Despite Sylvia never setting a cloven hoof on stage, she dominates the other characters in Edward Albee’s bizarre and hilarious 2000 play, The Goat or, Who Is Sylvia?. Sylvia is not just a goat, she’s one so sweetly alluring that the happily married Martin Gray can’t help falling in love with her. Now we all have a little flexibility built into our behavioural codes, but the code of Martin’s wife, Stevie, doesn’t really encompass sharing her husband with a goat, however cute. Directed by Mitchell Butel for STC, and with Claudia Karvan returning to theatre to play Stevie, this will make your sides ache, even as it eats your moral compass. Roslyn Packer Theatre, March 2-25.
Speaking of things taking unexpected twists, Into the Woods surely heads the list of musicals, story-wise, and Eamon Flack’s including it in Belvoir’s 2023 season was a bit of a bolt from the blue, too. But there can never be enough Steven Sondheim, and some rate this collection of bent and gnarly fairy-tales as his masterpiece. Flack directs, and Tamsin Carroll should revel in the delicious role of The Witch. Belvoir St Theatre, March 18-April 23.
A decade after the speech that ricocheted around the world – the speech that made Julia Gillard an Athena in the fight against misogyny and shrank Tony Abbott to the status of a footnote – comes Julia, the play about the woman behind the speech. Joanna Murray-Smith has penned a pithy one-hander directed by Sarah Goodes (for STC), with Justine Clarke as the ex-PM. Excerpts of the speech are interwoven into a fictional look at the surrounding circumstances. Drama Theatre, March 30-May 13.
Simply the best, Tina Tuner put her all into every show, her high-octane performances matched by one of the most searing voices in music. But everything was not quite so hunky dory in her private life with Ike Turner. Tina – The Tina Turner Musical has cleaned up the gongs in the West End and on Broadway, and this year comes storming into Sydney. I love the disclaimer on the advertising that Tina, herself, won’t be appearing: some people must be easily confused. Theatre Royal, from May 4.
Sometimes just the cast is enough to make one salivate in anticipation. Let’s face it, the odds of a show starring Belinda Giblin, Toni Scanlon and Melita Jurisic being a dud are all but non-existent. The odds of The Weekend being an absolute gem explode when I tell you it’s based on Charlotte Wood’s eponymous novel about the unravelling of long-cherished friendships, and is directed by Sarah Goodes. Belvoir St Theatre, August 5-September 3.
Who better to play Billie Holiday in the Tony Award-winning Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill than Zahra Newman? The show takes us back to 1959, when Billie’s life is on the skids, and she looks back across the chasm of her career, via such songs that made her great as Strange Fruit and God Bless the Child. Before Billie, jazz songs of heartache were sung with a smile. Billie stripped them naked, and thereby changed popular music forever. This is not a cabaret, but a play with music, and it will surely be a highlight of the year. Belvoir St Theatre, September 14-October 15.
When the pandemic prevented Sport for Jove artistic director Damien Ryan staging his play Venus & Adonis, he whipped up an engrossing feature film version, instead. Now comes the play itself, interweaving the epically erotic poem Venus and Adonis with the grubby, tragic, humorous, libidinous, hard-lived lives shared by Shakespeare and his circle, and cushioned by the lushness of several sonnets. Ryan’s Sahespeare (Anthony Gooley) has the intensity to be credibly the author of supreme art, while the bard’s lover, Amelia Lanyer (Adele Querol), was the first female professional English poet. Swaying between London rehearsals, a family tragedy in Stratford and the domineering presence of Queen Bess (Belinda Giblin), this is a must-see. Seymour Centre, September 29-October 21.