|At the theatre in 2013|
Ladies and gentlemen of the ensemble: 2013 is going to be a bumper year at the theatre!
You've seen the movie(s), now see the musical! Following lengthy, successful runs on Broadway and in the West End, Legally Blonde is currently playing its out of town tryout in Sydney to generally positive reviews. The lovely and hard-working Lucy Durack, best known for her big break in the Australian tour of Wicked, brings all of her charm to the lead role. Also starring are: Rob Mills and David Harris (ladies: two reasons alone to see this show, and Lucy's former hunky cast-mates from Wicked), Helen Dallimore, Erica Heynatz, and Cameron Daddo.
With a fun score and many laughs to be had, hopefully LB will transfer to Melbourne mid-2013. They're also running a lottery before each show — which has become a trend for Australian musicals in recent years — where you can score two $30 tickets to the show by putting your name in a barrel two hours before the curtain. Count me in!
The Lion King
If you haven't seen, or at least heard of, this show, then surely you have been living under Pride Rock! Disney's The Lion King returns to Australian stages in 2013. The show last toured from 2003 to 2005, and will return to Sydney before no doubt coming back to Melbourne for an extended season.
You can say what you want about the Disneyfication of musicals and their theatrical dominance, but Lion King remains as one of the most entertaining evenings you'll experience in the theatre. Between the winning score and the breathtaking puppetry, take your grandmother and any stunt children you can find: everyone will enjoy themselves. Hakuna Matata!
Sunday in the Park with George
Victorian Opera is bringing back the classic Stephen Sondheim musical to the Victorian Arts Centre from July 2013. Featuring a superb theatre score, with some of Sondheim's most memorable songs, this is an excellent choice for this opera company.
Act one is set in 1884, around real-life painter Georges Seurat and his memorable canvas, 'A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grand Jatte'. Act two jumps forward to twentieth century Chicago, with the same principals playing descendants of those in the nineteenth century, again in the world of art. This Pulitzer prize-winning show promises to be a highlight of the Arts Centre's program next year.
Having celebrated its tenth anniversary in 2012, Magnormos, Melbourne's own musical theatre company, looks set to have a big year in 2013. They will be remounting the new Australian musical about The Mamas and The Papas, Flowerchildren, at the Comedy Theatre in Melbourne.
With a book by local theatre maven, Peter Fitzpatrick, and featuring many of the hits of Mama Cass and The Mamas and the Papas, this show was a hit at Melbourne's Theatreworks in St Kilda in 2011. Casey Donovan, a former Australian Idol winner, and in her first musical theatre performance, channelled Mama Cass to perfection. Hopefully, she will return with original cast members Matt Hetherington, Laura Fitzpatrick and Dan Humphris, for this encore season.
Stephen Schwartz Triptych
At the OzMade Musicals concert in August, it was exciting news to hear that Magnormos will be staging a trio Stephen Schwartz musicals in 2013 at the Melbourne Recital Centre. This follows the success of their Stephen Sondheim Triptych in 2011, and their Jerry Herman Triptych in 2012, at the same venue.
The three Schwartz shows to be presented are still under wraps and will be announced, along with casting, in the new year. There is much speculation as to the musicals that will be chosen. I'm voting for the shows Rags, Personals, and The Magic Show. I strongly suspect, though, that the program will include The Baker's Wife, which has a wonderful score, and Godspell, of which I'm not a big fan. The shows will be presented as one-night only performances over three Monday nights in September 2013, and Stephen Schwartz himself will be coming out to Australia for the season.
A play, you ask? Why yes: I do see straight theatre!
Warhorse has seen a number of incarnations. It started as the popular 1982 children's book by Michael Morpurgo. It was then adapted for the stage by Nick Stafford, and has seen huge success in London and New York. Most recently, it was made into a popular 2011 film by none other than Stephen Spielberg.
But the beauty and uniqueness of the stage production of Warhorse lies in the stunning portrayal of the horses, by actors using life-sized horse-figure puppets. We're very fortunate to be receiving this production from January 2013, based on the original London show. This engaging tale of a boy and his horse, and his adventures in the conflicts of World War One, is sure to move Melbourne audiences, if not by the story itself, then from the wonderful staging. This is a hot ticket show; I'm glad I booked mine ages ago.
Driving Miss Daisy
Speaking of hot theatre tickets, I've also already got mine for this tour of the Broadway play, Driving Miss Daisy. When you hear the names Angela Lansbury and James Earl Jones in the same sentence as 'Australian tour', well, I didn't even really need to be told what the play was!
You'll no doubt be familiar with the Oscar-winning 1989 film, Driving Miss Daisy, starring the equally wonderful Jessica Tandy and Morgan Freeman. The film was based on the play, which has had a sell-out revival on Broadway recently. Set in the deep south of America, it's the story of an older woman and her black driver. With the consummate skills and star power of the two leads, and a by-turns moving and amusing story, this show will sell out very quickly in it's tour of Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide.
One Man, To Guvnors
This is an Australian production of the comic play One Man, Two Guvnors. I've previously written about the filmed stage version of the original English production of this hilarious piece here. As Molly Meldrum would say: do yourself a favour! Honestly, this play is hilarious. It should be a stand-out of the 2013 Melbourne Theatre Company (MTC) season.
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
A reminder to get in and book for this Chitty, which I've previously written about here. This heart-warming musical is sure to delight. Who doesn't like a flying car on stage?!
Another reminder to get in and book for Kong, which is have its world premiere in Melbourne next year. I've also previously written about this show here. Excitement is definitely building for this show, especially since the large signage went up at The Regent Theatre, and after they released a lavish promotional video clip for the show.
The Addams Family
Addams Family is another show which will no doubt tickle our collective funny bones. I've previously written about here. Da da da da click click!
I Dreamed a Dream
People, three words: Susan Boyle musical. I've previously mentioned it here. Take your mother and your grandmother; thank me — or curse me — later.
I've previously written about Ghost here. Sadly, is appears that this production has been postponed indefinitely. The London production did quite well, but not so the New York one. And with a large budget required for the effects essential to the show — and that any professional musical staging is a hugely expensive affair — we may not see this show for some time.
I fear that this long-delayed/postponed stage musical version of the Australian movie may have disappeared from the theatrical radar. Strange Bedfellows had, by all accounts, a successful preview season in Albury, country Victoria, in 2011. I do wish now that I'd made the effort, and the long drive out, to see it.
Starring John Wood and Peter Cousens — in a humorous story of two men pretending to be in a relationship for tax purposes — the Bedfellows cast was rounded out by the equally wonderfully Lucy Durack and Melissa Langton. The website for this show has been taken down, and there seems no new word from actor/producer Spencer McLaren that this show will be staged in the near future. It's a pity, because this was to be a new Australian musical work, which showed much promise in its score and amusing storyline.
Like myself, many a show-tune queen has been waiting for an update on this long-rumoured new Australian production of Les Mis. Cameron Macintosh is still to make any further announcements about dates or theatres for a national tour. I would have thought 2013 would have been excellent timing for this show, if only to capitalise on the impending film version of the musical, featuring our own Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe.
Strictly Ballroom: The Musical
We've also been holding out for further information on a mounting of the stage musical version of the classic Australian film, Strictly Ballroom. A workshop was held in Sydney in 2010/2011, but news has been quiet since then. With Baz Luhrmann having been extremely busy with his film adaption of The Great Gatsby, it seems that the development of this show has been held up.
Latest word, though, is that producers for Strictly Ballroom are eyeing a September 2013 opening in Sydney. It seems the NSW government has been putting quite a bit of money and effort into encouraging musicals to open their runs in Sydney. Of course, this is wonderful news for Melbourne theatre fans, yet only if the shows get legs and tour. This hasn't been the case for a recent Australian premiere production like An Officer and a Gentlemen, which opened and closed in Sydney after a short run, apparently without recouping much of its investment.
And Afternoon with Stephen Sondheim
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum
My last theatre outings for 2012 will be Sondheim-related, which is wonderful news! Stephen Sondheim, musical theatre legend, is coming out to Australia for the Melbourne season his comedy musical, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.
Forum is currently playing at Her Majesty's Theatre. On Friday, 23 November, Sondheim will take the Forum stage, to be interviewed by Ray Martin. A variety of performers will also be on-hand to dazzle us with songs from his various shows. After two postponements of this event — Sondheim apparently suffered an injury and had to delay his flight out — there are many show-tune-queens poised with their autograph books for his arrival. Myself included!