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The vivid lights shine out beneath the illuminated harbour bridge
Photograph: Supplied

The best things to do in Sydney in June

Face the frost and enjoy wonderful winter events around town

Written by
Maxim Boon
,
Elizabeth McDonald
,
Alannah Maher
&
Maya Skidmore
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This June is a big one for Sydneysiders. Vivid has triumphantly returned after a two-year hiatus, bigger and better than ever before, and a whole bunch of incredible cultural delights, like the arrival of the blockbusting musical Moulin Rouge, will be thrilling theatergoers. The huge influx of new restaurants and bars across Sydney continues apace, including the highly anticipated debut CBD branch of American burger masters Five Guys. And the world's first 'challenge room' venue is throwing open its doors in Alexandria.

But that's just for starters. Take a look at all the incredible experiences you can look forward to this June in Sydney.

Get your culture fix with our pick of the very best theatre and art to see this month.

The best of Sydney this June

  • Things to do
  • Fairs and festivals
  • Bondi

Who said Bondi was just a summer destination? After a two-year hiatus, Bondi Festival is back with three big weeks of comedy, dance, theatre and all-ages hands-on activities, plus live readings, audio walks, reflective art and encounters designed to feed your curiosity and get you out and about this winter. From July 1-17, venues both traditional and unexpected will light up across the suburb for playful and immersive theatre shows, while the beloved Bondi Vista Ferris Wheel and Bondi Festival Ice Rink also make their beachside return. Audience interactivity takes centre stage in shows like Lyre: A Theatrical Séance, which sees audiences bussed to a secret location for a hilariously terrifying group séance led by magician Harry Milas, and I Liked It, But…, where you’ll join one of Australia’s best dancers for a tongue-in-cheek pub trivia night. Over music, silly stories, vegan meat trays and a few demonstrations, Sydney Dance Company and Chunky Move choreographer Joel Bray will break down the mysteries of contemporary dance. There’s more laughs to be had over at Badlambs Barbershop with @AbuSalim, a gender-bending comedy that follows self-professed “bardic barber, Lebbo poet and ladies man” from Fairfield, Zac, as he rehearses a new activist poetry show, while at Bondi Bowlo artist Bron Batten goes on real first dates in Onstage Dating, allowing audiences to witness true love blossom (or crash and burn). For a more solitary experience Acqua Profonda: A Trilogy turns the seasi

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  • Museums
  • Haymarket

Sydney’s newest cultural institution is a designated space for the stories and contributions of Chinese Australians. The creators of MOCA, the Museum of Chinese in Australia, are encouraging visitors to throw out everything you thought you knew about museums, and step into a space that brings past, present and future together in one place.  Ahead of its grand reopening in 2023, you can check out an interactive pop-up experience at the museum space in Haymarket. Learn the story behind how MOCA came to fruition and the unifying meaning behind its purpose. The Stories of Home exhibition features prominent Chinese Australians from Sydney, who share their experiences of growing up at the intersection of two cultures, and recommendations for the best places to discover around Chinatown. “We are not a traditional museum. We tell the stories of the past alongside the contemporary with a view to better understanding/influencing the future,” sayes Tony Stephens, MOCA’s executive director. “The Stories of Home project is the embodiment of this approach. Crowd-sourced and democratic, we invite the public to contribute their story of home so we can all better understand the beauty in our differences as well as our similarities.”  From Incu’s Brian and Vincent Wu to artist Louise Zhang, visitors can immerse themselves in the stories of everyday Chinese Australians who carry the legacy of their ancestors, root themselves in the present, and pave the way for future generations. MOCA also ext

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

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 stories for inspiration for teen flicks. It was the same year that gifted us the timeless Heath Ledger vehicle 10 Things I Hate About You, based on Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. Meanwhile, Cruel Intentions took inspiration from the 1782 French novel Les Liaisons Dangereuses (which was also the basis for 1988's Dangerous Liaisons) and boasts an all-star, all-'90s cast in Ryan Phillippe, Reese Witherspoon, Selma Blair and Sarah Michelle Gellar, America’s sweetheart who was at the height of her Buffy powers at the time and really shook things up by playing a rich bitch with a cocaine habit.  The plot is somewhat convoluted, but in

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Theatre
  • Drama
  • Millers Point

We’ve recently seen an uptick in the appeal of period dramas – or in the case of shows like Bridgerton, the lush escapist aesthetic of anachronistic period dramas, at least. From the sequel-fuelling upstairs-downstairs dynamics of Downton Abbey to the countless fires stoked by multiple generations of Pride and Prejudice, to the enduring appeal of soggy grey European landscapes as vehicles for the exchange of burning glances that are brimming with queer subtext.  It’s about time that the feel of the period dramas that have been saturating screens was felt on the mainstage, and that is what we get with Sydney Theatre Company’s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. Adapted by the recent recipient of the Patrick White Playwrights Fellow, Emme Hoy, in her mainstage debut, this is a contemporary interpretation of a novel by the youngest and most unruly Brontë sister, Anne, which is considered the first English feminist novel.  When strong-willed Helen Graham (Tuuli Narkle, supported by a cast at varying stages of their careers, all packing the strong stage presence you’d expect of a STC show) moves into the estate on the edge of the sleepy village of Lindenhope with her young son in tow, the townsfolk’s starved rumour mill fires up, and eventually it comes to light that the Widow Graham is no widow at all – she has left her husband, and that simply is not done. When The Tenant of Wildfell Hall was first published in 1848, it so shocked English society with its frank depiction of an abusive

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  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Theatre
  • Comedy
  • Dawes Point

Warning: this review contains spoilers. Ever wondered what it would be like to live inside someone else’s body? See things differently? In Michelle Law’s latest play, Top Coat, directed by her long-time collaborator Courtney Stewart for Sydney Theatre Company, a young Chinese-Australian woman swaps bodies with a white Australian television executive, and the pair take a literal walk in each other’s shoes.  It’s a warm, vibrant tribute to the iconic body swap comedies of the ‘90s and early 2000s – think Freaky Friday or Suddenly 30 – and it also confronts the ugly face of everyday systemic racism and sexism. The swap takes place unexpectedly between Winnie (Kime Tsukakoshi), a nail technician who is saving up for her own salon and is increasingly frustrated by her mainly white, privileged clientele, and one such customer –  Kate (Amber McMahon), a tough, even brutish female TV executive at MBC with a dated sense of feminism (see: frequent references to her favourite suffragette Mary Maloney). The play is at its best in excavating the layers of inequality, symbolised by the experiences and particular traits of each character. Winnie and her co-worker Asami (Arisa Yura) must deal with subconscious and overt racism from customers, who barely expect them to be able to speak English, or expect inappropriate ‘extras’. In response to this stressful environment, Winnie has developed an overly aggressive temperament. In contrast, Kate speaks in a commanding and articulate manner, “univ

  • Art
  • Galleries
  • price 0 of 4
  • Sydney

Australia’s favourite portrait prize is back for 2022, and as always it's a delight to see which famous faces have made it into the mix of painterly interpretations. This year over 800 paintings were submitted, and you can peruse the top 52 at the Art Gallery of New South Wales until August 28, when they ship off around the country. This year Koori artist Blak Douglas took out the top gong, the $100,000 Archibald Prize, for a painting of his good friend and fellow artist Karla Dickens, depicted looking grumpy and holding leaking buckets as she stands in muddy water during the recent devastating floods in her hometown of Lismore in northern New South Wales.  The much-anticipated Packing Room Prize, which is judged by the Art Gallery staff who receive, unpack and hang the entries, was awarded this year to Sydney-based artist Claus Stangl for his impressive 3D-style painting of beloved New Zealander writer, director, actor (and everyone’s crush) Taika Waititi. A highly commended honour was awarded this year to Sydney artist Jude Rae for her portrait of scientist, engineer and inventor Dr Saul Griffith. Rae is also a finalist in this year’s Wynne Prize with her landscape The white fig (Ficus cirens), Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney. Other notable portraits this year include a colourful depiction of Shane Jenek standing shoulder to shoulder with his drag alter-ego Courtney Act, a realistic painting of actor Hugh Jackman posed with his wife Deborra-Lee Furness, a cheeky lounging nude

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  • Art
  • Installation
  • Sydney

Songlines are navigational tracks that map the routes of ancestral spirits as they travel across Australia, creating the land and its people. They carry stories, laws, values and knowledge, and are central to the world view of Aboriginal Australians. Open now at the Museum of Sydney, Walking Through a Songline is a spectacular digital art installation with deep cultural connections. Featuring swirling beams of light set against a chorus of sound, the work invites you to immerse yourself in a space where paintings come to life, stories are visualised and ancient knowledge is shared in a striking and artistic way.  As you follow in the footsteps of the Seven Sisters – a Dreamtime story of forbidden love, daring escapes and familial bonds – the culturally charged display will recreate the feeling of walking through a songline. You’ll surrender your understanding of time and space, and watch on in wonder as this ancient narrative comes to life through new technology. Walking Through a Songline is open Thursday through to Sunday until July 17 at the Museum of Sydney. You can enjoy free entry to the museum (including admission to this exhibition) on Fridays 5pm-8pm and every weekend until June 30. For more information, head to the website.

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  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Theatre
  • Musicals
  • Elizabeth Bay

At the height of the Great Depression, Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow went from two small-town nobodies in West Texas to America's most renowned folk heroes and Texas law enforcement's worst nightmares. There is an enduring allure to the legendary tale of these notorious bank-robbing lovers. With love, lust, tragedy, crime and murder, it’s a story that is ripe for the musical theatre treatment – and Australia finally sees its own mainstage debut of the Tony-nominated Bonnie & Clyde the musical from the legendary Frank Wildhorn (Jekyll & Hyde, Civil War, Dracula) at Sydney’s Hayes Theatre. Delivered with a thick Texas accent, this show is smattered with gunfire and splashes of blood. The violence is contrasted by the internal worlds of these supposed hardened criminals, as they grapple with what it means to take a life, and the failings of a society which stole their innocence and led them both down the dark path that would ultimately end in their demise.  As they hurtle ever faster towards their inevitable demise, we see how Bonnie and Clyde’s frivolous facade (they would literally sign autographs during bank robberies) and frisky connection also belies a complicated, tumultuous relationship. There is a moment of shocked silence early on when Clyde (Blake Appelqvist) raises a hand to Bonnie (Teagan Wouters). It’s enough to make you buy into the advice that a lady should always choose a nice, respectable (if slightly dull) hopeful suitor – like detective Ted Hinton, played wit

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  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Theatre
  • Musicals
  • price 2 of 4
  • Darlinghurst

Following an extended, sold-out season in 2019, and a return season that was cut short by the pandemic last year, Darlinghurst Theatre is bringing back the smash-hit musical Once from June 24, 2022, for a strictly limited season.  Reprising their critically acclaimed roles are Toby Francis (Guy), Stefanie Caccamo (Girl) and Jay Laga'aia (Da). Other returning cast members include Deirdre Khoo (ex-girlfriend), Drew Livingston (Bank Manager), Abe Mitchell (Andrej), Rupert Reid (Billy), Patrick Schnur (Emcee) and Alec Steedman (Eamon). They are accompanied by Pavan Kumar Hari (Švec), who joined the production in Perth, and newcomers to the show Ruby Clark (Reza) and Emma Price (Baruška). Read on for our review from 2019: A guy and a girl meet on a Dublin street. He’s busking his last set before he gives up on music forever. She needs her vacuum cleaner fixed. Through music, a delicate, hopeful connection is forged.  Once, John Carney’s quiet and soulful movie musical, was a big hit with sensitive folks and indie-folk fans back in 2007, and at the heart of it was ‘Falling Slowly’, a duet between musicians Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová. It won the Academy Award for Best Original song; it was recorded by Hansard’s group the Frames as well as his and Irglová’s duo the Swell Season; it birthed a thousand self-made mixtapes and beseeched whole swathes of the population to push through their hurts to find new little sparks of life. Now a stage musical, with a book by Irish playwright

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Theatre
  • Drama
  • Surry Hills

Staying true to its title, Sexual Misconduct of the Middle Classes kicks off with a moment of sexual misconduct from a particuarly unsavoury member of the middle class. Jon, the show’s self-proclaimed ‘rockstar professor’ (played by Dan Speilman) grins jauntily at the audience with his legs spread wide in a desk chair, all while sipping from a thermos that, he says proudly, just had his urine in it a mere few days prior. It’s cool, he says. He’s given it a rinse. This opening scene, with it’s witty one-liners and crass corners is a good set-up for an 80-minute play that takes the audience places it doesn’t expect (or sometimes want) to go. Peppy pop-culture meets conversational comedy to create a smoke-screen concealing far more insidious truths about sexual violence, old men and young girls that feel at once both historic and timely.  Written by Canadian Hannah Moscovitch and directed by Australian Petra Kalive, this Aussie take of the 2020 novel is cryptically hilarious – and yet also hazily harrowing. Following the relationship between 19-year-old Annie, played by Izabella Yena, and Jon, her aforementioned rockstar professor over three disparate time periods, this play is a meticulously-written exploration of sexual power dynamics and the nuances of the innate imbalances that exist between young women and older men, particularly in forbidden forests like that of the university campus.  Yena’s Annie starts off as a bright-eyed young woman with lofty dreams, her 19-years ind

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