tunes 'Dream Lover' and 'Beyond the Sea', among others. He and actress Sandra Dee also became media darlings following an on-set romance during the filming of the 1960 film Come September, after which they married. Campbell will reprise the role of Darin, joined by Hannah Fredericksen as Sandra Dee. Co-written by Frank Howson (writer the films Boulevard of Broken Dreams and What the Moon Saw) and John-Michael Howson (co-writer of Shout! and Dusty: The Original Pop Diva), Dream Lover features 34 hits either written or reinterpreted by Darin in the 50s and 60s, including 'Mack The Knife', 'Beyond the Sea', 'Splish Splash' and 'Dream Lover'. Our Sydney reviewer wrote: "Dream Lover knows what it’s about: Darin’s well-known hits, with his triumphs and tribulations interwoven with songs for added emotional effect. This is a jukebox musical with heart, and its energy and enthusiasm is contagious." Read Time Out Sydney's 4-star review of Dream Lover.