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The full cast of 9 to 5 the musical
Photograph: David Hooley

Theatre and musicals in Sydney this week

Got a free night up your sleeve and fancy some culture? These are the shows on stage for the next seven days

Written by
Time Out editors
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There are an overwhelming number of things to do in Sydney in any given week – let alone theatre. If you want to plan ahead, check out our guide to what's on stage this month. For now, here's our picks of the best shows to see this week.

Note: in light of evolving Covid conditions, many events across Sydney are being postponed, rescheduled or cancelled. Things are changing rapidly. Always check ahead with the event organiser to see if an event or venue you're planning to attend is still open, and what precautions and conditions of entry are in place.  

  • Theatre
  • Sydney

Opera Australia's enduring and much-loved production of La Bohème celebrates its 200thperformance with its returns to the Sydney Opera House this summer. La Bohème premiered in 1896 and quickly ascended into the pantheon of the greatest operas of all time. The story of a poor seamstress, Mimi, and her bohemian friends is set in Paris around 1830, but Opera Australia’s production, directed by Gale Edwards, changes the setting to Berlin in the 1930s, with lavish costumes and set design that capture all the decadence and glamour of the Weimar Republic, with red velvet curtains, fishnets and boho threads.  The opera is a famously heart-tugging show, with big melodies – ‘Musetta’s Waltz' in Act Two is the tune to listen out for, as well as the famous double-dose back-to-back arias 'Che Gelida Manina' and 'Mi Chiamano Mimi'. Puccini’s tragic opera was also the inspiration for the musical Rent and a key influence on the film and musical Moulin Rouge. This production was created for Opera Australia's 2011 season and it has proved a popular hit. It’s the ideal entry point opera for newbies, and a classic production for aficionados too.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Theatre
  • Comedy
  • Sydney

It’s no secret that the “one-woman show” is in its Fleabag era. Like the avid  little theatre critic that I am, I saw at least five one-person shows in the latter half of 2022 (and tried my best not to tire of them). At fringe festivals across the world, confessional monologues written and performed by women are being lumped into the Fleabag category by critics and audiences alike (despite them only featuring a woman and some trauma). Any form of entertainment that features a woman making a wryly funny aside is eagerly compared to Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s uncanny style. It was only a matter of time, then, before someone decided to bring a meta-theatrical parody sending up the old “confessional monologue” to the Sydney Opera House. And boy, does Liz Kingsman bring it. The Australian writer and performer’s One Woman Show was received on the West End with wild enthusiasm, and now she’s brought this show-within-a-show back to home shores to show us what all the fuss is about. In One Woman Show, Kingsman is messy, funny, and sexy – just like her unnamed counterpart in the monologue she performs as she tells us she’s performing it, hilariously named Wildfowl. The parallels to Fleabag are difficult to escape – with Kingsman dressed in a striped t-shirt and a black jumpsuit, like this scene of the tv show, and a singular red chair placed in the centre of the stage, like the original stage version. But this is not a “take-down” of Fleabag or a “warning” for those of us embracing our mes

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  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Theatre
  • Drama
  • price 2 of 4
  • Millers Point

If you haven't yet seen what we've hailed “one of the greatest performances ever seen on an Australian stage” – we urge you to secure your tickets before it's too late. As Sydney Theatre Company returns to full force with its 2023 season, this epic take on Oscar Wilde's macabre classic is back in the Harbour City for a strictly limited season from February 3-18, 2023.  Eryn Jean Norvill dons the blond coiffed wig again as she plays all 26 characters in Kip Williams' cine-theatre adaptation – you've never seen theatre done like this before. This is your last chance to see Dorian Gray in the city where it all began before it heads off to tour internationally with super producer Michael Cassel. Read on for our five-star review. In recent years, the artistic director of the Sydney Theatre Company, Kip Williams, has deftly explored an intersection between the cinematic and theatrical, creating productions on the bleeding edge of stagecraft that bridge the liminal space between these two modes of storytelling. In 2016, his treatment of Strindberg’s shocking tale of lust, femininity and power, Miss Julie, was a pathfinder of sorts, trialling the technical wizardry required to fuse real-time video and live performance. In 2019, he pushed the experiment further still, with a thrilling film noir take on Brecht's anti-fascist parable The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui. Indeed, that show was so jaw-droppingly sophisticated, it seemed Williams had mined all he could from this interplay of

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Theatre
  • Dawes Point

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a work of theatre that hits all the right notes – that is, a balance of references to both timeless works of literature as well as local goings-on, smattered with shocks of laughter and high drama – is at once more life affirming and delightful than anything you can watch on a screen. Drawing on Jane Austen’s drawing room dramas, this outrageous satire set in the post-plebiscite Harbour City is a knowing and loving lampooning of gay Sydney, suburban Australia and period dramas. But Hubris & Humiliation doesn’t merely lean on the laughs, of which there are many. This brand spankin’ new Australian play props up its tongue-in-cheek humour on a foundation of engaging drama and cultural references. After all, it takes a certain intellectual quality of theatre to get away with lines like “It's just a little prostate tickle, I can live without it!” on the esteemed stage of the Sydney Theatre Company. When his mother Bernice (Celia Ireland of Wentworth fame, in fine form) is left destitute by a dodgy suitor, Elliott (Roman Delo, Bump) a naive wallflower from the Sunshine State, is packed off to Sydney to find a suitably wealthy man to marry. As his estranged uncle Roland (veteran actor Andrew McFarlance, who absolutely eats up the scenery in the role of a wealthy elder gay) attempts to show him the ropes, it could actually be perky young pink-haired workmate Chantel (Henrietta Enyonam Amevor) who has a better grasp of the gay dating scene o

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  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Theatre
  • Musicals
  • Parramatta

After taking Sydney and Melbourne by storm, this bonafide '90s musical is returning to Sydney for a saucy encore season as it saunters along a 2023 east coast tour. It shouldn't work, and yet, this so-wrong-it's-right show rips the script from a problematic favourite '90s flick, injects it with a jukebox full of era-appropriate pop hits, and turns out a hell of a good night at the theatre. Cruel Intentions: The ’90s Musical is bringing its best boy band dance moves to the stage at Riverside Theatres in Parramatta from February 2 to 12. Tickets are on sale now. Read on for our four-star review of this sexy, pop-powered production: The wigs look inescapably like cheap, shiny party store fodder. For the most part, the actors all look conspicuously older than the teenagers they’re portraying. The lines between irony and sincerity are so blurred that it's impossible to know if this a magnificent work of satire or a so-bad-it's-good guilty pleasure. But either way, we were here for campy, schlocky, corny, daggy brilliance of Cruel Intentions: The ’90s Musical. If you’re ready for some laugh-out-loud ridiculousness and theatrical takes on throwback hits, this could be just what you’re after.  As a film, Cruel Intentions treads a complicated path. This raunchy thriller about teens either having sex with each other, or trying to convince other people to have sex with them, got hearts racing on its release in 1999. It was an era where the studios were really into mining old, old storie

  • Dance
  • Dawes Point

The creation of a piece of live theatre requires seismic precision towards a defined vision. It’s not enough to simply have the vision, one has to be able to communicate clearly to a team of creatives charged with bringing the vision to life. If just one element of choreography, movement, set design, lighting and sound is not executed to its full potential, your intended message may not reach your audience. The opportunity to execute a vision is rarely afforded to dancers, at least not without significant constraints, and yet it is an integral part of the transition to the role of creative or artistic director.  Bangarra Dance Theatre’s newest artistic director, Frances Rings is aware of that. She begins her tenure by handing over the stage to the next generation of emerging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander creatives through the Dance Clan artistic development program. ...each piece could not be further from Bangarra’s established stylistic identity The show by the same name not only showcases three short 15-minute pieces from the country’s most talented emerging First Nations choreographers – Sani Townson (Kulka), Glory Tuohy-Daniell (Keeping Grounded) and Ryan Pearson (5 Minute Call) – but also features emerging production artists who have been mentored through the program. There’s composers Brendon Boney and Amy Flannery, set designer Shana O’Brien, costume designer Clair Parker, lighting designer Karen Norris and AV designer Joshua Yasserie. It’s clear from the momen

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  • Theatre
  • Redfern

Think Jay Gatsby hosted the best roaring '20s parties? Not anymore. It’s time to crack open some Champagne and celebrate the return of the scintillating smash-hit show Blanc de Blanc Encore from the production company and creative force Strut & Fret. This adults-only experience is a bit fancy, a bit bubbly and super boozy. After its record-breaking premiere at the Sydney Opera House in 2019, Blanc de Blanc Encore sold out to standing ovations nationwide. The dazzling performance now returns to Sydney this summer to kick off proceedings at brand new cabaret and circus venue the Grand Electric, 199 Cleveland Street, Surry Hills. Does that address sound familiar? That's because it's the original home of the comedy and performance hub the Giant Dwarf, may it rest in peace.  Catch the show at this exciting new theatre and transport yourself back to the glitz and glamour of 1920s Paris to experience a world of high-class cabaret, dance numbers, artistic acrobatics, and risqué revelry.  Expect a star-studded cast from around the world, such as Cirque du Soleil alumni like aerial duo Spencer Craig (Canada) and Caitlin Marion (USA), as well as newer faces such as Emma Phillips (New Zealand) and Léah Wolff (Canada). Audience members are encouraged to embrace the experience with open arms, the dress code is, naturally: white with a touch of sparkle. Blanc de Blanc Encore is in Sydney from January 7 to March 4, 2023. To book tickets and for more information, visit the website. Thirsty f

  • Theatre
  • Sydney

Australian circus company Gravity & Other Myths is bringing Berlin’s casual unorthodoxy to the Sydney Opera House after the world premiere of cabaret show The Mirror in Germany. Expect an entwinement of acrobatics, an exhilarating soundscape and, of course, bodies. This titilating performance utilises props like an LED screen, live cameras and selfie sticks to offer social commentary on the extremities of self presentation and image. This contemporary troupe is characterised by their authentic and cheeky storytelling, so you can expect nuance in their exploration of identity in a New Media age.  For the first time, the aerials and choreography will be accompanied by live music. Award-winning composer and performer Ekrem Eli Phoenix traverses electronic compositions and pop mash-ups for the duration of the show, only adding to the gasp-inducing atmosphere.  Prepare to walk away at the end of the night in deep reflection of the self, and with sheer appreciation of the potential of the human body. You can look into The Mirror at Sydney Opera House’s Studio Theatre from February 9 to March 5. Tickets start at $96 + booking fee.  Want more? Check out the best shows to see in Sydney this month.

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  • Theatre
  • Musicals
  • Darling Harbour

Sydney, we can hear the bells, and they bring good news – the nicest kids in town will be here when the original Tony Award-winning Broadway production of Hairspray opens in the Harbour City this February.  Long-admired director Jack O’Brien (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) and choreographer Jerry Mitchell (Kinky Boots) lead a Broadway creative team, with Shane Jacobson (Kenny, Oddball, Guys and Dolls) fulfilling a lifelong dream by starring as beloved housewife Edna Turnblad. The role was originated by drag superstar Divine in John Waters' original cult 1988 film, before going on to be played by the legendary Harvey Fierstein on Broadway and by John Travolta in the 2007 film remake.  Jacobson joins Aussie stars Todd McKenney and Rhonda Burchmore. After playing Corny Collins in the Melbourne run, Rob ‘Millsy’ Mills passed on the baton to Bobby Fox (Jersey Boys) for the Sydney leg. Set in 1962 in Baltimore, Maryland, Hairspray tells the story of dance-loving teenager Tracy Turnblad whose ultimate dream is to dance on The Corny Collins Show. When her dream comes true, Tracy is transformed from social outcast to sudden star and she must use her newfound power to dethrone the reigning Teen Queen. Our Melbourne reviewer was singing Hairspray’s praises back in August, noting that the dancing in this production is “flawlessly executed and with a level of energy that was simultaneously infectious and tiring to watch”. Hairspray plays at the Sydney Lyric Theatre from February 5 to

  • Theatre
  • Drama
  • Kirribilli

Ensemble Theatre presents the world premiere of A Broadcast Coup by Melanie Tait, the writer of the sell-out The Appleton Ladies’ Potato Race.  Tait has collaborated with director Janine Watson (Nearer The Gods, Still Unqualified) and a cast of talented actors and top creatives to produce a performance that will not only make you laugh hysterically, but think about some real issues.  This play casts a light on the all-too-familiar issues that can come up in any workplace, delving into abuse of power and lack of accountability from controversial public figures and sparking some much-needed debate. Cut-throat journalist Jez Connell has brought down one of TV’s most lauded stars for behaving badly. A Broadcast Coup follows her as she investigates Michael King, the top-rated darling of public radio.  “This play draws on my decade-plus working in the media – from things I would see and hear across networks and, to be honest, just thought were part of working in that arena. It was only after the #MeToo reckoning I began to see that some behaviour was unacceptable and could even change,” said Tait. Covid delays mean that the opening of this play has been a long time coming, but the wait has surely been worth it.  A Broadcast Coup runs from January 26 to March 4, 2023. Tickets are still available right now, and you can snatch one up by clicking right here.

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