Whether you’re actually participating or just watching on, music and dance make you feel good. That’s why musical theatre is so popular in Australia, and why so many blockbuster productions make their way Downunder. Here are some of the hottest musicals right now and a few to keep an eye out for in the not-too-distant future. Book your stay for each production at ChoiceHotels.com.
1. Muriel’s Wedding the Musical (current)
Renowned as one of Australia’s most iconic and best loved films, Muriel’s Wedding the Musical had its world premiere in Sydney in November 2017. It’s been a resounding success everywhere ever since. So much so, that the production has returned to Sydney for a repeat season.
The show is colourful, savvy and humorous, and features 21 toe-tapping tunes – including six Abba hits. Maintaining creative control, PJ Hogan has adapted his book and film for the stage – successfully incorporating today’s social media culture, but without losing the story’s original appeal and much-lauded heart and soul.
The bright, energetic choreography and vivid costumes move in perfect harmony with the minimal, fast-changing staging. And while there’s some strong language and sexual references, the script is well-crafted and non-offensive. This is a show you can see multiple times. Enjoy!
Muriel’s Wedding the Musical is playing in Sydney until September, before moving on to Brisbane.
2. The Book of Mormon (current)
Co-created by Matt Stone and Trey Parker (of South Park fame) and Robert Lopez, the multi-award-winning The Book of Mormon musical has been playing to sold-out Broadway audiences since 2011, and in Australia since January 2017.
Not for the easily offended, this undeniably brilliant, cynical, controversial and outrageously funny production follows a pair of mismatched Mormon missionaries to the wilds of Uganda. Needless to say, nothing follows their perfectly mapped-out Mormon ways.
Surprisingly, even the Church of Latter-Day Saints have given their overall support to this ingenious, tongue-in-cheek musical, but with its explicit language, it’s only suitable for adult audiences. However, it proves that we all need to laugh at life to find our version of heaven.
The Book of Mormon opens in Perth in September and in Brisbane in January 2020.
3. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (current)
Based more on Roald Dahl’s 1964 book than the beloved 1971 film, the musical Charlie and the Chocolate Factory opened in Sydney in January 2019 and is now moving on to other Australian cities. It features well-known songs like Pure Imagination, The Candy Man and I’ve Got a Golden Ticket alongside a range of new feel-good, fun-loving tunes.
A huge audience favourite in London, the production wasn’t as well received by New Yorkers who gave it cooler, mixed reviews. However, Australians are loving the imagery, inventions, magical costumes and super sets. It’s a delicious and delectable sweet treat and one that will satisfy the entire family.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory opens in Melbourne in August 2019 and in Brisbane in March 2020.
4. Kiss of the Spider Woman (late 2019)
Winner of seven Tony Awards (including Best Musical), Kiss of the Spider Woman is based on Manuel Puig’s powerful and emotive 1976 novel and 1985 Oscar-winning film. Its inaugural professional mainstage Australian production will open at the Southbank Theatre in Melbourne in November 2019.
Set inside a South American prison during Argentina’s mid-1970s Dirty War, two men share a cell – one a Marxist revolutionary; the other, a gay window dresser. While the storyline is certainly not typical of musical theatre, the famed song writing duo of Kander and Ebb (Cabaret and Chicago) successfully pull off the unimaginable. This musical absolutely sizzles as it explores love and friendship under extreme circumstances.
The Melbourne production will star Caroline O’Connor as the fabulously exotic film-goddess Aurora.
Kiss of the Spider Woman opens in Melbourne on 18 November 2019.
5. Frozen (2020)
Since early 2018, Disney’s Frozen the musical has been wowing Broadway audiences with its magical songs and fantasy stagecraft, and it’s on its way to Australia. Based on Hans Christian Anderson’s famous fairy-tale The Snow Queen, the musical follows in the footsteps of the hit film of the same name – the highest grossing animated flick of all time.
Robert Lopez, co-creator of The Book of Mormon, wrote the original soundtrack for Frozen and adapted it for the stage. The choreography and special effects recreate the stunning scenic transformations reminiscent of the film, while the costume design adds that extra winter sparkle. This is magical fun for the whole family, with sisters Elsa and Anna melting yet more hearts.
Frozen will open in Sydney in July 2020.
6. Hamilton (2021)
It’s garnered critical acclaim since it opened Off-Broadway in 2015, and Hamilton is finally coming to Australia. The multiple Tony and Pulitzer Prize-winning musical dramatises the life of America’s first Secretary of the Treasury – Alexander Hamilton – an impoverished Caribbean-born immigrant. Among his many achievements, Hamilton founded the iconic New York Post newspaper.
Hamilton was written by Lin-Manuel Miranda and infuses a raw hip-hop style with classic Broadway musical traditions and brilliant, sweeping choruses. Seeing two congressmen in a political debate presented as a rap battle and having the lyrics ‘My name is Alexander Hamilton’ looping over and over in your mind the next day is extraordinary. This rollicking, epic production defines modern musical theatre, and its messages of passion, diversity, inclusivity and resistance from oppression are as relevant now as they were in Hamilton’s time.
Absolutely engrossing to watch, this show has been carefully crafted to keep you moving with every beat. Hamilton steals hearts and is well-deserving of the hype.
Hamilton will open in Sydney in March 2021.
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About the writer
Nannette Holliday was obviously born to travel – Holliday is her real name. A former TV and radio presenter, Nannette’s globetrotting has earned her the nickname ‘International Woman of Mystery’ amongst friends and acquaintances, while also providing a rich library of experiences to draw on creatively. Nannette writes for a variety of magazines, and even ghost-writes books for other people. It all helps keep her in the manner she has become accustomed to – indulging in world travel, food and wine!