Read about The Book of Mormon's $40 ticket lottery. In 2011, when The Book of Mormon first opened in New York City, it was a risky bet. It’s notoriously difficult for original shows to survive on Broadway – roughly four out of five shows fail to turn a profit – and a parody of religious fervour, packed with anarchic, puerile humour, written by ‘the South Park guys’, Trey Parker and Matt Stone? Not a sure thing. Their co-writer, Robert Lopez, had won a Tony and a Grammy Award for his subversive puppet musical Avenue Q, but repeat success wasn’t guaranteed. But as we now know, it was an immediate hit. Not even celebrities were guaranteed tickets, and prices skyrocketed to meet demand. Its cast recording was the highest-charting musical album in over forty years, until Hamilton smashed all records. Its two lead actors – Andrew Rannells and Josh Gad – booked sitcoms and Disney movies. In the seven years since, Robert Lopez has not only won the EGOT (the full complement of Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony Awards) in the shortest amount of time for any recipient, he’s the only person in the world to EGOT twice. The show has toured all over the US, has a long-running production in the West End, and recently opened in Sweden. So is it worth all of the fuss? Does it still hold up in 2018? The answer is yes. We follow two young Mormon missionaries, Type-A Narcissist Elder Price (Ryan Bondy) and Elder Cunningham (AJ Holmes), a mess with a geeky streak, as they’re paired up for their tw
It was near impossible to get a ticket to the Hayes Theatre production of Calamity Jane as soon as it opened. Thanks to hilarious and immersive staging, and a brilliantly funny performance from Virginia Gay, the show attracted rave reviews and word of mouth so strong that the entire season sold out in just a few days. Thankfully Belvoir is bringing the show back to their bigger theatre with its original cast. Read our four-star review of the original Hayes Theatre season: Musical theatre is almost embarrassingly sincere. While there are exceptions, on the whole its resolutely innocent humour and reverence for even the corniest, most dated classics can make it hard to get on board the all-singing, all-dancing, all-feeling train. One of the worst examples of the genre is Calamity Jane, the cringe-worthy little sister to Annie Get Your Gun. Originally a movie musical vehicle for Doris Day back in 1953 it’s a sweet little Western about a real-life rough and tumble woman, though the musical removes any remaining traces of grit from her story; she learns to become more of a “lady” so she can be happy in love. It’s toothless and meandering and too cute for words; while it was adapted for the stage in the early 1960s, not even Broadway, the natural home of musical theatre cheese, has ever put Calamity Jane in one of its theatres. Thankfully, Richard Carroll’s new production of the show (which was originally conceived as a staged reading as part of the Neglected Musicals series
If you've ever seen the Tom Hanks-Meg Ryan film You've Got Mail, then you know the basic story of the 1963 musical, She Loves Me. That's because both were based on the same Hungarian play, Parfumerie, by Miklos Laszlo (although the musical doesn't feature quite as many emails – it's set in 1934). She Loves Me follows two sworn enemies who have fallen deeply in love with their pen pals. What they don't realise is that they are actually each other's pen pal. The show has got serious Broadway pedigree, with a score by Sheldon Harnick and Jerry Bock (the pair behind Fiddler on the Roof), and a book by Joe Masteroff (who wrote the book for Cabaret). The Hayes Theatre production will be directed by Erin James, a veteran musical theatre performer who's turning her hand to directing. Rowan Witt (The Book of Morman) and Caitlin Berry (South Pacific) will lead the cast.
Last in Sydney in 2010, Broadway smash Jersey Boys is back in 2018 with an Australian cast led by Bernard Angel (playing Frankie Valli), Cameron MacDonald, Thomas McGuane and Glaston Toft (reprising his role as bassist Nick Massi). In our 2010 review, we wrote: A loving recreation of the beginnings of the band, their hits, their behind-the-scenes antics and bitter rivalries, it's a riveting and tightly worked homage. More importantly, it's an engrossing story that traces the story of four boys from New Jersey through their struggle for recognition, underworld entanglements and exponential rise to stardom. It also covers the deep rifts that formed over money, women and personal differences.For long-time fans the tunes and attendant storyline will be familiar, but it also works as an introduction for yet-to-be fans – it may be a surprise to younger audience members that 'Oh, What a Night' is sung by the same band as 'Can't Take My Eyes off You' and 'Walk Like a Man'. It may also surprise that their clean-cut image masked some gritty realities – this may have been the era of Leave it to Beaver, but these boys have more in common with the Sopranos (salty language included). The story is in four parts, each narrated by one of the original band members. The usual pitfall with the jukebox musical is that the songs are but tenuously related to the storyline, and often come off as contrived (because they are). Using the songs of a band to tell its own fascinating story, as this one
Move over My Fair Lady: the next vintage production coming to Australia is the original Evita, with Australian pop princess Tina Arena starring as Eva Perón. Opera Australia and John Frost are collaborating to revive the 1978 West End production of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s blockbuster musical, directed by Tony Award-gobbling musical theatre veteran Harold Prince. Appearing alongside Arena is a starry international cast: as Juan Peron is Brazilian operatic baritone Paulo Szot, who won a Tony Award for his performance in the 2008 Broadway revival of South Pacific. London-based Australian performer Kurt Kansley will play Che, the narrator, while Wicked star Jemma Rix will play Eva on Wednesday evenings. (It's traditional that there's an 'alternate Eva' scheduled for certain performances each week given the almighty vocal challenges of the role.) Conceived as a concept album in 1976, Evita tells the story of Argentine political figure Eva Perón, who when she died at 33 from cancer had become one of the most powerful women in Latin America – and thereafter was afforded an almost saintly status. Following its 1978 premiere on the West End (with Elaine Paige in the title role), the musical went on to win the Olivier Award for best musical and transferred to Broadway (where Patti LuPone took on the role), where it was the first British musical to win the Tony Award for best musical. In 1996, Madonna starred in the film adaptation of the musical. The Australian revival w
Just three years after he opened his globe-conquering megahit, The Phantom of the Opera, Andrew Lloyd Webber premiered a musical that defied his audience's expectations. Aspects of Love is an intimate piece focusing on the relationship between an actress called Rose and a young student Alex, who becomes obsessed with her while travelling through France. It's based on a David Garnett novella of the same name and takes place across 17 years. It also features one of ALW's most best-known songs: 'Love Changes Everything'. The original West End production, directed by Trevor Nunn, wasn't exactly what you'd call a flop (it ran for three years, starting in 1989) but it didn't quite reach the same heights as other Lloyd Webber shows. But in the years since it's been given more intimate treatments, which is what inspired director Andrew Bevis to reimagine the work for the Hayes Theatre. "Aspects came right after Miss Saigon and Les Mis – there were barricades on stage and big helicopters – and it wasn’t overlooked but a little pushed aside because it wasn’t in the world of those mega-musicals," says Bevis. "It can now be looked at for what it was." Bevis and co-producer Nathan M. Wright are bringing an orchestra of 12 to the intimate Hayes Theatre and have now announced their full cast. Lloyd Webber's production company, Really Useful Group, has been intimately involved in the casting process and is overseeing the production from London. Playing Alex, the young student role origin
From January 2019 Sydney audiences will step into a world of pure imagination with the new musical version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The show, which just wrapped up a three year run on the West End and a short stint on Broadway, is opening at the Capitol Theatre early in the new year. The musical is based more on Roald Dahl's 1964 book than the beloved 1971 film, but does feature a couple of the songs you know and love, including 'Pure Imagination', 'Candy Man' and 'I've Got a Golden Ticket'. The rest of the music is penned by Scott Wittman and Marc Shaiman, who are best known for writing the score for the musical Hairspray. You already know the plot: the eccentric master chocolatier Willy Wonka opens up his mysterious factory to four young children, looking for an heir to take over the kingdom. Four of the children have been spoiled rotten and *spoiler alert* suffer horrible fates inside the factory – Augustus gets sucked up a tube after gorging himself on chocolate, Violet turns into a giant blueberry, Mike's TV addiction gets the best of him and Veruca gets her comeuppance via squirrel – but the poor, young Charlie Bucket manages to prove his integrity. The musical was an audience favourite in London, but received a cooler reception in New York, where it got mixed reviews. Time Out New York's critic wasn't the greatest fan – you can read his two-star review here. The Broadway production was directed by triple Tony Award winner Jack O'Brien, who will helm
Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour has been going strong for seven years now, bringing a touch of spectacle – and a boatload of fireworks – to Sydney each autumn. But things will be a little different in 2019 as the company steps away from the operatic repertoire with its first outdoor musical, West Side Story. Leonard Bernstein's score is about as operatic and sophisticated as musical theatre gets, meaning the show has long been performed by opera companies. Opera Australia artistic director Lyndon Terracini said: “I’ve always loved West Side Story, it’s one of the greatest pieces ever written, and I’ve been wanting to include it in the Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour repertoire since we started the program seven years ago. “The setting is perfect, with the city skyline in the background, you won’t get a better stage backdrop in the world, and I’ve said from the start, if a piece is right, then we’ll do it, we don’t want to be bound by preconceptions.” For this new production, Opera Australia is reuniting two members of the dream team behind La Traviata, the first ever Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour in 2012: American director Francesca Zambello and veteran Australian set designer Brian Thomson (who's designed everything from the stage version of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert to the first ever production of The Rocky Horror Show). Tony will be played by Alexander Lewis, who recently won rave reviews in the company's The Merry Widow, and Maria will be Julie Lea Goodwin, who previo
Sydney, Muriel has arrived. With an updated book by original screenwriter PJ Hogan and music by pop intelligentsia Kate Miller-Heidke and Keir Nuttall, Muriel’s Wedding the Musical will leave you smiling for days. Directed by our finest big-picture showman Simon Phillips, this is the film-to-stage adaptation critics, audiences and creatives dream of: an updated and evolved version of the original story that stands proudly as its own creation. Muriel (Maggie McKenna, in an astonishing debut) is the outcast in the fictional, Tweed Heads-inspired coastal town of Porpoise Spit. The locals worship beach bodies and traditional gender stereotypes (the women, the ensemble chirp, don’t have any pubic hair). Muriel, who still listens to ABBA in 2017, and isn’t stick-thin or blessed with social graces, is an outsider. She’s bullied by family and friends. She hates herself, and the reality of that loathing is never downplayed, her anguish sensitively explored in numbers ‘Lucky Last’ and ‘Why Can’t That Be Me?’ Her only allies are ABBA (Jaime Hadwen, Sheridan Harbridge, Mark Hill and Aaron Tsindos) – who appear in Muriel’s times of need as her friends, confidantes, and conscience. Their magical appearances satisfyingly solve the dilemma of adapting this film into a musical: how to marry its memorable use of ABBA songs with a brand-new and contemporary score? Of course, Muriel isn’t the only person suffocating in Porpoise Spit. Her mother Betty (a heartbreaking Justine Clarke) is her
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