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Frozen Capitol Theatre Disney Sydney 2019
Photograph: Deen van MeerCaissie Levy in the original Broadway production of Frozen

Musical theatre in Sydney

Here are our picks of Sydney's biggest all-singing, all-dancing stage spectaculars

Written by
Time Out editors
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Look sharp, triple threats! Sydney is a hotbed for showstoppers, with major musicals passing through our theatres every month, including both homegrown gems and large-scale spectacle from Broadway and the West End. These are all the biggest shows that are either currently playing or coming our way in the next year or so – from Disney's latest blockbuster to the long-awaited Australian premiere of Hamilton.

RECOMMENDED: Check out our tips for scoring cheap tickets and our latest reviews of Sydney shows.

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He’s perhaps the most skilled songsmith of our age, but Sondheim is also a keen teacher. He has always sought to offer his audiences lessons through his shows, and often in the most subtextual and esoteric ways. Into the Woods warns against the unrealistic idealism of moral absolutes through a fairytale free-for-all. Sunday in the Park with George muses on the paradox that while all is fleeting, some things never change, via a post-impressionist time-hop. And the same is true in Merrily We Roll Along, a Benjamin Button of a musical in which the narrative gets younger as the show progresses, becoming a parable about the cost of success without substance. Its riffs on common tropes in thoroughly uncommon ways can be confusing on a first hearing – this was one of the reasons its original 1981 production bombed, closing after just 16 performances. But give it time and a clear directorial vision, and its temporal subtleties resurface from the subconscious. Not that this show skimps on instant gratification – this is one of Sondheim’s swingingest and, quite deliberately, most overtly Broadway scores, and in the hands of this often jaw-dropping Hayes cast, it’s rarely sounded more thrilling. But Merrily We Roll Along’s greatest rewards need a little time to take root. This is a rags to riches story of sorts but turned on its head, starting with the hard-won wealth and tracing its way back to threadbare beginnings. The show opens in 1975, at the post-premiere party for Franklin Shep
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Note: After Sydney's second city-wide lockdown, Hamilton returned to the Sydney Lyric Theatre in October. Tickets are on sale now for performances through February 27 2022.  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 Plus in July 2020, and almost 8 million more have seen it live, in cities across the US and in London’s West End. Now it’s Sydney’s turn, with the only production of the show in the world right now playing at the Lyric Theatre.  With the soundtrack available on Spotify and the original Broadway cast version available to anyone with a Disney Plus 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 hour
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There is something perfect about Come From Away finally 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. 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 news, no I can't watch the news anymore..." The feeling of helplessness, of being unable to tear yourself away from the news and of desperately wanting to do something, anything, productive is one all of us felt during the worst days of last year. 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 the Irish-inflected music that is
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Shakespeare said that all the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players. But Virginia Gay decided, actually, life is a Christmas pantomime – and all the he’s, she’s and they’s are not merely players, but also chaotic directors, stressed out production managers and eager set builders just trying to work together to create magic, meaning and sweet distraction amongst the ups and downs of life.  A pantomime within a play, that’s also a musical, The Boomkak Panto strikes the perfect balance of humility, relevance and all-singing, all-dancing ridiculous fun to see out the year that was 2021 and turn the campery of Christmas up to eleven.  Pantomimes, or pantos as they are more affectionately known in the UK, are renowned for fielding massive stars, d-listers and even school principals in super-camp stagings of (usually) fairy tales, with lots of gender fluidity, booing at bad guys, randomly inserted references and pop songs, and general audience participation madness. After witnessing a couple of British pantos for the first time at the tender age of 38, Gay roped in the team that helped her stage a critically-praised, modern queer-coded reimagining of the classic Wild West movie musical Calamity Jane to have a run at an Aussie answer to the riddle of panto. And they have absolutely nailed it. This fresh take deploys one of the most Aussie stories of all: a big developer muscling in on a small bush community that is not having a bar of it. This regional outpost la
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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 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. The whole jam-packed cast has just been announced, including musical theatre darling Maggie McKenna as Jo (best known for originating the title role in Muriel's Wedding the Musical, they also blew our socks off in Fun Home and just returned from performing in the US tour of Dear Evan Hansen), Tim Draxl as Steve Healy (television's A Place to Call Home), Aydan as Phoenix (Fangirls) and the musical theatre debut of Emily Nkomo as Frankie Healy. 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.   “I am beyond excited and privileged to be part of this incredible show,” Bassingthwaighte says. “I have such admiration for the
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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. 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. The musical was penned by young Brits Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss, and they wrote the show while they were studying at Cambridge. The original soundtrack has become a hit, having garnered more than 200 million streams worldwide since its release. As Time Out reviewer Ben Neutze said: “The success of Six lies in how well it sets its own parameters (one of which is a brisk and breathless 75-minute running time) and establishes its revue-style of storytelling
 Its strongest message is in the way it fills the stage with brilliant women (including a super tight band of three) and allows the six wives to recla
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It is a tried and tested bet that a mainstage musical based on the music of a popular recording artist will always guarantee bums in seats. And when that musical comes to Australia with the critical acclaim and adoration of sell-out seasons on the West End and Broadway, you can be sure you’re in for a bone fide hit. Enter Girl from the North Country, a charming stage show based on the songs of a living legend, the great singer-songwriter Bob Dylan.  Written and directed by multi award-winner Conor McPherson, this production debuts at the freshly reopened Theatre Royal for Sydney Festival and packs an all-star cast of local theatre darlings including stage and screen icon and multi-Gold Logie-winner Lisa McCune (King And I, South Pacific), Zahra Newman (The Book of Mormon, Wentworth), Terence Crawford (Escape from Pretoria, 1984), Helen Dallimore (Wicked [London], Legally Blonde) and Helpmann Award-winner, the legendary Peter Carroll. A story of American life in 1934 Minnesota, Girl from the North Country centres on a community living on a knife-edge in the local guesthouse: the owner, Nick, owes more money than he can ever repay, his wife Elizabeth’s mind is slowly deteriorating, and their daughter Marianne is carrying a child no-one will account for. And, when a preacher selling bibles, and a boxer looking for a comeback turn up in the middle of the night, things start to spiral beyond the point of no return. Audiences will hear the songs of Bob Dylan reimagined as you’ve ne
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There are few shows that have made as big an imprint on the landscape of musical theatre as Michael Bennett’s 1975 masterpiece A Chorus Line. The production about a group of hopeful dancers auditioning for a role on Broadway, Bennett famously created the show by interviewing real-life dancers, who spilled some extraordinary stories which made it into the final show. It went on to pick up a Pulitzer Prize and an astonishing ten Tony Awards, beating Chicago to the Best Musical gong. Darlinghurst Theatre Company’s production of A Chorus Line has been on its own journey of grit and determination. Postponed twice due to Covid lockdowns, the curtain will finally rise on this dynamic new staging at Parramatta’s Riverside Theatres as part of Sydney Festival in January, before it step-ball-changes its way over to the Sydney Opera House for a run at the Drama Theatre from February.  The legendary dance musical arrives to a fever pitch of anticipation with brilliant new choreography by director Amy Campbell. She’s assembled a fabulous ensemble cast of triple threats led by Angelique Cassimatis (American Psycho, Pippin, Priscilla Queen of the Desert). Campbell says: "These stories were based on real people and I want to show that 50 years later these stories translate across time, gender and ethnicity. Themes of bullying, racism, sexism, power and passion are still faced every day, just as they were in the 1970s. We like to think we’ve come so far, but have we?" A Chorus Line plays at Ri
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“Fuck me gently with a chainsaw,” Heathers: the Musical is coming to Darling Harbour. And before you start writing letters to the editor, that brilliantly graphic line is lifted directly from the cult classic 1989 movie starring Winona Ryder and Christian Slater as teen misfits attempting to right the wrongs of a trio of high school queen bees, all named Heather. Well, sort of. Nobody is exactly innocent in this messed-up flick. But what it lacks in clear-cut morals, it more than makes up for in a brutal barrage of killer quotes like, “what’s your damage?” So much so that folks of a certain generation are still deploying them without mercy today. It’s certainly one of the darker films to make its way to the stage in musical format, arguably only out-creeped by American Psycho. And while the musical tones down some of the more shocking elements of the plot, it remains gleefully potty-mouthed – if you're scandalised by the aforementioned quote, it might be a touch too spicy for you. “Why, now, are you pulling on my dick?” also makes the cut, just FYI. Playing at the ARA Darling Quarter Theatre from February 8 to March 5 (after a planned August run was sideswiped by Covid) this new staging has been brought to Sydney by wunderkind 19-year-old producer Mitchell Old. The cast includes big hitters Michele Lansdown (Drowsy Chaperone) and Jake Tyler (Marriage of Figaro) alongside emerging talent like Tiegan Denina in the lead role of Veronica, made infamous by Ryder, Jerrod Smith in t
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Tumble out of bed and stumble to the theatre: Dolly Parton's stage version of hit 1980 comedy 9 to 5 is finally making its Australian debut from February 16 2022. Parton fans and musical fanatics across Australia were dismayed when Sydney's 2020 season of 9 to 5 the Musical was called off. But now you can safely pour yourself a cup of ambition, because the show is officially coming to the main stage at the Capitol Theatre through to March 3. General release tickets are on sale from December 3, nab yours here. The musical features an entire score of Dolly songs, including the landmark title track '9 to 5', and follows the plot of the film pretty closely: workmates Doralee (played by Parton in the film), Violet (originally Lily Tomlin) and Judy (Jane Fonda) have been pushed to the edge by a narcissistic boss. So they hatch an elaborate plan to extract their revenge, and hilarity ensues. The book is by Patricia Resnick, who penned the film. Joining the all-new Aussie cast is one of Australia's most accomplished leading ladies, Marina Prior, who originated the role of Christine in the Aussie premiere of The Phantom of the Opera, as Violet. She is joined by musical theatre bombshell Casey Donovan as Judy (we're still reeling from her performance as Matron "Mama" Morton in Chicago), Erin Clare, who departs her role in Merrily We Roll Along to play Doralee, and international Aussie star Caroline O'Connor brings her Broadway and West End experience to busy-body Roz. Eddie Perfect wil
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There’s a bamboozle of Broadway greats coming to Sydney’s stages this summer, from the return of Lin Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton, to Natalie Bassingthwaighte in Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill, to the long-delayed touchdown of Come From Away. But fans of ‘80s rock may well be most excited about the Australian premiere of Head Over Heels. The jukebox musical 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 (Char
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Earlier this year, Sydney’s musical theatre fans were abuzz with the news that Andrew Lloyd Webber’s megahit masterpiece The Phantom of the Opera would be coming to the Sydney Opera House. Now that NSW is preparing to emerge from lockdown, Opera Australia has announced that a new production of the show is being moved to an even more famous venue: Sydney Harbour. Handa Opera on the Harbour – The Phantom of the Opera will be one of two outdoor spectaculars staged by the harbour waters by Australia’s national opera company in 2022, the second being a remount of OA’s popular production of Bizet’s Carmen, which will take place in November, for the first time on Cockatoo Island. Only a handful of brand new productions of The Phantom of the Opera have been authorised by Andrew Lloyd Webber since he penned the music more than three decades ago. This bespoke reimagining over Sydney’s big blue will not only be a world premiere but also an exclusive to the Harbour City.  Two of Australia’s most respected theatremakers – Director Simon Philips (Ladies in Black, Priscilla: The Musical) and multi-award-winning set designer Gabriela Tylesova – will be at the helm of this all-new production, which will premier on March 25, 2022, and run for one month.  Tickets are not yet for sale, but those who don’t want to miss out on what is set to be one of the biggest theatrical events of the year can join an online waitlist to be notified when the box office opens in November.
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The year 1999 was a big one for movies. The Sixth Sense, Toy Story 2 and The Matrix all came out that year, along with the appalling first Star Wars prequel. But there was one movie that excited the hearts and, er, well... of teenagers that year: sexy thriller Cruel Intentions. Based on the 1782 French novel Les Liaisons Dangereuses (which was also the basis for 1988's Dangerous Liaisons), Cruel Intentions had an all-star, all-'90s cast in Ryan Phillippe, Reese Witherspoon, Selma Blair and Sarah Michelle Gellar, at the height of her Buffy powers.  The plot is somewhat convoluted, but it involved a lot of hot, horny teenagers either sleeping with or refusing to sleep with or pretending to sleep with each other. The film's music was the soundtrack to the summer, featuring '90s artists like Counting Crows, Fatboy Slim, Marcy Playground, the Verve and Blur.  In 2015, Lindsey Rosin, Jordan Ross and the film's director, Roger Kumble, turned the story into a jukebox musical, leaning hard into '90s nostalgia (like really hard. The musical's subtitle is 'the '90s musical'). The songs are even more emblematic of the decade than the film's soundtrack was, though four of them have carried over. The setlist: 'Bye Bye Bye' (NSYNC), 'Sometimes' (Britney Spears), 'Just A Girl' (No Doubt), 'Foolish Games' (Jewel), 'Genie In A Bottle' (Christina Aguilera), 'Breakfast At Tiffany’s' (Deep Blue Something), 'Kiss Me' (Sixpence None the Richer), 'Iris' (Goo Goo Dolls), 'I’ll Make Love To You' (Boyz
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We've spoken about ghosts at the Sydney Opera House before, and the lights left on to keep them company. But now the greatest phantom of them all is set to haunt the iconic white sails. Opera Australia (OA), in association with The Really Useful Group, will strike up the discordant organ to announce, with a caped flourish, the arrival of arguably Andrew Lloyd Webber's most famous musical. Postponed, The Phantom of the Opera will now open at the Opera House on August 19, 2022. It's not to be confused with the Handa on the Harbour production also happening next year. They are two separate stagings with different cast and crew, though OA are invovled in both, not unlike their dual productions of West Side Story a few years back. The Opera House version will star Josh Piterman in the title role (and ghoulish half face mask). The Aussie star recently brought The Music of the Night to the West End, playing the Phantom in London right up until that production was forced to shut down. “Words cannot describe how I feel about being cast in this Sydney Opera House season,” Piterman says. "The role of the Phantom has truly been a lifelong dream of mine and donning the mask on the West End stage in such a legendary production was magical in every way. Experiencing the global effects of [lockdown], especially on the theatre industry over the past year, has been difficult for so many. Which makes it an even bigger honour to now be able to play the Phantom at home, helping to resurrect our i
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Sydney's fairy godmother has really come through for the city. Rodgers and Hammerstein's opulent production of Cinderella is pulling up its pumpkin carriage in the Emerald City in October 2022, bringing with it all the magic and music of the Tony Award-winning Broadway show.  The fairytale musical is known for its beautiful set, which premiered on Broadway in 2013 and was so popular that it ran for two years. What you might not realise, however, is that this production of Cinderella was originally written for television. It first aired on the small screen in 1957 starring Julie Andrews and garnered more than 100 million viewers (a record for the time). It's been remade for television several times (including notably in 1997 starring Brandy in the lead role and Whitney Houston as the Fairy Godmother), but the 2022 season marks the first time Australians have been able to see the enchanting show on local stages. The Australian season of Cinderella stars Shubshri Kandiah (Aladdin, Fangirls) as Ella/Cinderella, Ainsley Melham (Aladdin, Merrily We Roll Along) as Prince Topher, and Silvie Paladino (Mamma Mia!, Les Misérables) as Marie the Fairy Godmother. Expect a performance filled with glittering glass slippers, bewitched pumpkins and extravagant gowns, all tempered with a few unusual twists. This Cinderella is no damsel in distress and knows how to fight to make her dreams come true. Cinderella will make its Australian premiere at Melbourne's Regent Theatre on May 20, before go
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Do you believe in freedom, beauty, truth and love? Yes? Good. After a delayed but spectacular run in Melbourne, Moulin Rouge! The Musical is kicking it over to Sydney in 2022 for a run at the Capitol Theatre from May 28. The show has been getting rave reviews. Time Out Melbourne’s reviewer gave it a whopping five stars, saying: “Moulin Rouge! The Musical is every bit the “spectacular spectacular” fans have waited for, bursting onto the stage with the same visual splendour and captivating music that made Baz Luhrmann’s film such a hit.” The stage version is closely based on the film and features (almost) all of the songs you know and love, including 'Lady Marmalade', 'Come What May', 'Your Song' and a whole new version of the 'Elephant Love Medley'. There are also a whole bunch of songs in there that were released in the years following the film's 2001 release date (for example, Katy Perry's 'Firework' is in place of 'One Day I'll Fly Away'). Alongside the choreography, direction and impressive song list, critics have been particularly dazzled by the set design, which transforms the theatre into a slice of Paris at the turn of the century. It's set to do the same at the Capitol, where the major Sydney theatre will be transformed into the opulent French nightclub, complete with its very own giant windmill and huge blue elephant.  The Australian production's cast is led by Alinta Chidzey (Chicago, West Side Story) as Satine and the relatively new Des Flanagan as Christian. Our M

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