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  1. singers and dancers dressed as app band version of the the six wives of Henry VIII in Six the Musical
    Photograph: James Morgan / Getty Images
  2. A man crouches in terror on the floor
    Photograph: Supplied/Daniel Boud
  3. Virginia Gay in a pink wig
    Photograph: Supplied/Daniel Boud/Belvoir
  4. Jason Arrow and the cast of Hamilton
    Photograph: Supplied/Daniel Boud
  5. The cast of Come From Away's Melbourne run
    Photograph: Jeff BusbyThe cast of Come From Away's Melbourne run

Here are the biggest theatre shows opening this summer

The next few months are going to be a massive with Sydney's stages dusting down and firing up the spotlights once more

Written by
Stephen A Russell
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When Hamilton became the first blockbuster show to raise the curtain earlier this year, after months of stages lying dormant with only ghost lights to illuminate them, it was unimaginably joyous for theatre lovers who had been starved for almost a year. And then the current lockdown kicked in and it all disappeared once more. 

But the fab news is Sydneysiders got vaccinated in droves, with cast and crews back where they belong. Reduced capacityies and mandatory mask-wearing is a small price to pay to see Broadway smashes like Come From Away and Jagged Little Pill the Musical join Lin Manuel Miranda's blockbuster. They're joined by an encore run of West End hit Six the Musical and also fresh new looks at classics in Julius Caesar and Death of a Salesman.

And there's so much more to come. Read on for our guide to what's heading your way very soon. 

Excited to see some shows? Check out Belvoir St Theatre's 2022 line-up and the exciting shows to expect from Sydney Theatre Company next year.

Mainstage and indie theatre

  • Theatre
  • Drama
  • Dawes Point

What better way for Sydney Theatre Company (STC) to mark its grand, post-lockdown return than with one of the grandest plays of all time? Artistic director Kip Williams ushers audiences back into the Wharf with the back-stabbing drama of Shakespeare’s magnificent Julius Caesar. Running from November 15 to December 24, it will be their very first show to be performed in the round, thanks to the flexibility of the new renos. And sheesh, what a cast he has assembled, with Geraldine Hakewill (The Real Thing), Ewen Leslie (Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead) and Zahra Newman (Cat on a Hot Tin Roof) taking on every single role between them in a triumvirate of power of which the long-dead would-be emperor would surely approve. We join the drama just as restless daggers are being sharpened, with Caesar’s many military victories no means to allay fears that the power has gone to his increasingly swollen head. It’s the birth of the Roman Empire, for sure, but *SPOILERS* he ain’t gonna live to see it.

  • Theatre
  • Drama
  • Darlinghurst

Content warning: this article mentions themes of sexual violence

Theatre may have wandered off for a while there in Sydney, but it's back with a bang at Griffin Theatre Company with Wherever She Wanders from award-winning playwright Kendall Feaver (The Almighty Sometimes).

Turn on the news recently and there’s a fair chance you’ll have seen one of several shocking reports on the disturbing culture festering in our universities. This bold new drama tackles the nature of the beast head on. Set in one of Australia’s oldest residential colleges, as far as the public knows, scandal doesn’t happen here. But what goes on behind closed mahogany doors tells a different story, and abundant coffers can cover up all sorts of unsavoury goings on. That gets complicated when resident student and aspiring journalist Nikki Gonçalves (Emily Havea) interviews Jo Mulligan (Fiona Press), the first female Master in the college’s hundred-year history and the person who writes those ‘never happened’ cheques. 

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  • Theatre
  • Drama
  • Kirribilli

We may be emerging from long, dark, cold nights and blinking into the oncoming summer of unlock, but it is also almost Halloween. The perfect time, then, for revisiting terrifying British horror story The Woman in Black. It's re-opening in the unnervingly intimate surrounds of Ensemble Theatre on October 30, just in time for the spooky season.

The original novel by Susan Hill, published in 1983, relays the eerie tale of a young lawyer haunted by the memory of his supernatural experience while dealing with the estate of the late Mrs. Drablow, who died alone in the desolate surrounds of Eel Marsh House. The stage play, adapted by Stephen Mallatratt, went on to terrify audiences on London’s West End, where it soon became the second-longest show to ever run there. Now Sydneysiders have another chance to test if they have the mettle to make it through without screaming. Mark Kilmurry directs this staging with Rachel Chant as assistant director. Jamie Oxenbould (Baby Doll) is the lawyer Mr Kipps, and Garth Holcombe (Tribes) is the actor he hires to tell his tale and hopefully exorcise his demons.

  • Theatre
  • Drama
  • Darlington

Content warning: this article mentions themes of sexual violence

Award-winning playwright Suzie Miller drew on her experiences as a lawyer for Prima Facie, the hugely succesful, hard-hitting one-woman play that takes a searing hot, clear-eyed look at the Australian legal system, sexual consent laws and their effects on victims. Sheridan Harbridge stars as Tessa, a criminal lawyer at the top of her game who knows the law permits no room for emotion, with this production speaking directly to an all-too-familiar reality where one in three women experience some form of sexual assault, and the law’s delivery of ‘justice’ fails to account for the deep imbalances of power and gender. Former Griffin artistic director Lee Lewis retruns to helm the show.

Our reviewer said. "Prima Facie gives a platform for a woman to speak her truth, asking us to look beyond first impressions and to dig deeper into the very structures and procedures that embed underlying injustices. This is an urgent and compelling work."

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  • Theatre
  • Drama
  • Millers Point

Sydney Theatre Company (STC) breathes new life into one of Great American Plays this summer as Polish-born, Australia-based actor Jacek Koman steps into Willy Loman’s worn out shoes in Death of a Salesman, bringing with him abundant gravitas to this tale of a man searching for meaning on the road. As directed by Paige Rattray, the beloved ballad of broken dreams runs December 3 -23 and features a powerhouse cast including Josh McConville as Willy’s oldest son Biff, Callan Colley as younger son Happy, Helen Thomson as loving wife Linda, Philip Quast as ghostly Uncle Ben, and Bruce Spence and Thuso Lekwape as neighbours Charley and Bernard. Willy and his family must tear through the illusions they’ve been fed by modern America and work out the things that really matter.Tickets go live on October 11.

  • Theatre
  • Drama
  • Newtown

Alice Sebold’s mega-bestselling book The Lovely Bones comes to brilliant life at New Theatre this year. Running from November 23 to December 18, this adaptation by Bryony Lavery is a coming-of-age drama with a pretty hefty twist. Typical 14-year-old Susie Salmon is dead. Taken far too soon by a terrible monster of a so-called human. And yet the spark of who she was remains, watching her destroyed family try to pick up the pieces from beyond the veil. 

Sebold turned the horror-thriller trope of a crime and its aftermath into an elegiac meditation on life, love and loss, all of which appeals to director Deborah Mulhall (Pygmalion, The Lieutenant of Inishmore). “Sebold’s novel is a profoundly insightful study of a life unlived,” she says. “Last year I stumbled across Bryony Lavery’s stage adaptation and brought it to the attention of Louise Fischer, artistic director of New Theatre. I’m thrilled that I’ve been entrusted to guide it to the stage.”

 

Musicals

  • Theatre
  • Musicals
  • Surry Hills

Pantos, as they are more affectionately known in the UK, are renowned for fielding massive stars in super-camp stagings of (usually) fairytales, with lots of gender fluidity, booing at bad guys and general audience hilarity. This fresh take from Calamity Jane star Virginia Gay deploys 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.

Gay, who also wrote the work and co-directs with Richard Carroll (Once) will be joined on stage by Zoe Terakes (Wentworth, Nine Perfect Strangers) Deborah Galanos (Stop Girl), Rob Johnson (Calamity Jane), Billy McPherson (Battle of Waterloo), Mary Soudi (Packed to the Rafters), Hamed Sadeghi (Sami in Paradise) and Toby Truslove (Home, I’m Darling). It features new songs from Eddie Perfect as well as Aussie pub rock classics sprinkled in with old-fashioned silliness. Expect singing, dancing, booing and saucy antics. Tickets start from $33 and are on sale now, and be warned, Gay knows how to sell out the house, so make like a panto villain and pounce.

  • Theatre
  • Musicals
  • Darling Harbour

This is your second shot at seeing the smash-hit American history musical that won a whopping 11 Tony Awards and a Pulitzer Prize when it debuted on Broadway in 2015. 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. The Australian cast is extraordinary, with every dance move sharp as a tack and the constantly shifting stage a whirlwind of activity. Seeing it all click together like a precision-built Swiss watch is intoxicating.

There are genuine thrills from the first notes to the final bows. Jason Arrow is electrifying in the titular role, but Hamilton really is a two-hander, with Hamilton’s best frenemy Aaron Burr at least as large a presence as Alexander. Lyndon Watts is magnetic in the role, pulling focus in every scene he’s in. He has the perfect mixture of jealousy, desperation and reckless self-aggrandisement to put real pathos into tragedy. There’s gorgeous beauty in the key song ‘Dear Theodosia’ that is genuinely moving. Chloé Zuel is also extraordinary as Hamilton’s wife, Eliza. The more familiar with it, the more you’ll get out of it. So you’re just going to have to go again.

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  • Theatre
  • Musicals
  • Sydney

After becoming a surprise West End hit and making its sold-out Australian premiere at the Sydney Opera House in January 2020 – crowned with a four-star review from Time Out – Six the Musical is back in town just in time for summer. Much like Hamilton before it, the pop musical is making history buffs out of legions of musical theatre tragics, telling the story of the six ill-fated wives of Henry VIII. The premise of the show is sort of hilarious: all six wives are members of a pop band that is trying to decide who should be the lead singer. It's basically a pop concert in which all six spouses compete to determine who had the worst time with the infamous Tudor king, and who should therefore be the Beyoncé of the sextet.

This remix runs from December 19 and stars Phoenix Jackson Mendoza (American Idiot), Kala Gare (Bright Star), Loren Hunter (American Psycho), Kiana Daniele (Company) and Vidya Makan (Merrily We Roll Along) and Chelsea Dawson (Shrek the Musical). Together, they're a little bit Spice Girls, a little bit Destiny's Child, and a little bit Little Mix, with a set of songs inspired by the pop bangers of today.Tickets go on sale October 8 and you can join the waitlist for tickets here. Get ready to have a royally good time.

 

  • Theatre
  • Musicals
  • Elizabeth Bay

Fans of ‘80s rock will be excited about the Australian premiere of Head Over Heels. The jukebox musical opening at the Hayes Theatre on February 18, 2022 deploys bangers from legendary all-woman band The Go-Go’s, like ‘We Got the Beat’ and ‘Our Lips Are Sealed’ with a side serve of Belinda Carlisle’s stratospheric solo career, including the anthemic ‘Heaven is a Place on Earth’. Though if you’re expecting it to be a biopic about their rollicking adventures on the road, you might be in for a surprise. It’s actually a loose adaptation of epic poem Arcadia, written by Sir Philip Sidney towards the end of the 16th century. Yep, it’s kinda trippy.

Conceived by Jeff Whitty, who wrote the original book, it was then adapted by James Magruder and relays the story of the King and Queen of Arcadia who defy bad news from the oracle and kind of go on the run with the kids. What unfolds is a raucous story of family drama that’s ultimately about embracing the real you, whatever your true identity may be. Aaron Tsindos (Merrily We Roll Along, Muriel’s Wedding) wears the king's crown, with Lena Cruz (Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Playing Beatie Bow), as the queen. Laura Bunting (Gypsy, Rent) and Jenni Little (School of Rock, High Fidelity) play their daughters, with Lauren Cheok (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) as their handmaiden. Daniel Gabriel (The Moth Effect, Two Weeks with the Queen) will hold court as the oracle.

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  • Theatre
  • Musicals
  • Haymarket

There is something perfect about Come From Away finally (re)landing in Sydney. 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. But Come From Away is not just an Important Musical for Our Times, it's also a whole lot of rollicking good fun. The music is fantastic, heavily influenced by Irish folk rock. The cast is small, just a dozen people to play every role. It is truly an ensemble piece. Zoe Gertz performs the show's most soaring song in 'Me and the Sky' as Beverley Bass, the first female captain of an American Airlines plane, who happened to be one of the pilots diverted to Gander. She's spectacular, but so is everyone.

  • Theatre
  • Musicals
  • Elizabeth Bay

After just one preview performance before Sydney's second lockdown ground production to a halt, the beloved Hayes' production of Merrily We Roll Along is step-kicking back onto the stage from October 21. They say pop will eat itself, and the same is certainly true for Broadway. Everyone loves a show about putting on a show. Stephen Sondheim and George Furth’s musical is one of the very best of the self-referential showbiz shows. Adapting and updating a 1939 play by George S Kaufman and Moss Hart, the show depicts the story of a man called Franklin Shepard, a composer who has chucked in a gig writing musicals to produce Hollywood movies instead. It grapples with the price of success and those that get left behind. 

Hayes Theatre Co will present a razzle-dazzle take on the fabulous show that traces Franklin's life backwards, from movie-making fame to the Broadway game, depicting how he became the man he is today. Emerging talent Andrew Coshan (Jersey Boys) will play Franklin. He’ll be joined by Everybody Loves Lucy star Elise McCann and Xanadu lead Ainsley Melham, alongside a cast including Georgina Hopson (West Side Story) and Aaron Tsindos (Muriel’s Wedding). They’ll be directed by one of Australian musical theatre’s finest, Dean Bryant (Little Shop of Horrors), collaborating with choreographer Andrew Hallsworth and musical director Andrew Worboys.

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  • Theatre
  • Musicals
  • Sydney

If you're an Alanis stan who has been singing ‘All I Really Want’ since they announced, and then postponed, the arrival of Morissette’s hit musical Jagged Little Pill in Sydney, then do we have some massive news for you. Rogue Traders and Neighbours alumna Natalie Bassingthwaighte – the beloved star of musical hits including Chicago, Chess, Grease, Rent and more – will now, in wonderful surprise news, star in a limited sneak peek of the hit show this summer.

Opening at the Theatre Royal from December 2-19, it will mark the grand reopening of the joint following a swish multimillion-dollar refurbishment. Tickets are on sale now. Bassingthwaighte, who is also soon to appear on cinema screens playing Elvis’ step-mum in Baz Luhrmann’s upcoming biopic starring Tom Hanks, is stoked to take on the lead role of under-pressure Mary Jane Healy in this musical drama that weaves in Morissette’s biggest songs from the smash hit album Jagged Little Pill.

Dance

  • Things to do
  • Fairs and festivals
  • Millers Point

For the first time ever, Bangarra Dance Theatre and Sydney Theatre Company (STC) will join forces to stage the world premiere of Wudjang: Not the Past. The epic new work will bow athe Roslyn Packer Theatre during Sydney Festival 2022, so that’s three titans, actually. Running from January 14 to February 12, it brings together Bangarra’s majestic dancers with beloved actors including Elaine Crombie (The 7 Stages of Grieving), Trevor Jamieson (Storm Boy) and Justin Smith (Pirates of the Caribbean). Helpmann Award-winning music director Alan John will lead acclaimed musicians Brendon Boney, Amaru Derwent, Jess Hitchcock (Victorian Opera’s Parrwang Lifts the Sky), Tessa Nuku and Véronique Serret (Heartland).

Hailed as a contemporary corroboree, Wudjang: Not the Past fuses movement, Mibinyah poetry, storytelling and live music. Yugambeh man Bilin discovers the bones of his ancestor Wudjang while working on a dam excavation in the deep darkness just before dawn. Taking her bones home, he learns that she longs to be reburied the proper way and help guide Bilin, alongside her companion spirit Gurai.With the show directed and choreographed Bangarra’s artistic director Stephen Page, who co-writes alongside award-winning playwright Alana Valentine (Bangarra’s Bennelong, Barbara and the Camp Dogs), consider us already convinced that this is going to one of the hottest tickets of the summer.

Family-friendly shows

  • Theatre
  • Comedy
  • Sydney

Thanks to the Sydney Opera House, kids won’t miss out on all the fun of the Grand Unlock. Little rascal Grug will take to the stage just in time for Christmas – peak excitement overload for tiny tots. Starting life as the tip of a Burrawang tree that fell over and set him on his merry way, he’s had all sorts of magical adventures ever since, as lovingly brought to life in the whimsical picture books of children’s author Ted Prior. Fascinated by the world, Grug makes his way solving everyday problems without any fuss, which is the perfect lesson for kids who have spent way too much time indoors of late and may benefit from some gentle reassurance that things are going to be alright. That includes creating his own dance move ‘The Grug’ when instructions are a bit too complicated. And when cheeky snails gobble all his cabbages, he’s such a good egg he just plants more for everyone.

Presented in conjunction with Windmill Theatre Company productions, they have been touring Grug shows for over a decade now. So trust us, it’s the perfect summer fun for families looking to encourage a new generation of theatre lovers.

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