Blog: Aussie Hits That We Think the World Should Know!

Updated: Aug 19

Australians make some amazing theatre and as reviewers (and avid-theatre goers), we are very lucky that we get to see so much of it! Internationally though, it is likely that you would be hard pressed to find people knowing any more of our theatre beyond Priscilla: Queen of the Desert and The Boy from Oz, both of which have gone on to great international success!


So, we thought it was time to tell you about some contemporary Australian shows that we have seen that we think the world should know about, and why!


Muriel's Wedding

Book By PJ Hogan. Music & Lyrics By Kate Miller-Heidke. Music & Lyrics By Keir Nuttall

Image Credit: Jeff Busby


This heartwarming, charming story is the latest wildly Australian musical that we think will capture the hearts of friends overseas in the same way that Priscilla did. It's very Aussie (we would imagine some adaptations may be required) but the heart of the story is about friendship, self-confidence and self-awareness, and more than anything, finding yourself so you can learn to love yourself, and these are themes we know can go anywhere. Based on the cult classic film by the same title, the music is banging (and Kate Miller-Heidke is a well-known name after representing Australia at Eurovision), there are ABBA songs throughout (everyone loves ABBA!), the costumes and sets are bright and exciting and the massive number about Sydney is like a giant ad for Tourism NSW 😂 because it is SO FUN!


We hope international theatregoers would love it as much as we do...in the meantime, how cool would it be to see an Australia-wide tour of this show!


This musical is anything but terrible (Muriel). Read my review here.

https://murielsweddingthemusical.com


A Little Piece of Ash

By Megan Wilding

Images Supplied


This was a show that I got to review at KXT in Sydney by Megan Wilding which was one of my highlights of 2019 theatre and one of the best new Australian works I have seen in a long time! Wilding used her own painful experiences of her mother's passing to inspire this beautiful story of grief, legacy and understanding. One of the most unique and yet haunting pieces of Indigenous theatres that I have seen in a long time, this is a story that I believe shows the best of Australian talent, tells the Australian story and needs to be seen both across our country and then beyond.


Still Point Turning: The Catherine Mcgregor Story

By Priscilla Jackman

Images Supplied


This Verbatim piece of theatre caught my attention for a few reasons - first and foremost, I love Verbatim theatre so I was excited when in 2018 Sydney Theatre Company brought this new work to the stage. Secondly, it featured one of my favourite Australian actors, Heather Mitchell, but mostly, I was interested because it was the first time I had seen a Verbatim work in Australia that would openly discuss a transgender story and have the person who transitioned as the protagonist, with the agency, power and authority to tell their own story. Furthermore, it was a story about an Australian sportsman...and that had me intrigued. I feel that too often stories from the LGBTQI+ community are positioned within a stereotype that would not allow for an overlap with a sporting story - this was refreshing to see! I think it's an interesting piece to export beyond Australia not because it is my favourite play I've ever seen, truth be told, it wasn't. Instead because of its message and because of the audience that a play about sport can attract, and a play about the transgender experience can attract...and the fact that those audiences should all merge for one great play.


The Appleton Ladies Potato Race

By Melanie Tait

Image Credit: Phil Erbacher


Set in a small country town in Australia, one of these women returns from the city to her hometown just in time for the annual Appleton Potato Race, the biggest event of the year. What she learns is that despite her time away, nothing is changed and that the men's race still pays double the winnings of the women's race. It's a simple but clever analogy for the pay gap debate that we are all still discussing and that was certainly still headlining in 2019. This piece was funny, poignant, relevant and all female and honestly, I just loved it and have been thinking about it for over a year. It's funny, sometimes the simple, light hearted shows are the ones that really stay with you! The show may be set in rural Australia but the themes are universal and I think that Melanie Tait's play would certainly find an audience abroad (even if a few changes may be needed from some real Aussie slang). Review.


Counting and Cracking

By S. Shakthidharan

Image Credit: Brett Boardman


A beautiful mix of countries, cultures, stories and generations, Counting and Cracking was epic and I was so happy that I got to review it when the cast performed in Adelaide after I was away for the Sydney season. This story of migration from Sri Lanka to Australia and of one family's journey over 3 Acts was so beautiful and so unique in its storytelling that I would a) absolutely love to see it again and b) love to see it go abroad. It is such a universal story in that it is one of movement, loss, rebuilding, sacrifice and love and for these reasons, I think it would work very well wherever it went!


Fangirls

Book, Music & Lyrics By Yve Blake

Image Credit: Brett Boardman


This work is about teens everywhere and whether performed by an Australian cast or international, the story would undoubtably hold true. It's a fun, new musical with some really catchy music that I think would do really well particularly off west end - it's a surprising hit! Whether you are a fangirl now, or you remember being one when you were younger, this story will certainly speak to a huge audience.


White Pearl

By Anchuli Felicia King

Image Credit: Phil Erbacher


Anchuli Felicia King is one of the brightest lights in Australian playwrighting right now and is absolutely one to watch - so much so that she has 2 shows on this list. This interesting piece is great for a few reasons - one, it exposes an underside to the beauty industry rarely discussed that definitely needs more light shone on it to provoke further debate about the concept of beauty, how it is marketed, what is acceptable and what is simply abhorrent. Secondly, the show focuses on racism within, in this instance, showing the complexity of pan-Asian relations. It is a fast paced, exciting, original and very unique piece of theatre, featuring an all female cast that I believe would do well in an international theatre scene because of King's supreme ability to create this dark comedy with twits, originality and brutal honesty. Review.


Golden Shield

By Anchuli Felicia King

Images Supplied


Melbourne Theatre Company's production of The Golden Shield was grand, stylish and very interesting and I was so glad to be down there to review. The show follows a risky legal battle with the Chinese government and their internet firewall, Golden Shield, and puts a young hot shot lawyer and her translator sister at the front and centre of the international debacle. We see not just state lines being tested, but sisters being tested too. Discussing censorship, surveillance, governance, corporate greed and more, this show is one you certainly need to concentrate through but is a very powerful production when you do. With no particularly Australian ties, this content could be widely accepted by international theatre scenes.

Barbara and the Camp Dogs

By Ursula Yovich and Alana Valentine

Image Credit: Brett Boardman


This is the only show on the list that I haven't yet got to personally see but from everything that I have heard about it, it sounds like something that we should all be hoping is in rehearsals for another tour!


Have a read of Sasha's review for Theatre Travels.

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