What to look out for in 2018: performing arts

Richard Watts

We’ve scoured season brochures and websites for the upcoming year; here are some of the many productions and performances we advise you to note in your diary.
What to look out for in 2018: performing arts

Glyndebourne Festival Opera’s Hamlet at Adelaide Festival. Photo by Richard Hubert Smith.

No one writer can do justice to the full spectrum of work presented in Australia’s theatres, concert halls, parks and pop-up venues in a single year. But we’ve tried.

There will be oversights – some companies, such as the Tasmanian Theatre Company and Canberra’s Street Theatre, have yet to launch their 2018 seasons; keep them and other organisations in mind when you set to planning for the year ahead.

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Independent artists also tend to stage work on a more ad-hoc basis, funding and venue confirmation permitting. For snapshots of work in cities such as Brisbane and Sydney, keep an eye on development programs such as La Boite HWY and the Step Up Festival at Kings Cross Theatre; the latter venue has fast become essential to Sydney’s independent theatre sector.

But for a snapshot of what looks tempting and outstanding across the nation in 2018, read on.

Adelaide Fringe
www.adelaidefringe.com.au
16 February – 18 March

Featuring some 1223 events across 442 venues, and involving over 6,000 artists – as well as hundreds of talented techs, stage managers and others – the Adelaide Fringe is Australia’s largest arts festival. New initiatives at the Fringe this year include the introduction of the Friends of the Adelaide Fringe Artist Fund initiative, which uses money raised from Fringe patrons to provide free show tickets to disadvantaged children, as well as hundreds of new performances and productions. Picking what to see from among so many performances is always challenging; we recommend starting with some cabaret – perhaps the South Australian premiere of the fierce and fabulously feminist Betty Grumble: LOVE & ANGER (or Sex Clown Saves the World AGAIN!) or the superb Mother’s Ruin, a show as educational as it is entertaining – and then see where you go from there.

Also recommended: Festivals are a great way of seeing and supporting new work, or recent productions from instate that might not otherwise have an opportunity to tour. You’ve probably got the likes of Sydney Festival (6-28 January), Perth Festival (9 February – 4 March), Dark Mofo (15–24 June) and Darwin Festival (9-26 August) in your diary but there are plenty of other festivals to consider.

Supercell: Festival of Contemporary Dance Brisbane runs from mid-February, and presents a range of new and recently staged dance works, including Bundjalung/Wiradjuri choreographer and dancer Thomas E.S. Kelly’s [MIS}conceive, a high-energy work combining Indigenous knowledge with contemporary movement. In Melbourne, there’s the Festival of Live Art (FOLA) running from 13-25 March across three venues, Arts House, Theatre Works and Footscray Community Arts Centre and presenting an array of arresting and immersive works, as well as Next Wave (3-20 May), featuring a new generation of risk-taking and experimental artists.

Elsewhere, Canberra International Music Festival runs from 27 April – 6 May, featuring a wealth of early music, including masterpieces of the baroque as well as classical music on period instruments. In South Australia, the inaugural Adelaide Dance Festival will be held from 8-21 July 2018; and in Tasmania, Launceston’s Junction Arts Festival (5-9 September) and The Uncomformity (19–21 October) should also be in your diary. 

Astroman
Melbourne Theatre Company, 27 October – 8 December
http://www.mtc.com.au/plays-and-tickets/season-2018/astroman/

Chances are, anyone who attended the 2015 and 2016 National Play Festivals left with a hunger for more, fresh New Zealand playwriting. That appetite will be sated by this engaging MTC production by Maori playwright Albert Belz, developed through Playwriting Australia and set in Geelong in the 1980s. Koori kid Jimmy Djalu is the local genius – at Galaga – but his mum knows he’s capable of so much more. Part coming of age comedy, part family drama about courageously embracing change, Astroman promises to be heartfelt, charming, and very, very funny.

Also recommended: An exciting range of First Nations works have been programmed on Australian stages this year, including Queensland Theatre’s and the Bani family’s My Name is Jimi at Belvoir, co-presented with Sydney Festival (5-21 January); Ngarrindjeri writer H. Lawrence Sumner’s The Long Forgotten Dream at STC (23 July – 25 August); Nakkiah Lui’s live-action, bad-arse, blaxploitation superhero comic book Blackie Blackie Brown: The Traditional Owner of Death (Wharf 2 Theatre, 12 May – 30 June and Malthouse Theatre, 5 – 29 July) and the touring production of Jane Harrison’s Stolen, a National Theatre of Parramatta production directed by Vicki Van Hout (see website for tour details).  

Blasted
Malthouse, 24 August – 16 September
http://malthousetheatre.com.au/whats-on/blasted

Sarah Kane’s brief but brilliant career sent shockwaves through the theatrical landscape following the debut of her first full-length play, Blasted. When it opened at the Royal Court Theatre Upstairs in January 1995, conservative critics such as The Telegraph’s Charles Spencer (‘meretricious rubbish produced by a young writer with an adolescent desire to shock’) and the Daily Mail’s Jack Tinker (‘a systematic trawl through the deepest pits of human degradation … utterly without dramatic merit’) frothed in apoplectic horror at a play which was both formally and thematically adventurous.

A decade later, many such critics had reassessed Kane’s work, as Blasted’s original director, James Macdonald, noted at the time of her death. ‘It is easy to misread a tone you don't recognise, and completely new forms often create a strong emotional and intellectual response,’ he wrote in The Observer, going on to add that Kane ‘wrote directly from her own experience and from her heart. And she had the most beautiful heart.’ Today, Blasted is viewed as one of the landmark works of modern British theatre, and in August, Melbourne audiences will have an opportunity to assess the play for themselves, in a new production directed by the virtuosic Anne-Louise Sarks.

Also recommended: From Caryl Churchill’s Top Girls at the STC, directed by Imara Savage (12 February – 24 March) and Ray Lawler’s Summer of the Seventeenth Doll at Black Swan (5-20 May) to August Strindberg’s The Dance of Death at Belvoir (10 November – 23 December) directed by Judy Davis and starring Colin Friels, Pamela Rabe and Toby Schmitz, there are no shortage of classic works on Australian stages this year. And while it may be too soon yet to call Picnic at Hanging Rock, adapted by Tom Wright and directed by Matt Lutton, a classic, it’s a pleasure to see this 2016 production return to Malthouse stage for an encore season (6-14 February) before heading to the Barbican in London.

Dracula
West Australian Ballet, 6 – 22 September
https://waballet.com.au/whats-on/dracula/

The world premiere of a new, neo-classical ballet based on Bram Stoker’s original gothic novel, Dracula is created by the West Australian Ballet in close collaboration with Krzysztof Pastor – one of the world’s most highly awarded choreographers, and with more than 50 ballet works to his name. Expect dramatic dance and dark passion from this co-production with Queensland Ballet.

Also recommended: Balletomanes are spoiled for choice in 2018, with highlights including the return of Queensland Ballet’s Bespoke, featuring new choreography from the likes of Amy Hollingsworth, the award-winning Stephanie Lake and Queensland Ballet artist Jack Lister (10-12 February); Murphy, a celebration of one of Australia’s foremost choreographers, Graeme Murphy, including a revival of his vividly reimagined Firebird paired with highlights from his stellar career (Melbourne 16-26 March and Sydney 6-23 April), and a muscular new production of slave revolt in The Australian Ballet’s Spartacus, choreographed by Lucas Jervies and featuring sets and costumes by Jérôme Kaplan (Melbourne 18-29 September and Sydney 9-24 November).

Hamlet
Adelaide Festival, 2-6 March
www.adelaidefestival.com.au/2018/hamlet

Of all the opera productions being staged in Australia in 2018, Neil Armfield’s production of Brett Dean’s Hamlet at the Adelaide Festival – the first new opera commissioned by the UK’s Glyndebourne Festival Opera in almost a decade – is surely the most anticipated. Praised by Limelight as ‘emotionally powerful and entirely cohesive,’ the Brisbane raised and trained Dean’s second opera after Bliss (2010) is a ‘total work of art [that] cries out to be seen and heard,’ according to The Arts Desk. Its short Adelaide season features a stellar cast of Australian and international artists, including British tenor Allan Clayton in the title role, with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra’s Nicholas Carter conducting.

Also recommended: Opera devotees should also keep their eyes out for a work-in-progress showing of the new Australian opera Ned Kelly (to premiere in 2019) at Callaway Music Auditorium on Sunday 25 February, presented by Lost and Found Opera and Perth Festival; composer Damien Ricketson’s The Howling Girls at Sydney’s Carriageworks in late March, a world premiere from Sydney Chamber Opera; and the Australian premiere of Rossini’s William Tell (1829) in July, courtesy of the Victorian Opera.

The Harp in the South Parts I & II
Sydney Theatre Company, 16 August — 6 October
https://www.sydneytheatre.com.au/whats-on/productions/2018/the-harp-in-the-south

Sometimes it takes an outsider to do justice to a city. Published in 1948, expatriate New Zealander Ruth Park’s literary debut, The Harp in the South, is an insightful novel about Sydney and its people. ‘Park wrote one of the most distinctive and enduring books about her adopted hometown,’ says novelist and essayist Delia Falconer. ‘Everything is exceptionally energetic, intensely felt, and endowed with a sense of distinct locality.’ Set in the slums of Surry Hills, and exploring the travails of the Darcy family, the book has proved enduringly popular, and inspired both a sequel – 1949’s Poor Man's Orange – and a prequel, Missus, published in 1985.

Following successful television adaptations in the Sixties and the Eighties, the latest adaptation of Park’s beloved trilogy comes to the Roslyn Packer Theatre in the second half of the year. With a script by Kate Mulvany (Masquerade, Jasper Jones) and directed by Kip Williams, this promises to be a richly engaging production – a quintessential Sydney story for the ages.

Also recommended: Stories of and about Sydney seem to be in vogue this year. The Hayes Theatre opens its 2018 season this week with a revival of the Australian musical Darlinghurst Nights, an evocation of Kings Cross in the 1930s based on the poems of Kenneth Slessor; the lives of Sydney’s disenfranchised teens are explored at the New Theatre in March in a new production of Lachlan Philpott’s 2012 play Silent Disco; while at Belvoir in May, Alana Valentine’s Pyrmont-set The Sugar House tells a story of family life and social change as Sydney’s inner suburbs continue to move away from their working class roots.

Red Stitch's Hir. Image by Work Art Life Studios and Black Photography

Hir
Red Stitch, 30 January – 4 March
https://redstitch.net/gallery/hir/
Black Swan State Theatre Company, 10 — 27 May
https://www.bsstc.com.au/plays/hir

Two productions in one year of Taylor Mac’s Hir (a gender-neutral pronoun used instead of ‘her’ and ‘him’ by some in the trans community, though Mac prefers ‘judy’) suggest that judy’s star is still very much on the rise. Hot on the heels of Mac’s critically acclaimed A 24-Decade History of Popular Music at Melbourne Festival in October, both Red Stitch and Black Swan have programmed Hir for 2018, ‘a beautiful family play about a dysfunctional family,’ and a darkly comic exploration of the dramatic cultural shifts taking place in Western society. The Melbourne season, directed by Daniel Clarke, has been programmed as part of Midsumma, a queer cultural festival; Zoe Pepper directs the Perth season, in the Studio Underground.

Also recommended: Queer-themed works, including explorations of sexuality and gender, are very much in vogue this year. Among those productions to have caught our eye are Tommy Murphy’s Strangers in Between, a touching drama about how we construct new families for ourselves from the people around us, playing at Melbourne’s fortyfivedownstairs for Midsumma and Sydney’s Seymour Centre for Mardi Gras; a drag king cabaret/play about Joan of Arc, JOAN, from UK company Milk Presents, at the Seymour Centre and also playing Fringe World; gender transcendent diva, jazz singer and cabaret artiste Mama Alto’s Queerly Beloved at Chapel off Chapel for Midsumma Festival and at the Red Rattler for Mardi Gras; the charming and touching Fag/Stag by Perth company The Last Great Hunt at Griffin Theatre; acclaimed lesbian musical comedy Romeo is Not the Only Fruit at Malthouse Theatre as part of Melbourne International Comedy Festival; and from the camp, colourful and clever Little Ones Theatre and Theatre Works, The Nightingale and the Rose, a lush, gothic fable from the pen of Oscar Wilde. 

Hungry Ghosts
3-19 May
http://www.mtc.com.au/plays-and-tickets/season-2018/hungry-ghosts/

Playwright Jean Tong’s debut play for a state theatre company, Hungry Ghosts, was developed with the support of The Cybec Foundation through MTC’s Cybec Electric play reading series as part of Asia TOPA 2017. Tong, who describes herself as ‘creating politically irreverent works about the untidiness of cultural identification, structural inequality, and Otherness,’ has woven together several narrative threads – including the disappearance of flight MH370 and Malaysia’s billion-dollar 1MDB scandal – to create an imaginative, humorous and rebellious new play which premieres as this year’s MTC Education production.

Also recommended: New works by a fresh generation of writers – many of them from culturally diverse backgrounds – continue to make headway on Australian stages. Michelle Law’s Single Asian Female makes its way to Belvoir in February, following a successful premiere season at La Boite last year; Hmong-Australian playwright Michele Lee’s comedy on the contradictions of Melbournian multiculturalism, Going Down, opens at the Malthouse in May, while Rani Pramesti’s Surat-Surat (Letters) is in development through Arts House’s CultureLAB, with presentation dates yet to be confirmed.

In the Club
State Theatre Company SA, 23 February — 18 March
http://statetheatrecompany.com.au/shows/in-the-club/

For far too long, Patricia Cornelius (SHIT, Slut, Savages, Do Not Go Gentle) has been the most acclaimed Australian playwright overlooked by mainstage companies. In 2018, that finally changes. Cornelius has been commissioned by the STCSA to write a new play, In the Club; a powerful unpacking of women in the men’s world of elite football. Combining her vivid, poetic vernacular with verbatim accounts of women who have firsthand experience of the boys’ clubs of modern sport, Cornelius’s latest script promises to be as electrifying, confronting and relevant as anything she has written to date.

Also recommended: Fans of Patricia Cornelius will also be keen to see her new Lorca adaptation for the MTC, The House of Bernada Alba (directed by Leticia Cáceres and opening in late May) and in Sydney, a new production of her 2005 play, Love, directed by Rachel Chant for Darlinghurst Theatre Company in November.

It's Not For Everyone
Sydney Festival, 12–15 January
https://www.sydneyfestival.org.au/2018/not-for-everyone

The antithesis of Cirque du Soleil, Albury-based company acrobat present sparse yet substantial circus works, the latest of which brings an expressionistic edge to familiar clowning techniques. An absurdist exploration of aging that remains deeply human and displays virtuosic technique, while also documenting acrobat’s embracing of other art forms as well middle age, It’s Not For Everyone is ‘fiercely original, unpredictably abstract theatre,’ according to RealTime. Sure to be a Sydney Festival highlight for adventurous audiences.

Also recommended: Sydney Festival’s lauded focus on circus arts includes a number of well received shows, including Model Citizens by Circus Oz (described by this writer as ‘thrilling, delightful and judiciously paced’) and Gravity and Other Myths’ latest work, Backbone (‘The craft and intelligence of this production … is exceptional,’ I said of its Melbourne Festival season in October). Members of the circus industry are also catered for at the festival with a series of creative labs, forums and a youth circus symposium.

Elsewhere, keep an eye out for Poached Eggs & Asparagus’ Party Ghost at Fringe World, Perth from 2-7 February (one of ArtsHub’s most outstanding shows of 2017); Jess Love’s award-winning solo show, Notorious Strumpet & Dangerous Girl, also at Fringe World (14-17 February); the world premiere of Peepshow, a new Circa production at NORPA in Lismore (22-24 March); the youth circus-focused Catapult Festival in Bathurst, NSW (18-22 April); a tour across Canberra, Victoria and NSW for the Flying Fruit Fly Circus’ Junk in March-April; and a fusion of circus and symphonic music with MSO and Circus Oz at Melbourne’s Hamer Hall (7-8 September).

The 2018 Circus Oz tent show, directed by Kate Fryer and with the working title Botanic, opens in Birrarung Marr in late June, while the company’s collaboration with Die Roten Punkte, The Strange and Spektakulär Lives of Otto & Astrid, opens at Melbourne’s Comedy Theatre in mid-July. Finally, from 9-15 December, keep an eye out for Borderville, an annual celebration of all things circus by the Flying Fruit Fly Circus and friends in Albury-Wodonga.

Photography by Guy Vivien.

Jean-Efflam Bavouzet
Perth Festival, 24 February
https://www.perthfestival.com.au/event/jean-efflam-bavouzet

With his bright and insightful playing, Jean-Efflam Bavouzet is one of the world’s leading classical pianists, and particularly praised for his mastery of French repertoire. In a four-hour concert for Perth Festival, Bavouzet shares his love of the music of Debussy, providing a comprehensive musical portrait as well as offering enlightening commentary about the composer’s work. There can be few pianists better positioned to bring Debussy’s work to life; as the Financial Times said of Bavouzet, ‘he makes you listen to music as if you are discovering it Eureka!-style: yes, that’s what the composer must have meant.’

Also recommended: A wide range of orchestral, symphonic and classical performances are featured throughout 2018, from the epic to the intimate. Highlights include the 10-concert series Crescendo at Sydney Opera House, focusing on the classical stars of tomorrow and new and rarely-performed repertoire, with a particular focus on the work of female composers and performers (11 February – 16 December); Sir Andrew Davis conducting Melbourne Symphony Orchestra for Elgar’s rarely performed The Dream of Gerontius (8 & 10 March); Musica Viva’s national tour of the Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra, under the Musical Direction of lead violinist Elisa Citterio and utilising spoken word, projected images and period instruments to bring Bach and His World to life (19 May - 4 June); a gala performance of Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde as part of the West Australian Symphony Orchestra’s celebration of their 90th year (16 &19 August) ; the Australian debut of Swiss guitarist Christoph Denoth with the Melbourne Chamber Orchestra in España!, a celebration of the music of Spain (6 & 9 September); and the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra’s The Burning Violin with Italy's leading baroque violinist Stefano Montanari (5-16 September).

Lost Boys
Merrigong Theatre Company, 23 May – 02 June
http://merrigong.com.au/shows/lost-boys.html

The epidemic of homophobic hate crimes which occurred in NSW throughout the 1980s and 90s – and which resulted in at least 30 murders that remain unsolved today – is the subject of Lost Boys, the latest play by award-winning Australian playwright Lachlan Philpott (Silent Disco, The Trouble with Harry). Commissioned and developed by Merrigong Theatre Company, the play honours lives lost and asks how perpetrators of violent crimes can live with their past deeds. Leland Kean directs a cast that includes Jackson Davis and Lucy Heffernan.  

Also recommended: Australia’s regional companies continue to kick above their weight. Other works to watch out for in 2018 include HotHouse Theatre’s collaboration with Sport For Jove, The River at the End of the Road, a new play by Caleb Lewis and a rare large-scale production developed for Albury-Wodonga audiences (9-17 March); NORPA’s Wildskin, an exploration of the darkness that dwells within us all, featuring an all-female cast (27 September – 6 October); The Climbing Tree by Rachael Coopes, produced by Bathurst Memorial Entertainment Centre in association with ATYP and exploring the lives of generations of Bathurst teenagers in a work describe as part music, part drama, part ghost story (Bathurst 2-6 November and Parramatta 31 October – 24 November); and (Generation 3) Sleeplessness, a new Australian work co devised by Karen Therese and Chris Ryan that’s part mystery, part documentary, part forensic investigation of the often impact of migration and institutionalisation on families in Western Sydney (13-22 September).

The Mathematics of Longing
La Boite, 2- 3 June
http://laboite.com.au/the-mathematics-of-longing/  

Dance-theatre productions come sometimes fall between the cracks, being neither pure dance nor pure theatre – which makes this new collaboration between Brisbane’s La Boite and the Gold Coast’s The Farm all the more intriguing. With a script by Suzie Miller (Snow White, Medea), and co-created and performed by Kate Harman, Todd MacDonald and Gavin Webber, The Mathematics of Longing promises to blend art and physics, science and longing, in an ambitious and compelling new work. 

Also recommended: For devotees of contemporary dance, there’s much to welcome in 2018, including the return of the biennial Kier Choreographic Award, featuring new works by the eight semi-finalists over two programs at Melbourne’s Dancehouse (6-10 March) before the finals are held at Sydney’s Carriageworks (15-17 March). Other highlights include Lucy Guerin Inc’s Split at Adelaide Festival (2-5 March); Marrugeku's Burrbgaja Yalirra (Dancing Forwards): Three Short Worksmarking the company's first Broome premiere (31 May - 2 June) before a season at Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts (7-16 June); the world premiere of Alison Currie’s Concrete Impermanence, a meditation on what it means to be human presented by Adelaide Festival Centre and Insite Arts and featuring captions and audio descriptions at every performance (17-18 May); the latest work from Bangarra, Dark Emu, playing in Sydney, Canberra, Perth, Brisbane and Melbourne (14 June – 15 September; the participatory dance festival Big Dance 2018, a celebration of dance for all ages and all levels of ability; the premiere of The Beginning of Nature, the latest work from Garry Stewart and Australian Dance Theatre, at the Canberra Theatre Centre (14-15 June) before opening in Adelaide (11-14 July) and touring nationally, and much more. 

Vaishnavi Suryaprakash, Yalin Ozucelik & Hazem Shammas in Belvoir’s Sami in Paradise. Photo by Daniel Boud.

Sami in Paradise
Belvoir, 1-29 April
https://belvoir.com.au/productions/sami-in-paradise/

Banned by the Soviet Union within four years of being written, Nikolai Erdman’s The Suicide is a provocative tragicomedy about an unemployed man who comes to realise that he’s worth more dead than alive. In this new adaptation of the play, directed by Belvoir AD Eamon Flack and with a cast including Vaishnavi Suryaprakash, Yalin Ozucelik and Hazem Shammas, the action is transposed from Stalinist Russia to the modern world, where statelessness has become commonplace and refugee camps are the new limbo. Expect comedy of the blackest hue.

Also recommended: Contemporary topics are explored in a range of productions this year, including Kill Climate Deniers at Griffin (23 February - 7 April), the long-awaited premiere of Canberra playwright David Finnigan’s satirical play about climate change; Justin Fleming’s Dresden at Kings Cross Theatre, a chilling look at the flowering of fascism (16 June – 7 July); and an interrogation of the Great Australian Silence in Trustees at the Malthouse, written by Natalia Kaliada and Nicolai Khalezin (Directors of Belarus Free Theatre) with Daniel Schlusser and the cast (28 September – 21 October).

Skylab
Black Swan & Yirra Yaakin, 16 August — 2 September
https://www.bsstc.com.au/plays/skylab

An extract from Skylab – a new Australian play by Wangkathaa woman Melodie Reynolds-Diarra – performed at the 2016 National Playwriting Festival, was thrilling, ambitious and wildly imaginative. It now receives a full production in this new collaboration between Black Swan State Theatre Company and Yirra Yaakin Theatre Company, directed by Yirra Yaakin AD, Kyle J Morrison. Comedy meets conspiracy in what promises to be one of the most original and magical theatre productions of the year.

Also recommended: Co-productions between theatre companies allow for a wide range of works to be staged across state lines, allowing for longer engagements for cast and crew. Co-pros to watch out for this year include The Belvoir and Malthouse production Bliss, based on the novel by Peter Carey and continuing the fruitful partnership between director Matt Lutton and playwright Tom Wright that has previously offered up Picnic at Hanging Rock and The Elephant Man; the Malthouse and Queensland Theatre co-pro Good Muslim Boy by Osamah Sami, directed and co-adapted by Janice Muller; and Jada Alberts’ Brothers Wreck, a Malthouse-STCSA co-production.

Twelfth Night
Queensland Theatre, 28 April - 19 May
http://www.queenslandtheatre.com.au/Shows/18-Twelfth-Night

It’s Shakespeare, but not as you know it. Following the success of Queensland Theatre’s 2015 musical, Ladies in Black, the company have once again teamed up with singer-songwriter Tim Finn (Split Enz, Crowded House), this time for a production of Twelfth Night. Finn has written all new songs for this enduring comedy about gender play, mistaken identity and separated twins, which has been entertaining audiences since 1602. Artistic Director Sam Strong directs a cast including Jason Klarwein, Christen O’Leary and Jessica Tovey, and with a striking design by Tracy Grant Lord.

Also recommended: Audiences have a plethora of musicals to choose from in 2018. The Book of Mormon transfers to Sydney Lyric Theatre in late February and running through to at least June, following a popular Melbourne season; The Wizard of Oz, featuring new songs by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber, continues its run at Sydney’s Capitol Theatre until 4 February before transferring to Adelaide for four weeks from 3 April, before heading on to Melbourne from 15 May; and after a successful Canberra season, Mamma Mia! continues its Brisbane run until 4 February before transferring to Sydney, Perth and Melbourne before concluding its run in Adelaide in October.

Beautiful: The Carole King Musical begins its Melbourne run on 16 February; STC’s Muriel’s Wedding concludes its hugely successful Sydney season on 27 January, with future seasons doubtless under negotiation, while the 10th anniversary season of Priscilla Queen of the Desert begins in Melbourne in January before touring to Sydney, Adelaide and Brisbane. And in September, the fruitful partnership between Opera Australia and impresario John Frost continues with a revival of the Hal Price’s original Broadway production of Evita, starring Tina Arena.  

On a more intimate scale, One Eyed Man Productions in association with Neglected Musicals and Hayes Theatre Co are touring Calamity Jane in 2018, beginning at Riverside Theatre, Parramatta from 21-25 February before heading onto venues including Belvoir, Canberra Theatre Centre, and Arts Centre Melbourne. The Hayes Theatre once more hosts a number of musicals this year, including Lin Manuel Miranda’s Tony award-winning In the Heights; Jean Tong’s star-crossed lesbian musical, Romeo is Not the Only Fruit has an encore season at the Malthouse as part of Melbourne International Comedy Festival; Gilligan’s Island: The Musical plays Melbourne’s Chapel off Chapel from 15 February – 4 March; while The Production Company, whose revival of Brigadoon last year was highly acclaimed, have thus far only announced 2018 season dates and not the productions that will fill those slots.  

 

About the author

Richard Watts is ArtsHub's Performing Arts Editor and Team Leader, Editorial; he also presents the weekly program SmartArts on community radio station Three Triple R.

The founder of the Emerging Writers' Festival, Richard currently serves on the board of literary journal Going Down Swinging and on the Committee of Management for La Mama Theatre. He is a former member of the Green Room Awards Independent Theatre panel, a life member of the Melbourne Queer Film Festival, and in 2017 was awarded the status of Melbourne Fringe Festival Living Legend.

Follow Richard on Twitter: @richardthewatts

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