Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge (Sydney Theatre Company, December 8-January 16) takes us to the Brooklyn waterfront, where, if done well (as in Iain Sinclair’s Red Line production, picked up by the Ensemble last year), it nails us to the backs of our seats. Rose Byrne’s return to the STC in company with her partner Bobby Cannavale (born a few miles from Brooklyn, in Union City) suggests director Kip Williams has a Beatrice and an Eddie more than equal to the task.
John Shand is a Sydney Morning Herald critic and has been reviewing theatre for more than two decades.
THE MUSICAL THEATRE STAN – MARK HUMPHRIES
Anyone who has heard the original Australian cast recording of The Secret Garden or saw it in 1995, would be clamouring for a ticket to hear Anthony Warlow reprise the role of Archibald Craven (Sydney Lyric, from August 2). I have spent 25 years listening to his duet on Lily’s Eyes with Philip Quast, so to experience that live will be a dream come true.
I’m also keen to see Merrily We Roll Along (Hayes Theatre, April 16-May 23), which is notoriously difficult to get right. Even the show’s creators, Steven Sondheim and Hal Prince, never really managed to make it a success in the States. But the cast album has lived on for almost 40 years and it’s such a strong score, so at the very least it will be wonderful to hear those songs and fascinating to see what they do with the production. And because it’s a Hayes show, you know they’ll give it a big swing. I still think about their extraordinary production of American Psycho last year. Alexander Berlage, who directed American Psycho, is doing Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein (Hayes Theatre, November 6-December 5) this year, too. I saw it in London two years ago and it was fine, but with the Hayes behind it, it’s bound to be something special and I’m sure Alexander will have some radical take on it.
Next up is Fun Home (Sydney Theatre Company, August 29-October 2). I was lucky enough to see the original Broadway production in 2015 and it has really stayed with me. There’s a song in the show called Ring of Keys, where Small Alison has the first inkling of her sexual identity. It’s just thrilling to watch and it’ll be a show-stopping moment for the young actress who gets to perform the song.
I’d also like to give a shout out to 9 to 5: The Musical (Sydney Lyric, from April 19) purely because Caroline O’Connor is in it. She is Australia’s greatest musical theatre performer and it’s always worth seeing anything she is in. And, finally, A Chorus Line (Darlinghurst Theatre Company, March 13-April 19). Musical theatre fans know Michael Bennett’s original choreography backwards, so it will be refreshing to see a production with entirely new choreography from director Amy Campbell.
When Mark Humpries isn’t busy satirising politicians on 7.30, he tweets his love of musicals at @MarksMusicals
THE EDITOR – LOUISE RUGENDYKE
At the beginning of each theatre year there’s already a creeping sense of FOMO – fear of missing out – because there’s just so much good stuff to choose from. Yes, you can accuse me of hyperbole, but c’mon (there’s no Lleyton Hewitt: The Musical yet, but you can see Newk! The John Newcombe Story at Glen Street Theatre, February 16-17), we are #blessed with talent. And with such a grim start to the year there’s no better time to sneak into a cheeky midweek matinee and sink into storytelling that’ll make you think, laugh, cry and sing.
I’m kicking off the year with The Deep Blue Sea (Sydney Theatre Company, February 4-March 7). Not only does Terence Rattigan’s mid-century story of love and hope have a top-notch cast – Marta Dusseldorp, Fayssal Bazzi and Paul Capsis – it’s directed by Paige Rattray who delivered two of the best shows of 2019, in Fangirls and The Beauty Queen of Leenane.
Sticking with awesome women, I’d watch Helen Thomson re-enact paint drying, so the updated ’70s farce No Pay? No Way! (Sydney Theatre Company, February 10-April 4) is a no-brainer, while Genevieve Hegney and Catherine Moore are back with a must-see sequel to their riotous 2018 hit, with Unqualified 2: Still Unqualified (Ensemble Theatre, September 29-October 24). Meanwhile, feminst icons for the preschool set, sisters Elsa and Anna, let it go in Frozen: The Musical (Capitol Theatre, from July 7. Don’t judge me, I have a three-year-old).
Mitchell Butel takes a break from his role as the artistic director of the State Theatre Company of South Australia and returns to the Sydney stage with cult comedy Dance Nation (Belvoir, March 14-April 12), in which the members of a high-school dance troupe are all played by adults. Sticking with the high school theme, if the stage adaptation of the teenage Swedish vampire thriller Let the Right One In is as good as John Ajvide Lindqvist’s 2004 novel, it will be a heartbreaking – and bloody – night at Darlinghurst Theatre (September 11-October 11).
And, finally, two quick musical picks – Come From Away (State Theatre, from August 8) turns 9/11 tragedy into a 9/12 story of kindness and strong Newfoundland accents and after last year’s sell-out season at the Hayes Theatre, Monty Python’s supremely silly Spamalot returns with a quick stop in Parramatta on their national tour (Riverside Theatres, March 19-22).
Louise Rugendyke edits S and, somehow, is genuinely looking forward to Frozen: The Musical.
Louise is Editor of S and TV Liftout at The Sun-Herald
John Shand has written about music and theatre since 1981 in more than 30 publications, including for Fairfax Media since 1993. He is also a playwright, author, poet, librettist, drummer and winner of the 2017 Walkley Arts Journalism Award