Music Theatre

2013 Music Theatre Year in Review

Boutique productions abounded this year, highlighting the expensive risk of full-scale commercial productions. Fortunately, smaller budgets for sets and costumes have no impact on the quality of the performances, with compelling acting and glorious singing found in many a small scale show.

The Addams Family Australia

In a roar heard around the world, new musical King Kong made its world premiere in June, settling in for a successful nine month run. Next stop: Broadway. The Australian tour of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang gave the Mary Poppins crowd a new family musical to enjoy. Sydney attracted the Australian premiere of The Addams Family, but despite the quality of the production it did not tour. The Sydney premiere season of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels featured a stellar cast and earned killer reviews.

King Kong, Full Moon Lullaby, Esther Hannaford

Full of colour and movement, and an abundance of nostalgia, the return tours of perennial party favourite Grease and toe-tapping tuner Hot Shoe Shuffle gave audiences plenty to smile about.

Hot Shoe Shuffle Melbourne, Tap Brothers jumping on tables

The Production Company made a sensational start to their 2013 offerings when Gale Edwards returned to direct classic backstage musical Gypsy, featuring an earthshattering performance from Caroline O’Connor as Rose. TPC followed this with the stage adaption of movie musical Singin’ in the Rain (sans rain) and the Broadway version of perennial Gilbert and Sullivan favourite The Pirates of Penzance. Magnormos presented a classy triptych of Stephen Schwartz musicals, beginning with the musically updated version of Godspell, followed by Pippin and the rarely seen Children of Eden.

Pippin Magnormos 2013 Luigi Lucente, Rohan Browne

Victorian Opera surprised Melbourne audiences with a superb, but all too short, season of Sunday in the Park with George. Fast emerging Sydney group Squabbalogic presented the Australian premiere of cult classic Carrie. HIT Productions presented a massive VIC/NSW/QLD tour of husband and wife team Scott Irwin and Danielle Barnes in the classic Neil Simon/MarvinHamlisch/Carole Bayer Sager musical They’re Playing Our Song.

Carrie, Squabbalogic finale

Favourites from previous years continued their tours, while others made return visits. At the tail end of a phenomenally successful for-year tour, Jersey Boys dropped in to Melbourne again at the beginning of 2013. Powerful docudrama musical Flowerchildren moved uptown, so to speak, from St Kilda’s Theatreworks, to Melbourne’s Comedy Theatre. Eager music theatre fans in Melbourne warmly greeted 2012 Pro Choice Best Musical winner Legally Blonde. 2012 hit South Pacific returned to Sydney and going on to Perth and Adelaide. Shane Warne the Musical, expanded to include material on its title subject, dropped in with an all-star cast for two nights at Hamer Hall.

Shane Warne the Musical Hamer Hall Melbourne 2013 Eddie Perfect, Christie Whelan

A very welcome trend was the proliferation of international guests who visited our shores to share their talents and tell their stories. Julie Andrews regaled us with her stage, screen and charity achievements. Original Wicked stars Kristin Chenoweth and Idina Menzel each independently performed a night of their hits, with plenty of laughter along the way. Composer Adam Guettel, grandson of Richard Rodgers, sang his own work, including musical treasure The Light in the Piazza. In an unusual but magical combination, music theatre legend Mandy Patinkin teamed with opera star Nathan Gunn for an evening of glorious music.

Patinkin Gunn

Usually reserved for the subsidised theatre companies, a string of plays received commercial tours this year. Megahit War Horse had its Australian premiere last New Year’s Eve, before galloping off to Sydney and Brisbane. . Acting legends Angela Lansbury and James Earl Jones wowed Australian fans with their spellbinding performances in Driving Miss Daisy. Melbourne hosted blonde bombshell Jerry Hall for Broadway play The Graduate. Buoyed by the success of 2012’s The Mousetrap, producers presented Miss Marple in the charming, if much lesser known, A Murder is Announced. A full London company came to Adelaide, Sydney and Melbourne with the hilarious slapstick/farce hybrid One Man, Two Guvnors.

One Man Two Guvnors Melbourne Alfie, Francis

Looking ahead to 2014, the 2013 return of Grease will be followed by fellow crowd favourites The Lion KingThe Rocky Horror ShowWicked and Les Misérables. Sydney will host the world premiere of the musical based on sentimental movie favourite Strictly Ballroom. John Frost will team with MTC for the Australian premiere of 2012 Best Musical Tony Winner Once. Victorian Opera will follow the acclaimed success of Sunday in the Park with George with another beloved Stephen Sondheim selection Into the Woods, while Opera Australia will follow their hit production of South Pacific with fellow Rodgers and Hammerstein classic The King & I.


Updated to show the winners of the Theatre People 2013 Pro Choice Awards (winners in bold)

Best Supporting Actress:

Teagan Wouters, Wednesday Addams, The Addams Family

Christina Tan, Gypsy Rose Lee, Gypsy

Nancye Hayes, Old Lady/Blair Daniels, Sunday in the Park with George

Christie Whelan-Browne, Lina Lamont, Singin’ in the Rain

Lucy Maunder, Rizzo, Grease

Margi de Ferranti, Margaret White, Carrie

Victorian Opera  SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE Nancye Hayes, Alexander Lewis

Best Supporting Actor:

Russell Dykstra, Uncle Fester, The Addams Family

Chris Ryan, Jack Driscoll, King Kong

Nathan Pinnell, Tulsa, Gypsy

Rohan Browne, Leading Player, Pippin

Adam Murphy, The Pirate King, The Pirates of Penzance

Rob Johnson, Tommy Ross, Carrie


Best Actress:

Esther Hannaford, Ann Darrow, King Kong

Caroline O’Connor, Rose, Gypsy

Christina O’Neill, Dot/Marie, Sunday in the Park with George

Laura Fitzpatrick, Eve/Mama Noah, Children of Eden

Amy Lehpamer, Christine Colgate, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

Hilary Cole, Carrie, Carrie

King Kong-Esther-Hannaford-as-Ann-Darrow-and-Chris-Ryan-as-Jack-Driscoll-CRD-JEFF-BUSBY

Best Actor:

Alexander Lewis, Georges Seurat/George, Sunday in the Park with George

Bobby Fox, Spring, Hot Shoe Shuffle

Luigi Lucente, Pippin, Pippin

David Harris, Adam/Noah, Children of Eden

Tony Sheldon, Lawrence Jameson, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

Matt Hetherington, Freddy Benson, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

Dirty_Rotten_Scoundrels, Sydney 2013, Matt Hetherington, Tony Sheldon 

Best Musical Director:

Luke Hunter, The Addams Family

Guy Simpson, Gypsy

David Stratton, Max Lambert, Hot Shoe Shuffle

Cameron Thomas, Children of Eden

Guy Simpson, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

Mark Chamberlain, Carrie


Best Choreographer:

Sergio Trujillo, The Addams Family

John O’Connell, King Kong

Andrew Hallsworth, Gypsy

David Atkins, Dein Perry, Drew Anthony, Hot Shoe Shuffle

Michael Ralph, Pippin

Arlene Phillips/Charlotte Bull, Grease

GREASE Sydney 2013

Best Director:

Gale Edwards, Gypsy

Stuart Maunder, Sunday in the Park with George

Aaron Joyner, Godspell

Stephen Wheat, Pippin

Rodger Hodgman, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

Jay James-Moody, Carrie


Best Limited Run/Concert Musical:

Gypsy – The Production Company

Singin’ in the Rain – The Production Company

The Pirates of Penzance – The Production Company

Sunday in the Park with George – Victorian Opera

Godspell – Magnormos

Pippin– Magnormos

Children of Eden – Magnormos

They’re Playing Our Song – HIT Productions

Carrie – Squabbalogic 

The Production Company GYPSY Caroline O'Connor, Christina Tan

Best Musical:

Hot Shoe Shuffle – David Atkins Enterprises

Grease – John Frost

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang – Tim Lawson

King Kong – Global Creatures

The Addams Family – Rodney Rigby

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels – James Anthony Productions and George Youakim

CAST YOUR VOTE NOW in the Theatre People 2013 Pro Choice Awards: CLICK HERE.

See the list of 2012 winners, 2011 winners and 2010 winners.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Australia Car

Categories: Music Theatre

3 replies »

  1. That puppetry in “Kong” looks astonishing…too bad the musical numbers are below average. I’ll have to skip the Broadway debut if it’s only worth it for the big monkey! Nice wrap up, Simon! Looking forward to more in 2014! ML

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