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27 things every Sydney theatre lover knows

Written by
Ben Neutze

Sydney is home to one of the most famous and beautiful performing arts venues in the world (you may have heard of it), but being a theatre lover in this city can be a bit of a mad adventure. At the top end of town, there's slick, glossy and high profile shows, but the theatre in this city runs the gamut of styles, scale and, erm, quality. You really have to get wise to the ways of this town if you want to get the most out of its theatre scene.

Here's our list of things you've probably already figured out – and things you really should know – if you're theatre-mad and living in Sydney. 

1. If you need to sit in the back row of the Capitol Theatre, you may as well be sitting in the carpark.

2. There’s always at least one audience member at Ensemble who can’t figure out how to silence their mobile phone.

3. You probably see Mitchell Butel on stage more often than you see most members of your immediate family.

4. Helen Thomson could tell you your mother died and you’d probably still laugh.

5. Heather Mitchell makes art out of toast.

6. Heather Mitchell is as convincing as a precocious young boy as she is as a prickly Irish grandmother.

7. Heather Mitchell is who you want be when you grow up.

8. Stage-dooring is not really a thing in Sydney. If you want to be close to spectacular actors, just go to Griffin, the Hayes, Kings Cross Theatre, the Old Fitz or the Old 505.

9. Those boxes on the side of the stage at the Opera House’s Concert Hall are totally fine to sit in.

10. The boxes on the side of the Joan Sutherland Theatre are not at all fine to sit in.

11. You don’t need to be a tourist and walk up the monumental steps of the Opera House every single time – the internal staircase will get you where you need to go much faster.

12. If you wear stilettos to the Opera House, don’t even consider walking over the cobblestones on the forecourt. It may be the greatest building of the 20th century, but there clearly weren’t many women involved in the design process.

13. While you need to dress up a tad for the Opera House, you barely even need to be wearing shoes to feel comfortable at an indie theatre.

14. Some of Sydney’s indie theatres don’t have the best air conditioning. That’s the reason you think twice about matinees in the middle of summer.

15. The Twenties tickets at Sydney Theatre Company are the only reason you don’t have to skip meals. And they’re the only reason you care about how reliable your internet connection is.

16. Getting a Monday rush ticket to Griffin is approximately 15 times more satisfying than staying in and watching Q&A.

17. If you don’t crowd the door at Griffin, you won’t get a great seat.

18. Griffin has Four Pillars gin and tonics, making it arguably the best theatre bar in the city.

19. You’re part of the show if you’re in the front row at the Old Fitz – whether you like it or not.

20. The upstairs bathrooms at the Roslyn Packer Theatre have the shortest lines.

21. The bars and bathrooms in the northern foyer at the Joan Sutherland Theatre have the shortest lines – and the views are infinitely better.

22. The Theatre Royal is almost certainly never opening again. And while that’s a travesty for commercial musical theatre, you probably won’t miss that specific venue with its cramped dress circle, terrible sightlines and the disruptive rumbling of trains beneath the theatre, which always seem to come at the most poignant moment in the show. Seriously, those trains have better comedic timing than some Sydney actors.

23. It’s a bit of a joke when a local theatre company says they couldn’t find enough decent female directors to meet gender parity. Why? Well, to name just a few of those who are creating killer work on local stages: Jessica Arthur, Claudia Barrie, Leticia Cáceres, Kate Champion, Rachel Chant, Kate Cherry, Judy Davis, Elsie Edgerton-Till, Gale Edwards, Kate Gaul, Sarah Giles, Sarah Goodes, Priscilla Jackman, Adena Jacobs, Lee Lewis, Marion Potts, Paige Rattray, Imara Savage, Nadia Tass, Janine Watson, Anthea Williams.

24. If you ditch a sub-par Opera House show at intermission, there’s usually a space at the bar at Bennelong where you can splash out on a cocktail and a plate of yabby tails. You’ll spend more than you expected, but it’ll be a better investment than your ticket.

25. If you need a late-night carb fix after a show at Kings Cross Theatre, Griffin, the Hayes or the Old Fitz, Caffe Roma on Kellett Street serves great pizza and pasta until 2.30am. And there are crayons and butcher’s paper on every table. Because who isn’t a great artist at 2.30am after an inspiring night of theatre and an entire pizza?

26. Pending your own unexpected death, there will always be another chance to see Gale Edwards’ production of La Boheme. And if you somehow never have, you probably owe it to yourself. It’s still gorgeous.

27. Everybody you will see on stage in a musical is more beautiful than you.

Need a night out? Check out the best theatre this month and our hints for scoring cheap theatre tickets.

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