From musicals to masterpieces, Australia’s theatre scene is thriving.
By Jac Taylor
Capping off a day of sightseeing or shopping with a night in the theatre gives a unique window into the soul of Australia. This is where creative expression, vibrant entertainment and international-standard superstars intersect, giving you memories that last a lifetime. The Australian theatre is where Hollywood stars such as Cate Blanchett and Geoffrey Rush had their beginnings – so who knows what name will rise next?
Must-see shows in 2017
MATILDA THE MUSICAL, PERTH, WESTERN AUSTRALIA
The highly awarded musical based on children’s author Roald Dahl’s classic novel, then set to music and scripted by Australian comedian and musician Tim Minchin, Matilda has won hearts all over the country for its dark wit and hilarious, left-of-centre fun. This may be the last time to catch this multiple Tony and Grammy-winning masterpiece as it opens in Perth’s 2000-seat Crown Theatre in Burswood.
Key date: From 28 February 2017
AN OCTOROON, BRISBANE, QUEENSLAND
Queensland Theatre is taking on the wonderful challenge of performing this complex play, originally written as a 19th century drama about forbidden love and racial tension, then reworked by American playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins as a comment on the modern racial landscape in the United States, and then reimagined yet again to reflect the Australian indigenous experience. This thought-provoking piece will be performed at Queensland Theatre as part of the Brisbane Festival.
Key dates: 16 September - 8 October 2017
MY FAIR LADY, BRISBANE, QUEENSLAND AND MELBOURNE, VICTORIA
After breaking box-office records for ticket sales at Sydney’s Opera House, the 60th anniversary production of this classic Broadway musical is on the move in 2017. Catch its strictly limited season at Brisbane’s QPAC Lyric Theatre or Melbourne’s Regent Theatre. Produced by Opera Australia talent and directed by international superstar Julie Andrews, it is sure to break more records this year.
Key dates: From 14 March 2017 (Brisbane); from 12 May 2017 (Melbourne)
THE BOOK OF MORMON, MELBOURNE, VICTORIA
A satire on religious beliefs, The Book of Mormon has a pedigree of pure talent having been created by Trey Parker and Matt Stone of TV's South Park fame, and Robert Lopez, co-composer for Disney smash hit Frozen. It should come as no surprise, then, that it has taken out nine Tony awards including one for Best Musical. Its Australian premiere at Melbourne’s Princess Theatre has sold out well in advance, so get in quickly for more performances.
Key date: From 25 January 2017
AWAY, SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES
For an experience of Australian theatre at its best, see one of the country’s most beloved classic plays written by renowned local playwright, Michael Gow. Away paints a very real picture of Australian life in the turbulent 1960s unleashing family secrets, social conflict and the experience of motherhood. Being a co-production between the highly regarded Sydney Theatre Company and the edgier Malthouse Theatre, and performed in the iconic Sydney Opera House, expect nothing but high drama and pure talent.
Key dates: 18 February - 25 March 2017
MAMMA MIA, CANBERRA, AUSTRALIAN CAPITAL TERRITORY & BRISBANE, QUEENSLAND
A brand new production of this crowd-pleasing musical tribute to love, parties and the music of ABBA is set to begin its Australian tour in the national capital, opening in Canberra's Theatre Centre in November before moving on to Brisbane in December. Featuring no less than 22 hit songs by Scandinavian disco-era pop sensations ABBA, set on a Greek island and reputed for its ability to get its audience up and dancing, Mamma Mia’s power to uplift may be impossible to resist.
Key dates: 24 November - 10 December 2017 (Canberra); from 1 December 2017 (Brisbane)
THE BODYGUARD, THE MUSICAL, SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES & BRISBANE, QUEENSLAND
Move over Kevin Costner – the movie The Bodyguard has gone highbrow. After a two-year run in London, this award-winning musical is starting its Australian tour in Sydney’s Lyric Theatre in April, before continuing in Brisbane’s Lyric Theatre in July. Starring Paulini, whose career was launched 14 years ago in the first season of TV's Australian Idol, the show combines the glitz, glamour and dance of live music with the drama of that famous love story between a star and the man hired to protect her.
Key dates: From 21 April 2017 (Sydney); from 19 July 2017 (Brisbane)
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