Music Theatre in Australia is thriving! From the major commercial productions to independent and boutique seasons, it’s an exciting time to be involved in the music theatre industry.
Keeping track of all that’s happening can be hard, so we’ve put it all down in one place for you! Take a look at what is in store for Australia in the commercial and independent music theatre scenes for 2015, 2016 and beyond!
Commercial Music Theatre 2015
After premiering at Melbourne’s Regent Theatre in 2008, WICKED will conclude its epic Australasian tour in Perth this year. Starring Suzie Mathers and Jemma Rix as the beloved witches Glinda and Elphaba, this production has enchanted thousands of fans across Australia, New Zealand and South East Asia and its final Perth season opened on May 7 at Crown Theatre. Two members of the current cast – Jemma Rix and Ryan Sheppard – have been with the production since the first season in 2008!
Want more? View all our Wicked news and features
The Lion King
Disney’s favourite King made a grand return to Australia, playing seasons at Sydney’s Capitol Theatre, Brisbane’s Lyric Theatre QPAC and now at Melbourne’s Regent Theatre. The show recently surpassed The Phantom Of The Opera as the highest grossing musical of all time and will tour to Perth in 2015 – marking the first time the musical has been seen in Western Australia in its 18 year history.
Want more? View all our The Lion King news and features
Really Useful Group and Lunchbox Productions will bring the new London Palladium production of CATS to Australia and New Zealand in 2015 -16, following tours in South Korea, Macau and Singapore. The newly reworked production now features an 8 piece live band, various changes to some musical numbers (including a street-wise, rapping Rum Tum Tugger) and a new tap routine for Jennyanydots. Following a short stint in Auckland, the show will open in Sydney on October 30 and will play limited seasons in Hobart (December 10), Melbourne (18 December) and Brisbane (29 January 2016). Perth and Adelaide are understood to also be in the schedule in 2016, but no dates have been announced at this stage.
Want more? View all our CATS news and features
The reworked production of Baz Luhrmann’s classic love story opened to mixed reviews at Sydney’s Lyric Theatre on 12 April 2014 and closed October 5 before transferring to Melbourne’s Her Majesty’s Theatre from January this year. The show, starring Phoebe Panaretos and Thomas Lacey in the coveted roles of Fran and Scott is currently on sale until July 26, 2015, after extending its season.
Les Miserables enjoyed an official opening night on July 3, 2014 at Her Majesty’s Theatre in Melbourne, played a limited season in Perth and is currently at home in Sydney’s Capitol Theatre. Simon Gleeson and Green Room Award winning actor Hayden Tee lead an incredible cast of performers in Cameron Mackintosh’s latest revival of this Boublil and Schoenberg masterpiece and the production is expected to tour for quite some time.
Rehearsals are about to commence for Tim Minchin’s multi-award winning musical, based on the much loved book by Roald Dahl, which opens at The Lyric Theatre, The Star on July 28. This will no doubt be one of the biggest musicals to hit Australian shores in recent years, boasting a raft of awards including Tonys, Oliviers (it still holds the record for the most Oliviers ever won by a musical), Grammys and Drama Desk to name a few. Tickets are now on sale until October, but based on the hype and anticipation surrounding the show, it’s possible the production will stay put a little longer. Starring: James Millar, Elise McCann, Marika Aubrey and Daniel Frederiksen in the adult principal roles and Bella Thomas, Molly Barwick, Sasha Rose and Georgia Taplin as the four alternating Matildas.
Want more? View all our Matilda news and features
John Frost’s production of Dirty Dancing – a ten year anniversary affair which opened at the Lyric Theatre Sydney late last year – is something of a star turn for Kirby Burgess as Baby. Although reactions to the show have been mixed, critics have been unanimous in their praise of Burgess’ performance. The show, based on the 1987 film starring Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Gray, is currently at Melbourne’s Princess Theatre before moving to Brisbane’s Lyric Theatre (from 27 May 2015), Perth’s Crown Theatre (from 2 August 2015) and Adelaide’s Festival Theatre from October.
Want more? View all our Dirty Dancing news and features
Opera Australia and John Frost are once again teaming up to present a musical within the Opera Australia season. Although the previous two music theatre ventures were from the Rogers and Hammerstein canon, the co-producers have ventured into new territory with Cole Porter’s Anything Goes. Starring Caroline O’Connor, Todd McKenney, Alex Rathgeber, Claire Lyon, Debora Krizak and Wayne Scott Kermond, Anything Goes will play Melbourne (Princess Theatre), Brisbane (QPAC) and Sydney (Opera House) just like The King and I and South Pacific before it.
Want more? See all our Anything Goes news and features
Victorian Opera will produce their third Sondheim musical in an many years (Sunday in the Park with George and Into The Woods featured in their 2013 and 2014 seasons). Teddy Tahu Rhodes will star as the demon barber of Fleet Street, fresh from his roles in Opera Australia’s South Pacific and The King and I, making this a hat trick of music theatre for the accountant-turned-opera-star from New Zealand. The production will be directed by Stuart Maunder and also star Antoinette Halloran, a Victorian Opera favourite.
The Rocky Horror Show
Due to popular demand, John Frost and Howard Panter’s production of The Rocky Horror Show starring Craig McLachaln as Frank ‘n’ Furter is now playing in Sydney. Although originally only scheduled for a Brisbane, Melbourne Adelaide and Perth tour in 2014, Rocky Horror will play a limited season in Sydney between John Frost’s production of Dirty Dancing and Louise Withers’ production of Matilda at the Lyric Theatre, The Star. The show will close June 7 before transferring back to Melbourne’s Comedy Theatre.
Want more? See all our Rocky Horror news and features
Jekyll and Hyde
Auditions for Jekyll and Hyde have taken place and we now await a casting announcement for this hugely anticipated musical. Rumours have been flying about who will play the troubled genius/inner monster Jekyll & Hyde, but all will be revealed in good time. A co-production between Opera Australia and GFO, this reworked version of Frank Wildhorn’s musical was workshopped in New York recently with Anthony Warlow in the title roles, and will be directed by Chris Renshaw (The King and I) and designed by Gabriella Tylesova (Love Never Dies). The production is set to commence performances late 2015 and tour in the 2016 schedule.
The Sound of Music
Rogers and Hammerstein’s classic musical The Sound of Music was last seen in Australia 15 years ago. It returns in the 2015-16 schedule, presented once again by GFO. Auditions for this production have taken place although casting announcements are yet to me made. It is understood that the recent London Palladium production will be the version to hit Australia in late 2015.
Want more? See all our Rocky Horror news and features
Independent Music Theatre 2015
Pasek and Paul’s acclaimed musical Dogfight is now playing at Hayes Theatre Co starring Luigi Lucente, Hilary Cole, Rowan Witt, Johanna Allen and Toby Francis. Read our review of the show here.
Green Room Award winning production house Watch This productions announced exclusively on AussieTheatre that they would be presenting Stephen Sondheim’s Company in Melbourne in 2015. Following successful seasons of two other Sondheim works – Assassins and Pacific Overtures – there is no doubt that this production will be of an incredibly high standard.
Tony Award winning musical Avenue Q comes to the Enmore Theatre this July in a production starring Green Room Award winner Madeleine Jones (Once) as Kate Monster, NIDA graduate Matthew Predney as Princeton and Justin Smith (Deadline Gallipoli, Underbelly: Badness, Billy Elliott) as Brian. Playing a limited season from 2 July – 18 July, this production is directed by Jo Turner, musically directed by Shannon Brown and produced by Luke Westley.
Already this year StageArt have brought us In The Heights which received positive reviews. Now, from May 28, they’re staging the diva classic Dreamgirls. Full of onstage joy and backstage drama, Dreamgirls tells the story of ‘The Dreams,’ an up-and-coming 1960s girl singing group – inspired by the career of Diana Ross and The Supremes – as they experience the triumphs and tribulations that accompany their pursuit of fame and fortune in the tumultuous music industry.
Western Australia is getting in on this Pulitzer Prize-winning musical, too. Black Swan State Theatre Company are bringing the story of the Goodmans – a family struggling with some serious issues – to life. The cast consists of Shannen Alyce, Rachael Beck, Brendan Hanson, and Joel Horwood, and they’re a group well-equipped to break your heart. You can catch this one in November; mark it down in your calendars!
Nelson Gardner described it as an “Irish-Australian Les Mis” and even though this production is only playing 10 shows in Bendigo, it’s the talk of the town. A new Australian musical charting the iconic, fiercely Australian Ned Kelly story, Ned opens on May 22 and is sure to make waves well after it’s over.
Speaking of Australian stories, this new musical, that will the story of the Seekers, the band behind “Georgy Girl” itself as well as “Morningtown Ride” and “A World of Our Own” – and so many more. A successful workshop, starring Verity Hunt-Ballard, was held last August, and the show is set to premiere in Melbourne, the band’s hometown, in December.
This one’s a special case! The lively musical, based on THAT film, with a book by Jeff Whitty (Avenue Q), lyrics by Tom Kitt (Next to Normal) and Lin-Manuel Miranda (Hamilton), and music by Amanda Green and Lin-Manuel Miranda, will be staged in both Sydney and Melbourne, in two entirely separate productions. The Melbourne production opens on 20 May, and the Sydney production isn’t too far behind, opening in mid-June. Get your cheerleading chants ready: this one is a beast and it’s coming to us in double trouble.
Enda Markey’s sell out production of Blood Brothers, which debuted at the Hayes Theatre in February this year, is heading to Melbourne in July 2015 for a short season at the new Alex Theatre in St Kilda with an ensemble cast including Helen Dallimore, Bobby Fox, Josh Piterman and Michael Cormick.
A production of Violet at Hayes Theatre Co in November/December 2015. This Australian production, produced by Blue Saint Productions in association with Hayes Theatre Co, will be directed by three-time Helpmann Award winner Mitchell Butel, will feature Musical Direction by Lucy Bermingham (Strictly Ballroom, Guilty Pleasures), choreography by Amy Campbell (Guilty Pleasures, So You Think You Can Dance), and set design by Simon Greer (Man of La Mancha). Rob Guest Endowment winner Samantha Leigh Dodemaide will star as Violet after appearing in Anything Goes for Opera Australia/GFO as cover for Reno and Erma.
Trevor Ashley will direct a production of Heathers at Hayes Theatre Co this year starring Lucy Maunder and Jaz Flowers and produced by Working Management and Showqueen Productions. This hilariously homicidal musical comedy is based on the cult teen film starring Winona Ryder and Christian Slater and will be musically directed by Bev Kennedy.
Star of stage and screen Helen Dallimore will direct Amy Lehpamer in this old school classic musical at the Hayes Theatre Co, with performances from Friday 4 September. The production will also feature Bobby Fox, Bert LaBonte and Virginia Gay.
Directed by Shaun Rennie and produced by Highway Run Productions, Jonathan Larson’s cult musical RENT will play at the Hayes Theatre Co from 8 October – 1 November, 2015. Andrew Worboys (Sweet Charity) will musically direct the production and Andy Dexterity will choreograph. No cast have been announced at this stage.
Delia Hannah, Nancye Hayes, Lucy Maunder, Michael Cormick, Lisa-Marie Parker, Anton Berezin, Blake Bowden and Martin Crewes – in a musical TOGETHER. A Sondheim show, no less! Yes please! Playing two shows only at the Arts Centre Melbourne 23 May, 2pm and 7:30pm.
Squabbalogic’s next major musical is set to play at The Seymour Centre in Sydney, the independent theatre darlings’ new home. Running from June 17 – July 4, the show will feature Blake Erickson, Keira Daley and Rob Johnson and will be directed by Jay James-Moody
An exciting partnership with the Sydney Philharmonia Chorus and Squabbalogic, Of Thee I Sing will play at the Concert Hall, Sydney Opera House for two shows only (September 26 and 27). Jay James-Moody will once again direct for Squabbalogic. No casting has been announced at this stage.
Finally! Sydney audiences have the chance to see this Award Winning Broadway musical, presented by Squabbalogic at The Seymour Centre from November 18 – December 12. The Sydney Premiere of Grey Gardens brings the story of Edith Bouvier Beale and her daughter (Little Edie) to the stage in a show created by Doug Wright, Scott Frankell and Michael Korie. Casting will be announced later in the year, and we at AussieTheatre advise you not to miss this production!
Want more? View all our Squabbalogic news and features
The Production Company Season 2015
West Side Story
11 – 19 July, 2015
Starring Anna O’Byrne (Love Never Dies) as Maria and Gareth Keegan (Moonshadow) as Tony, West Side Story will play at Arts Centre Melbourne for 10 shows only. Directed by Gale Edwards, original choreography restaged by up and coming creative genius Michael Ralph and musically directed by Guy Simpson.
Nice work if you can get it
Starring Rohan Browne, Esther Hannaford and Christie Whelan-Browne, Nice Work if You Can Get It is a 1920s inspired musical featuring the music of George and Ira Gershwin. Directed by Roger Hodgman, musically directed by John Foreman and choreographed by Dana Jolly, the show also stars Gina Riley, John Wood and George Kapiniaris. 10 shows only at Arts Centre Melbourne.
21 November – 6 December 2015
Created to showcase his leading ladies, this new staging of Jerry Herman’s Jerry’s Girls will feature the dazzling talents of twelve of Australia’s leading ladies including Rhonda Burchmore, Nancye Hayes, Silvie Paladino, Christie Whelan-Browne and Kirby Burgess. 17 performances at Arts Centre Melbourne.
2016 and beyond …
Adam Garcia has been confirmed to star as Don Lockwood in the Australian tour of Singin’ In The Rain, opening at Melbourne’s Her Majesty’s Theatre in May 2016. The production extended its original run at the Chichester Festival Theatre in the UK due to unprecedented public demand, before transferring to the famous Palace Theatre in London in 2012. Now, after a sell-out West End season, unparalleled praise from critics and audiences alike, four Olivier Award nominations, a major UK tour, New Zealand season and forthcoming Asian Tours, seasons are also confirmed for Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth. Auditions for the ensemble cast are set to take place in June 2015.
From the creators of South Park comes one of Broadway’s biggest hits, The Book of Mormon. Scheduled to open at Melbourne’s Princess Theatre in January 2017, John Frost and his co-producers have already set the marketing and publicity wheels in motion for this epic show.
Hold on to your Baggy Trousers, AussieTheatre understands that a production of Our House, the hit UK musical may be coming to Australia in 2016. Although a tour was originally rumoured for 2015, it is likely the musical’s producers will wait until at least 2016 to bring the show to life. With music by 70s/80s ska band “Madness’, the show won an Oliver Award for Best Musical in 2003. Influences for the story, written by Tim Firth (Calendar Girls), are said to be Willy Russell’s Blood Brothers and the movie Sliding Doors.
Perhaps its just that everyone WANTS it to come, but persistent rumours of an Australian production of Newsies continue to circulate. During his stint in Australia for South Pacific in 2012, Tony Award winning choreographer Christopher Gattelli joked that he would love to bring the production to Australia – so we’ve got that going for us at least! Now to find a theatre…
We Will Rock You
Rumours have been flying about that a production of We Will Rock You is set to return to Australia. The musical, which features the music of Queen, originally opened in Australia in 2003 and starred Kate Maree Hoolihan and Michael Falzon.
Are we missing anything? Let us know by sending us an email!