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Production shot at The Lady in the Van
Photograph: Jeff Busby

Melbourne theatre, musical and dance reviews

Wondering which Melbourne shows to see? Check out the latest theatre, musical, opera and dance reviews from our critics

Written by
Time Out editors
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There's a lot happening across Melbourne's stages, so how do you know where to start? Thankfully our critics are always on hand to help with a recommendation.

Looking for something less dramatic? Check out the best art exhibitions in Melbourne this month.

5 stars: top notch, unmissable

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Theatre
  • Drama
  • Southbank
Often artistic works that attempt to draw a parallel between classic novels and modern pop culture tend to be overly wrought or uninteresting in their execution. The metaphor is sometimes so laborious that it comes off contrived, underestimating the intelligence of the audience. But Sydney Theatre Company’s critically acclaimed adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray does the opposite; it demands more from us, asks us to keep up, and, to put it frankly, blows our tiny minds.  That Eryn Jean Norvill is incredible is almost a given at this point – I wouldn’t be the first to note that her mesmerising and exhilarating performance was probably the catalyst for its pending journey to Broadway. As a writer, I often note that those who fancy writing as an easy task haven’t read a great novel; it is also true that those who fancy themselves an actor probably haven’t seen Norvill in this. To see her at the height of her powers, enthralling and clearly thriving on the overwhelming task of bringing to life 26 fully formed characters in quick succession, is to understand that truly great acting is a delicate and difficult craft. Sydney Theatre Company artistic director Kip Williams’ use of multiple live cameras and smartphones – including live-on-stage picture manipulation – is not only clever, but it pushes the boundaries of anything you ever expected of a theatre/technology crossover. This artistic innovation is only made better by the perfect combination of composer and
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Theatre
  • Drama
  • price 3 of 4
  • Melbourne
It’s Christmas for Potterheads. Three years after its celebrated opening at the expensively refurbished Princess Theatre, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is taking an apt step back in time with a second premiere, this time of a streamlined one-play version that carves a good three hours off of its original running time. There are various motivations for this. Even for ardent devotees or seasoned theatre veterans, six hours in a seat is a slog, and once killed-for tickets had become readily available. But what could have been a cynical hatchet job has turned out to be the making of this show. The main pillars of the story remain – picking up where JK Rowling’s novels ended, we meet the children of famed wizard Harry Potter as they depart for Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. However, the enduring friendships that kept Harry alive are elusive for Harry’s awkward son Albus, and when he fails to live up to the towering expectations of not just his school but the entire wizarding world, his sole friendship becomes both his greatest refuge and his biggest vulnerability. But while you might reasonably assume that this is a play about magic, you’d be wrong. This is a play about love. Which should come as no surprise – love is quite literally the most powerful, death-defying force in JK Rowling’s seven-book saga. What is surprising however, is how one of the greatest juggernaut fiction franchises of all time has leaned – comfortably, credibly, with heart-rending sensitivit
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  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 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. If you want to stop reading here and just book your tickets, we’ll understand.  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.  With the soundtrack available on Spotify and the original Broadway cast version available to anyone with a Disney+ account on demand, Hamilton is competing not so much with other musicals for your dollars and attention (there are no other shows of this type that can match the show’s tactical brilliance), but with itself. Most in the audience are at least familiar with the show by this point, and quite a few are able to mouth along to every word behind their masks. If you can see the original Broadway version any time you want and listen to the soundtrack 24 hours a day, what power does the staged version still hold?  In a word, magic. The entire cast is extraordinary, with every one of Andy Blankenbuehler's dance moves sharp as a tack and the constantly shifting stag
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Theatre
  • Musicals
  • price 3 of 4
When gloal hit musical Come From Away touched down in Melbourne last year, this big hearted show was an unexpected salve in the wake of lingering hard times. Now the show is set to recommence a national tour in 2022, landing at Comedy Theatre, Melbourne from August 27. Tickets for the Melbourne season are on sale soon, and you can sign up for the waitlist here. Read on for our review from the 2021 season: There is something perfect about Come From Away being the first theatre back on Melbourne's main stages. The musical is set on 9/11 in the tiny town of Gander, Newfoundland, to which 38 planes were diverted when United States airspace was closed in the wake of the terrorist attack. The almost 7,000 passengers on board, terrified, claustrophobic and desperate for news about what was happening, were taken in by the people of Gander and surrounding towns, nearly doubling the population for five days. The townsfolk gave them food, shelter and most importantly, kindness and comfort during the most horrific time in recent American history – until 2020, of course.  The underlying message of kindness and compassion in the face of unspeakable horror is one that's sorely needed right now. When the planes begin to land, the women of Gander start up a collection for donations, with a song that could have been penned last year: "Can I help? Is there something I need to do, something to keep me from thinking of all the scenes on the tube? I need something to do 'cause I can't watch the ne

4 stars: excellent and recommended

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Theatre
  • Musicals
  • Melbourne
After the past few years, it’s probably no wonder that we’ve seen a raft of productions that err on the side of melancholy. Moulin Rouge’s Satine was destined to find true love and die before she is able to realise her happy future. Girl From the North Country’s collection of characters are perhaps more appropriately described as a collection of tragedies. Alexander Hamilton dies in a duel, and Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill deals with heavy themes such as rape and addiction. So to bring a big, unabashed fairytale to Melbourne – and a Disney-endorsed, Rodgers and Hammerstein fairytale at that – feels like a big hug after a hard couple of years navigating the worst. As the streamers descended upon the audience during the final bow of opening night, a man behind me declared it was nice to experience a “traditional, cheerful musical for once”. He was right ­– watching Cinderella at the opulent Regent Theatre was almost like a reset; like we all suddenly remembered that it’s OK to smile. That we can actually enjoy a happy ending, true love, and all the rest. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start at the beginning. Originally a live-to-TV musical written specifically for the small screen by the duo, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella hit the airwaves in 1957 (about seven years after the Disney animated version). Julie Andrews played the titular role, and her star shining brightly – with a little help from the fairy godmother, of course – she was beamed out to an ep

3 stars: recommended with reservations

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Theatre
  • Musicals
  • Southbank
With new music by Tim Finn, and lyrics by Finn and director Simon Phillips, Come Rain orCome Shine is a romantic farce that pays homage to sing-along Broadway musical theatreand the Great American Songbook canon. In a humble share flat, humanities major Ray (Angus Grant) kneels before his record player to listen to his latest treasure, the 1959 Ray Charles version of 'Come Rain or Come Shine'. This Melbourne Theatre Company production of the same name, based on Nobel laureate Kazuo Ishiguro’s short story, reveals the antonymous relationship of rain and sunshine through a love triangle and the tempo of time. Ray swoons to the broody beauty of the music and the promise of love to come, as the arrival of vivacious economic student Emily (Gillian Cosgriff), a classmate of his housemate Charlie (Chris Ryan), is set to light up Ray’s life. Dressed in a rainbow of brightly coloured stripes, Emily shares his passion for the same Golden Age of early 20th-century music. Ray is smitten. However, the rakish and charming Charlie prefers upbeat contemporary music like The Knack’s 'My Sharona'. Emily is mesmerised by his hip thrusting dance skills. After graduation, they marry and move away to officially start their adult life. Thirty years later, as the trio enter middle age, Ray leaves a housemate, alcoholic girlfriend,and low tech flat in a nightlife district in Spain, to visit the couple in Hotel Bayswater – theirminimalist, luxury home. This transition from a cosy share flat to a sleek
  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Theatre
  • Musicals
Henry VIII. What’s the first thing you recall about this colourful historical character when his name is mentioned? Of course, it’s his six wives – “divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived,” as the first lyrics of Six The Musical recount in an evocative opening number reminiscent of Chicago’s ‘Cell Block Tango’. Of course, this is no coincidence. It isn’t the first time that a song in this new pop-rock musical sounds eerily familiar.  Written with the pop charts in mind (rather than a classic musical score), Six is delivered like an energetic, Spice-Girls-esque pop concert, complete with an all-female live band. Instead of a traditional storyline, the six wives of Henry VIII are recast as pop princesses in a questionably formed girl band linked by six tragic storylines and one hell of an ex-husband. They break the fourth wall almost immediately, asking the audience to help them decide who should be the lead singer of their all-girl group. Linked irrevocably by the patriarchal pages of history, Catherine of Aragon (Phoenix Jackson Mendoza), Anne Boleyn (Kala Gare), Jane Seymour (Loren Hunter), Anna of Cleves (Kiana Daniele), Katherine Howard (Chelsea Dawson) and Catherine Parr (played on opening night by Shannen Alyce Quan in place of Vidya Makan), spend the entire musical competing on the basis of which ex-wife had it the worst.  Of course, it’s a cursed basis upon which to decide; almost all of Henry’s wives were used and abused by the charismatic (and later t

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