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Virginia Gay in a pink wig
Photograph: Supplied/Daniel Boud/Belvoir

Virginia Gay unwraps a festive end to Belvoir's jam-packed 2021 season

The year will come to a joyous end, with a pantomime written by and starring the Calamity Jane hero

Written by
Stephen A Russell

After joyously reopening with Anita Hegh in the Carissa Licciardello-directed adaptation of Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own, Belvoir has now uneveiled what the end of the year looks like at the Surry Hills institution. And it's going to be a whole heap of fun. 

September brings the glorious Festival of Everything, combining everything from stand-up to satire, cabaret to comedy, and feilding famous faces like Eddie Perfect and Judith Lucy. Then there are two fiercely brillaint plays by radical women writers in Alana Valentine's new work Wayside Bride, and the Caryl Churchill classic Light Shining in Buckinghamshire.

And last but certainly not least, Calamity Jane good-time gal Virginia Gay has fallen in love with the British art of pantomime, creating a peculiarly Aussie take on the Christmas cheer-bringing tradition that will have audiences rolling in the aisles with The Boomkak Panto.

Read on to find out more...

On stage at Belvoir

  • Theatre
  • Drama
  • Surry Hills

Why choose between two great plays when you can have both? That’s Belvoir artistic director Eamon Flack’s thinking behind their very first repertory season. The idea is simple: the same cast – including Sacha Horler, Rebecca Massey, Brandon McClelland and Angeline Penrith – appears in both plays, using the same set, as staged on alternate nights for the duration of the run, from October 7 to November 14. Wayside Bride is a brand-new Australian play by the brilliant Alana Valentine. It was written with a lot of help from the local Cross community about Sydney institution the Wayside Chapel and Reverend Ted Noff, who created a space for those who might not find a place elsewhere. It’s about the radicalism in the 1970s and the quietly revolutionary act of marriage in the face of fierce resistance from family, society and the church hierarchy. It’s in the mix with Caryl Churchill classic Light Shining in Buckinghamshire. It’s set in 1649, and after England’s bloody Civil War. “The question of the play is: When you cut your king’s head off and overthrow the system, what do you replace it with? And how do you win that battle to not just replace it with more of the same?” Flack adds. “That feels like a very pertinent question. And, much like Wayside Bride, it’s also about the idea that if a society only takes care of its winners, then it’s bankrupt.” Tickets go on sale May 3, and all you have to decide is to jump on one or both.

  • Theatre
  • Musicals
  • Surry Hills

Christmas is undeniably camp. All that glittering tinsel. And what could be camper than Calamity Jane star Virginia Gay leading an all-star Aussie pantomime for Belvoir’s dramatic flourish of an ending to 2021? Pantos, as they are more affectionately known, are known for fielding massive stars in super-camp stagings of (usually) fairytales, with lots of gender fluidity, booing at bad guys and general audience hilarity. The Boomkak Panto will see out the year in style. And it addresses one of the most Aussie stories of all: a big developer muscling in on a small community that is not having a bar of it. This regional outpost launches into a David and Goliath battle to save their town, which is full of happy families, refreshing diversity and the occasional rivalry. They all draw together in a battle for survival and, in a meta-textual twist, fight back by staging their own pantomime. “It’s a suitably ridiculous plotline, but completely on theme for Belvoir,” Flack says. “My nickname for it is the panto panto, because it is a panto about putting on a panto. It’s just an excuse to pack as much theatrical joy into one plot as you can possibly stretch to, which is a pretty good way to end the year.”


Find out what's on at STC in 2021 too

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