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Music Theatre is thriving in Australia at the moment. From the major commercial productions to independent and boutique seasons, it’s an exciting time to be involved in the music theatre industry.
We take a look at what is in store for Australia in the commercial and independent music theatre scenes for 2014, 2015 and beyond!
Commercial Music Theatre 2014
The Green Machine just keeps on going! Having performed all across Australia, New Zealand and parts of South East Asia, Wicked has just concluded a successful return season at The Regent Theatre, its original home in Melbourne. Starring Lucy Durack and Jemma Rix as the beloved witches Glinda and Elphaba, this production is set to move to Sydney’s Capitol Theatre from September 20 and The Lion King will move from the Capitol to Brisbane.
Want more? View all our Wicked news and features
The Lion King
Disney’s favourite king returned to Sydney’s Capitol Theatre late last year where it enjoyed an incredibly successful run. The Lion King is now open at the Lyric Theatre QPAC. No further cities have been announced, but it is likely the show, which has recently surpassed The Phantom Of the Opera as the highest grossing musical of all time, will continue the Australian tour circuit once the Brisbane season has concluded.
Want more? View all our The Lion King news and features
The King and I
Lisa McCune stars in this Rodgers and Hammerstein classic at the Sydney Opera House, which took out the Best Musical gong at this year’s Helpmann Awards and has already played seasons in Brisbane (Lyric Theatre QPAC), Melbourne (Princess Theatre). International artist Jason Scott Lee was brought out to Australia to reprise the role of The King of Siam for the Melbourne season but withdrew from the show due to injury. Lou Diamond Phillips replaced Lee, starring opposite Lisa McCune in Melbourne while Teddy Tahu Rhodes performed as Don G at the Sydney Opera House. The 8 week Opera House season closes November 2, and Teddy Tahu Rhodes has re-joined the company opposite McCune.
This brand new Australian musical opened to mixed reviews at Sydney’s Lyric Theatre on 12 April and is closing in the harbour city on October 5. The show, starring Phoebe Panaretos and Thomas Lacey in the coveted roles of Fran and Scott, announced recently that it will be transferring to Melbourne’s Her Majesty’s Theatre in January 2014 after Les Miserables moves on to Perth.
Les Miserables enjoyed an official opening night on July 3, 2014 at Her Majesty’s Theatre in Melbourne. Simon Gleeson and 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. First stop after Melbourne is Perth (January 2015) followed by Sydney (March 2015).
This co-production between Melbourne Theatre Company and GFO of this Tony Award Winning musical is set to be a truly magical experience. Once is based on the Oscar Winning film of the same name and interestingly employed a very different audition process than most major musicals in Australia. All performers in this musical are required to sing, dance, act and play at least one instrument proficiently and each applicant was required to submit video auditions demonstrating their musical prowess, vocal ability and acting ability via a dedicated website in the initial stages of casting. Live auditions were granted after a comprehensive selection process took place. Once opened on October 4 at the Princess Theatre to rave reviews.
Want more? View all our Once news and features
John Frost’s most recent announcement was the return of the stage production of Dirty Dancing – a ten year anniversary affair which will open at the Lyric Theatre Sydney after Strictly Ballroom has closed. The show, which began its life at Sydney’s Theatre Royal in 2004 has broken box office records around the world and is sure to be a box office success once more in Australia. Based on the 1987 film starring Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Gray, the stage production features some of the music from the film including ‘(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life’ and ‘Hungry Eyes’. Kirby Burgess and Kurt Phelan have been announced for the principal roles of Baby and Johnny and Australia’s Got Talent winner Mark Vincent will play Billy.
Fun fact: Music theatre and TV star Ben Mingay (An Officer and and a Gentleman, Jersey Boys) played the role of Billy in Dirty Dancing in Australia, UK and USA.
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 will be playing in Sydney in 2015. Although originally scheduled for a Brisbane, Melbourne Adelaide and Perth tour, 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. It is understood that not all of the show’s original cast will be returning to Transylvannia due to other commitments, but Craig will most definitely be back in the corset as Frank for a limited time.
Want more? See all our Rocky Horror news and features
Independent Music Theatre 2014
The Collective, Melbourne’s newest theatre company, are currently presenting the Donmar Warehouse production of Jason Robert Brown’s Parade as their debut work. Starring Luigi Lucente, Laura Fitzpatrick and a raft of Australia’s incredible music theatre talent, the show has already been receiving standing ovations in previews. Running until 28 September at fortyfivedownstairs, it’s worthwhile booking tickets to this one before it sells out!
Currently playing at Hayes Theatre Co, LOVEBiTES is an Australian musical written by acclaimed duo James Millar and Peter Rutherford. Starring Kirby Burgess, Tyran Parke, Adele Parkinson and Shaun Rennie, LOVEBiTES was described by AussieTheatre’s Deputy Editor Cassie Tongue as “a piece of our [music theatre] history that feels immediate, relatable, tangible.” Playing until Sunday 5 October (the same day Strictly Ballroom brings down the curtain in Sydney. After party, anyone?)
The Hayes Theatre Co are fast becoming a major player in the Australian music theatre landscape, and the recent announcement that Max Lambert and the late Nick Enright’s musical Miracle City will be reinvigorated director Darren Yap, Choreographer Kelley Abbey and Lambert himself as musical director reinforces this notion. Originally performed at the Sydney Theatre Company in 1996, Miracle City has been described as “one of the best Australian musicals ever written” and Sydney audiences will have the chance to witness this masterpiece from October 17 – November 16 at the Hayes Theatre Co in Potts Point.
This seemingly quiet contender amongst the blockbusters on this list is one of the most exciting new shows of 2014. The play with music is not only a new Australian work, it will see the re-teaming of director Simon Phillps, playwright Joanna Murray-Smith and singer-actress Bernadette Robinson for their follow up to the smash hit show Songs or Nobodies. Pennsylvania Avenue by its very nature is easily one of the top shows to watch this year. The show will play at Melbourne’s Southbank Theatre, The Sumner from November 8 – December 20. Tickets are available here.
The new independent group Life Like Company is staging a production of this 10 time Tony Award winning Stephen Sondheim musical at the Arts Centre Melbourne for only four nights (November 5-8). Set in Italy in 1863, Passion is the story of a handsome army captain (Giorgio) who is separated from his beautiful – but married – mistress, Clara. He is forced to re-evaluate his beliefs about love when he becomes the object of the obsessive, unrelenting passions of Fosca, his Colonel’s plain, sickly cousin. It stars some serious talent: Silvie Paladino, John O’May, Kane Alexander, and Theresa Borg. Neil Gooding directs. Tickets are available here.
Sondheim on Sondheim
Darlings of the Sydney Independent Theatre scene, Squabbalogic, are presenting an exciting season in 2014-2015, commencing with Sondheim On Sondheim, an intimate look at the Father of the Modern Musical. Directed by Jay James-Moody and starring Blake Erickson, Debora Krizak, Rob Johnson, Louise Kelly, Dean Vince, Phillip Lowe and Monique Salle, Sondheim On Sondheim will play at the Reginald Theatre at Sydney’s Seymour Centre from October 1-18.
Neil Rutherford and Keiran Drury’s brand new musical Beyond Desire will open at the Hayes Theatre Co this November starring none other than Nancye Hayes herself – the theatre’s namesake. Inspired by Maurice, the novel by EM Forster and Shakespeare’s Hamlet this murder mystery musical is set in England’s Edwardian Era and stars Hayes, Phillip Lowe, Christy Sullivan, Ross Hannaford, Blake Bowden and David Bulters. Running from 21 November until 13 December, this is the final production in the 2014 Hayes Theatre Company season, and it’s sure to go off with a bang.
The Green Room Award nominated production of Assassins was a landmark production in the Australian independent theatre scene, and it’s about to make a comeback! Watch This productions mounted the show early in 2013 under the direction of Tyran Parke and starring Nadine Garner and managed to demonstrate just how much Australia craved well presented, independent music theatre. The newly formed company is now preparing to send Assassins on tour in 2014, paying the actors a fully professional wage – not a small feat for a production company in its second year! Many of the original cast are returning but there are some new and glamorous faces including Anne Wood (Mama Mia, Wicked), Glaston Toft (Jersey Boys) and Nicholas Christo (The Rocky Horror Show).
Music Theatre 2015
Next To Normal
Just confirmed: Doorstep Arts’ acclaimed production of Next To Normal starring Natalie O’Donnell (Mamma Mia, 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee) will play a limited season from January 8 – February 1, making it the opening production for the Hayes in 2015. Joining Natalie in the cast are some of Australia’s finest musical theatre talent including Anthony Harkin (Avenue Q, Shane Warne The Musical), Alex Rathgeber (An Officer And A Gentleman, Fiddler on the Roof), Brent Trotter (Jersey Boys, Four Seasons In One Night), Kiane O’Farrell (Carrie: The Musical, 42nd Street) and Clay Roberts (CATS, Thoroughly Modern Millie).
Presented by Enda Markey, Blood Brothers set to play as the second show in the Hayes Theatre Company’s 2015 season, with performances commencing in February. A cast of nine actors will take to the stage, lead by Helen Dallimore, Blake Bowden, Bobby Fox, and Michael Cormick. Directed by Andrew Pole and musically directed by Michael Tyack this fully professional production is sure to be an incredible theatrical event. More details available on their official website.
Children’s auditions are about to commence for Tim Minchin’s multi award winning musical, based on the much loved book by Roald Dahl, and an adult casting brief has also been released. 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.
Here Lies Love
Announced as the centrepiece of Vivid Sydney’s 2015 Program, Here Lies Love is set to play in Sydney from May 2015. The show has enjoyed critical and commercial acclaim in New York and a production is set to open in London shortly. Here Lies Love is an ‘immersive theatrical event’ that retraces the astonishing journey of Filipina First Lady Imelda Marcos from her meteoric rise to power to her descent into infamy after the People Power Revolution.
Hold on to your Baggy Trousers, AussieTheatre understands that a production of Our House, the hit UK musical is coming to Australia in 2015. A tour is likely, given the style and scale of the musical it is anticipated the producers will stage an abbreviated version of the piece as a workshop in late 2014. 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. Stay tuned for more information on this musical in coming months.
The Sound of Music
According to rumour, The Sound of Music may be heading back to Australia in late 2015. No official announcements have been made at this stage but we will keep you posted of any developments as they come to hand. This Rodgers and Hammerstein classic last toured Australia in 1999-2000 starring Lisa McCune and John Waters. Rachael Beck took over the role of Maria from McCune late in 2000 until 2001.
Jekyll and Hyde
According to rumour, a production of Jekyll and Hyde could be heading to our shores sooner rather than later. A reading of the piece took place earlier this year in Sydney, presumably for investors, but no official word has been released at this stage.
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…
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