BOOKENDED by two spectacular, crowd-pleasing musicals, the Canberra Theatre Centre’s 2017 season confirms a determination to entertain as well as stimulate audiences.
First up, in March, will be Queensland Theatre Co’s lavishly-costumed “Ladies in Black”, an original Tim Finn musical set in a department store looking remarkably like DJs. Simon Phillips is the director and fashion will be the word.
The last show of the year, already announced in a blaze of publicity, is the Aussie premiere of a new “Mamma Mia” production, first opening in Canberra and very likely, ACT Tourism hopes, to draw the crowds and the cognoscenti to town.
Dance and physical theatre take centre stage in 2017, with Sydney Dance Company bringing in Cheng Tsung-lung, the celebrated choreographer from Taiwan’s Cloud Gate 2 Theatre. Bangarra’s Stephen Page will stage a full-length work about Eora leader Bennelong. For the first time in Canberra, choreographer Shaun Parker and his dance company will be seen in “Blue Love”, a satirical take on pop culture and suburbia. For a wider audience will be “Landscape with Monsters”, Yaron Lifschitz’s daring, funny work created for Circa and Wollongong’s Merrigong Theatre.
Bell Shakespeare plans to turn gender on its head when one of its favourite actors, Kate Mulvany, plays Richard III, building on her notable performances as Cassius in “Julius Caesar” seen at The Playhouse some years ago. A bravura performance of a great role can be expected from actor Mitchell Butel as Shylock later in the year in Bell’s “A Merchant of Venice”.
“Straight” theatre is in abundance for 2017, with the popular Sport for Jove Theatre Company (think back to “Of Mice and Men”) joining the subscription season for the first time with the great Rostand play “Cyrano de Bergerac”.
Ilbijerri Theatre Co and Belvoir are presenting a verbatim about Coranderrk Aboriginal Reserve featuring the charismatic actor Trevor Jamieson.
And Geoffrey Rush’s “kick-arse” production of “The Popular Mechanicals” for the State Theatre Company of SA, will be here – the company will also bring “1984”, acted by Australians but produced by UK Company Headlong, Nottingham Playhouse and the Almeida Theatre.
Sydney Theatre Company’s production of “Talk” will see John Waters and a large cast in Jonathan Biggins’ long-planned theatrical swipe at the media. Waters plays a more-or-less fictitious shock jock who oversteps the mark, in the tradition of Peter Finch’s “Mad as Hell” character in “Network.”
And politics? Of course, there’s the Wharf Revue, and who knows what might be happening in the corridors of power by then – this is Canberra, after all.
Season subscriptions at canberratheatrecentre.com.au or 6275 2700.