2011: A year in review

2011: We look at the year that has been.

It certainly has been a big year in the world of Australian Theatre; check out our ‘year in review’ below, and Erin James’ ‘Thank you’ column.

A year in Review

There are so many things that have happened this year. Here are just a few that I can remember… a month by month look at 2011!


  • The devastating floods which ripped through much of Queensland and NSW set theatres in a flurry in Brisbane. QPAC was shut down due to flooding and Wicked was forced to cancel performances.
  • Flood relief concerts took place in Melbourne and Sydney to raise funds for the victims of this natural disaster.
Ben Lewis and Anna O'Byrne
Ben Lewis and Anna O’Byrne. Image by Jeff Busby


  • Composer Jason Robert Brown kicks off his Australian season of shows.
  • Brand new musical Dr Zhivao opens in Sydney starring Anthony Warlow, Lucy Maunder and Taneel Van Zyl.
  • Ben Lewis and Anna O’Byrne (pictured) are announced as Phantom and Christine for the re-worked production of Love Never Dies.

  • The Boy From Oz opens at the Capitol Theatre, Sydney


  • Erin James announced as the 2nd ever Editor and together with co-director Matt Edwards, begins the take-over process for AussieTheatre.com
Tony Sheldon as Bernadette
Tony Sheldon as Bernadette
  • The troubled ‘tent’ production of Xanadu opens at Melbourne’s Docklands, March 3
  • New Musicals Australia launches 2011 season in Sydney
  • STC announces plans to tour Uncle Vanya (starring Cate Blanchett) to the USA in August
  • Sharon Millerchip announced as Meg Giry for Love Never Dies

  • Priscilla opens on Broadway, starring Australia’s own Tony Sheldon as Bernadette (pictured).
  • Melbourne’s Green Room Awards take place at the The Famous Spiegeltent, Arts Centre.
  • 25th Annual Melbourne International Comedy Festival begins


  • Love Never Dies begins rehearsals in Sydney

  • Rock of Agesopens in Melbourne at the Comedy TheatreXanadu
  • Xanadu producers go into administration; the production, which starred Christie Whelan and Sam Ludeman (pictured) closes on April 10.
  • The Wheels of A Dream phenomenon (starring Adam Rennie, Tessa Hurst and Nat Jobe) sweeps across Australia and the world

  • Dr Zhivago opens in Melbourne at Her Majesty’s Theatre, April 14
  • Black Swan State Theatre Company broadcasts a live stage performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in real time to audiences across regional Western Australia.
  • MTC’s Next To Normal opens in Melbourne, April 28


  • Mary Poppins (pictured) opens in Sydney after 9 months at the Regent Theatre, Melbourne.
  • Plans to ‘derail the Phantom sequel’ with the Love Should Die campaign

    Mary Poppins. Image by David Wyatt
    Mary Poppins. Image by David Wyatt
  • $9 Million production of Love Never Dies opens in Melbourne, 28 May. Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber comes to Melbourne for the premiere.
  • Tony Sheldon nominated for a Tony Award for his performance in Priscilla on Broadway
  • Sondheim praises our Caroline O’Connor’s portrayal of Mrs Lovett (Sweeney Todd) in Paris

  • Wicked celebrates 1000 performances in Australia, 7 May
  • Anthony Warlow and Todd McKenney named for 2012 revival of Annie

  • Addams Family musical announced for Sydney, 2013

  • Strictly Ballroom announced for Sydney 2013
  • Acting legend Bill Hunter loses battle with cancer, aged 71



  • Hairspray, starring Trevor Ashley and Jaz Flowers (pictured) opens in Sydney
  • John Foreman’s musical Strange Bedfellows is announced for Melbourne, October 2011 (cast announced are Lucy Durack, Peter Cousens, Melissa Langton and John Wood)
  • The much anticipated original cast recording of Dr. Zhivago is cancelled
  • Adelaide Cabaret Festival begins
  • Volcanic Ash cloud from Chile stops air traffic, affecting Adelaide Cabaret Festival and several large musicals with cast unable to return from weekend trips to see family.
  • Kevin Spacey is announced to be performing Richard III at Sydney’s Lyric Theatre, December 2011


  • Erin James takes over from Troy Dodds as Editor of AussieTheatre.com (and does Dry July to keep her head on straight!)
  • Cast of Jersey Boystake part in Dry July (pictured)
    Dry July
  • King Kong The Musical workshops take place in Sydney
  • Magnormos’ Jerry Herman Triptych begins in Melbourne

  • Twisted Broadway raises money for OZ Showbiz Cares/Equity Fights Aids, Melbourne
  • Tick Tick Boom opens in Sydney and plays a short but very successful season at NIDA
  • Melbourne Cabaret Festival begins
  • Actress Googie Withers dies, age 94


Strange Bedfellows

  • Jonothan Biggins hosts 2011 Helpmann Awards at the Sydney Opera House. Mary Poppins scoops the pool with 8 awards.

  • Rock of Ages announces Sydney season for January 2012
  • An Officer and A Gentleman is announced for Sydney, May 2012
  • Opera Australia announces its 2012 season, including a revival of South Pacific starring Teddy Tahu Rhodes
  • Several London theatres close their doors in response to the violent riots taking place across the city
  • Rumours about the cancellation of Strange Bedfellows, starring Peter Cousens and John Wood (pictured) begin to circulate
  • AussieTheatre.com breaks the news that Strange Bedfellows is delayed, not cancelled. Initial estimate is a 10 week delay.


Entertainment Assist
Chairman of Entertainment Assist, Larry Ponting. Image by Matt Edwards
  • The revival of A Chorus Line produced by Tim Lawson announces auditions
  • The Concourse, a revolutionary new theatre complex in Chatswood, opens its doors for the first time.
  • Entertainment Assist – a charity to help artists in need is launched in Melbourne (chairman Larry Ponting, pictured).
  • The Sydney Fringe Festival begins, 9 September
  • Brisbane Festival begins

  • Hairspray cast given notice: show to close early in Sydney

  • Wicked closes in Australia. The show opened in July 2008 in Melbourne and toured to Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth.

  • Love Never Dies is filmed for international DVD, Blu-Ray and cinema release on September 15 2011 at the Regent Theatre. Andrew Lloyd Webber visits Australia for the second time this year to oversee the filming.
  • Australian idol personality and star of Wicked, Rob Mills, is announced to host revival of Young Talent Time on Channel 10

  • Hats Off Melbourne raises money for OZ Showbiz Cares/Equity Fights Aids
  • Amanda Harrison and Ben Mingay announced as lead roles for An Officer and A Gentleman 


Blake Bowden

  • West End star Scarlett Strallen takes over from Mary Poppin’s Verity Hunt-Ballard for 8 weeks, Sydney in the role of Mary.
  • Melbourne Festival begins

  • Light The Night raises money for the Arrow Bone Marrow Foundation, hosted by Brendan Moar and Jan van de Stool
  • Diane Cliento dies, age 78
  • Blake Bowden (pictured) wins 2011 Rob Guest Endowment

  • King Kong is officially announced for Melbourne’s Regent Theatre, 2013 as auditions commence for the final workshop and show.

  • Rock of Ages announce their intention to ‘postpone’ their Sydney season.
  • Short Sweet+Cabaret returns to Melbourne


Rock of Ages cast

  • Short+Sweet Festival takes place in Brisbane
  • NIDA appoints new head of Acting for 2012, Jeff Janisheski.
  • Australian director Sarah Watt, wife of actor William McInnes, passes away aged 53 after losing her battle with cancer.

  • Legally Blonde is announced to play at the Lyric Theatre, The Star, not the Capitol Theatre as originally speculated.

  • Grey Gardens, starring Pamela Rabe and Nancye Hayes opens at the Arts Centre
  • Ghost The Musical is announced for Melbourne, 2013.
  • Two young Australians (Rarmian Newton and Sarah McCreanor) announced as lead roles inHow To Train Your Dragon 
  • The award winning play War Horse is announced for Melbourne 2012
  • AussieTheatre.com announces an exclusive WICKED blog for the Singapore tour, written by cast member Chris Scalzo
  • A professional production of Next To Normal is announced for Sydney, 2012
  • STC switch their Eliza’s for their production of Pygmalion (Andrea Demetriades will replace Jessica Marais as she awaits the birth of her first child)

  • Moonshadow, the Yusuf (Cat Stevens) musical is announced for Melbourne, 2012

  • Rock of Ages closes two weeks early in Brisbane.


Suzie Mathers and Jemma Rix in Wicked

  • How To Train Your Dragon Arena Spectacular’s international cast are rehearsing in Sydney’s Fox Studios ahead of a March 2012 opening.
  • Kevin Spacey performs to sold out houses in Richard III at Sydney’s Lyric Theatre

  • A Chorus Line is set to open on December 31 at the Adelaide Festival Centre.
  • Industry in shock as RJ Rosales passes away, age 37. Rosales starred as Thuy in the recent Australian tour of Miss Saigon.
  • Summer of the Seventeenth Doll will open MTC’s 2012 season, January.
  • Nancye Hayes celebrates 50 years in showbusiness.
  • Suzie Mathers (Wicked‘s new Glinda) is ill for Singapore opening night; Lucy Durack is flown in to save the day.

  • Jersey Boys, Love Never Dies and Mary Poppins all close (December 17/18) and prepare to tour.

  • Annie prepares to preview on December 29 at the Lyric Theatre, The Star (Sydney)



Erin James

Erin James is AussieTheatre.com's former Editor in Chief and a performer on both stage and screen. Credits include My Fair Lady, South Pacific and The King and I (Opera Australia), Love Never Dies and Cats (Really Useful Group), Blood Brothers (Enda Markey Presents), A Place To Call Home (Foxtel/Channel 7) and the feature film The Little Death (written and directed by Josh Lawson).

Erin James

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