Music by Giuseppe Verdi. Librettist: Temistocle Solera. Co-production by Teatro alla Scala and Opera Australia. Joan Sutherland Theatre, Opera Australia. March 2020.

Just when you thought Opera Australia couldn’t possibly squeeze any more opulence onto the stage of the Joan Sutherland Theatre, along comes this mind-boggling production of Verdi’s second opera.

Attila was composed by Verdi in his early 30s before he produced his long list of blockbusters.  This Australian premiere of the opera was made possible by a co-production with the famous La Scala in Milan, where it was first staged in 2018 and attracted great adulation. 

Jekyll and Hyde

By Leslie Bricusse and Frank Wildhorn. Laughing Horse Productions. Directed by Zoe Jay, musical direction by Liam House. Don Russell Performing Arts Centre, WA. March 13-21, 2020

Laughing Horse Productions’ Jekyll and Hyde opened on Friday 13th, which seemed a perfect date for the opening of this very dark musical. Unfortunately, was the day that the Prime Minister announced the recommendation that large events be cancelled following the weekend - setting off a rash of cancelled shows, uncertainty and fear within the theatre community.


Music and Lyrics: Meredith Stepien & Mark Swiderski. Book: Nick Lang, Matt Lang & Brian Holden. Spotlight Basement Theatre, Ashmore, Gold Coast. Director: Mitchell Walsh. March 13 – 28, 2020

Firebringer deals with climate change but from a very different point of view. To quote the director’s notes, “Firebringer tackles the current climate crisis with an almost stupid, low-brow and idiotic humour” and as such may not appeal to everyone.

Set around the dawn of civilisation, the story is presented in a way that makes much use of a number of swear words (which were the creation of a more recent age).

The Bridges of Madison County

Book by Marsha Norman. Music and Lyrics by Jason Robert Brown. Based on the novel by Robert James Waller. Hayes Theatre Company. Directed by Neil Gooding. March 6 – April 5, 2020

This musical is like a good slow cooking recipe. You add all the ingredients, leave it in a pot and come back hours later, where the lamb is falling off the bone. Many aspects of the production are very tasty. The music by Jason Robert Brown has a mixture of folk, country, pop and operatic influences. It’s easy to see why It won Tony Awards in 2014 for its score and orchestrations. The five piece ensemble assembled for the production by Musical Director Geoffrey Castles allowed the musical juices to stew sumptuously, as the temperature on stage heated up.

Two Crews

By Nick Power. Lady Rocks & Riddim Nation. Adelaide Festival. Space Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre. 10-14 March, 2020

Two Crews is a thrilling and joyous hip-hop dance collaboration between two different hip-hop groups – Lady Rocks and Riddim Nation– with wonderful choreography by Australian hip-hop master, Nick Power.

Emerald City

By David Williamson. Directed by Sam Strong. MTC Southbank Theatre, The Sumner, 140 Southbank Blvd, Southbank. 6 March – 18 April, 2020.

David Williamson’s plays often provide a microscopic view of some of the more staunch Anglo-Celtic aspects of Australian culture. The incisive manner in which he dissects some of the questionable aspects of stereotypical Australian characteristics shows a discomfort with the way they expose parochial attitudes and behaviours. Emerald City examines the film and publishing industries but echo many of Williamson’s own personal experiences of being a writer who is caught up in the cultural rivalry between Sydney and Melbourne.

Elegies – A Song Cycle

Music & Lyrics: William Finn. Director: Jason Langley. Musical Director: Heidi Loveland. Choreographer: Joseph Simons. Griffith University Musical Theatre Students, Burke Street Studio, Woolloongabba, Qld. 10-14 Mar 2020

William Finn’s Elegies has love, loss, and a smattering of humor in its life-loving song cycle of family (particularly Jewish New Yorkers), friends and acquaintances. Using 9/11 as his jumping off point and also reflecting on the AIDS crisis, the songs chronicle the lives of those Finn has loved and those who have died in tunes that are melodic, catchy, and tellingly simple. Normally staged with a cast of five, this production uses twenty-three on basically a bare stage except for four meccano-like towers on which the cast pin photos of the characters they sing about.

Voices of St Petersburg

More Than Opera. Conductor: Alan Cook. Melbourne Town Hall – March 10, 2020 & Sydney Town Hall – March 14, 2020

More Than Opera is a small opera company which specialises in introducing opera in innovative ways to people who might otherwise not get to experience the art form. Artistic director, Alan Cook, who, during his European career had extensive experience conducting operas in Russia, had invited four of Russia’s finest for concerts in Melbourne and Sydney.

He brought together a 65 piece orchestra and presented an all-Russian program. It was excellent!

The Artist

Adelaide Festival. Circo Aereo. Adelaide College of Arts, Main Theatre. March 9 – 14, 2020.

If you are looking for an Adelaide Festival show that is a lot of fun and suitable for all ages, look no further than Circo Aereo’s The Artist.

An artist, obscured by a large canvas, is working in a shabby studio, complete with paint splattered floor, grubby curtains and sickly pot-plant. Inspiration has escaped him and he spends the next hour trying to recapture it in all manner of entertaining antics.

The Hitmen

By Mish Wittrup. Theatre Works and Baker’s Dozen Theatre. Theatre Works, St Kilda. March 4 – 14, 2020

The Hitmen is riddled with surprises, shocks and some fun local and popular culture references.  It is a great, lively, clever, imaginative play by Mish Wittrup, that keeps everyone on their toes.   

A handful of people come to a job interview for the position of Hitman for K O C (Australia’s largest agency of contract killers and assassins).  The stakes are very high as there is only one position and all rejects will be eliminated.

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