Best of Theatre

Best of Theatre

Last Updated: 24 Sep 2015
Sophie Raynor

Theatre fans are reaping the benefits of years of patience, with the staging of some longtime favourites (The Lion King, Next To Normal), and the world premiere of an acclaimed short story (The Cockatoos).


Director Adam Mitchell describes seeing this rock musical on Broadway as "one of the most touching moments I've ever had in theatre", and it's easy to see why – the internationally feted piece was just the eighth in history to win the Pulitzer Prize for Drama (the previous musical winner was smash hit Rent). Both Adam and Kate Cherry, the artistic director of Black Swan State Theatre Company, say that they're excited for Black Swan's staging of the musical, because it's a challenging piece that deals with mental illness, suicide and drug abuse – not topics usually covered in a frothy musical romp. "It's an emotionally charged work that comes to life when you add the music," says Adam. "I want to bring the audience inside [protagonist] Diana's head, follow her into the places she goes, and experience the highs and lows as she does." Expect an abstract reimagining from the quirky director, who says he's looking to make his production more adventurous than previous stagings. Heath Ledger Theatre, November 7-22.


The stage adaptation of Nobel Prize-winning author Patrick White's acclaimed short story The Cockatoos will have its world premiere in Perth, thanks in no small part to the tenacity of its writer. Andrew Hale first stumbled across the story as a lonely expat in drama school in Paris, and says it resonated with him, but he can't explain why – as is the case with White's intricate writing. "He gets inside, he knows things about you that you don't know yourself," says Andrew. "He won't tell you outright what they are – that gives you the opportunity to block him, to push him away, but he circles around and lets you discover it for yourself." Andrew says he hopes The Cockatoos gets inside people in the same way as White has the ability to – and in the deft hands of the award-winning writer and actor, who honed his craft under the tutelage of renowned actor and mime Jacques Lecoq, we can't see how it won't. Blue Room Theatre, October 20-November 7.

Photography Matt Sav.


The visionary performance festival returns for a season Perth Theatre Company's Melissa Cantwell is predicting will be "unforgettable and unrepeatable". High praise, sure, but understandable, when you know the festival – a series of intimate, one-on-one live contemporary performances – is the first of its kind in Australia, and has had previous attendees reporting powerfully moving, unique experiences. You won't find this anywhere else. Art Gallery of WA, October 28-November 8.


More stage phenomenon than mere theatre piece, the smash hit musical deserves all the plaudits critics have thrown its way since its first Broadway run in 1997 – which, incidentally, grossed a cool billion dollars. It's now the top box-office earner in history for film and theatre combined, and our chance to add to that starts in November. Don't think we're getting a tired rehash, though – rumour has it New Zealand actor Nick Afoa, who stars as adult Simba, is something special – he's been described as "glorious" by Disney's president of theatrical productions, Thomas Schumacher. Crown Theatre, from November 18.


Perth Theatre Company cemented itself as the state's premier experimental theatre company with this incredible, thought-provoking piece, a co-production with the award-winning indie company Side Pony Productions. After captivating Perth audiences earlier this year, the challenging psychotic thriller moves to Mandurah – giving punters a much-needed chance to re-watch, because with audience members playing all the characters, and tricky audio giving you just a snippet of each character's dialogue, you could see this show a hundred times and still not fully untangle its plot. We'd expect nothing less from these ever-innovative companies. Mandurah Performing Arts Centre, November 3-4.


The ever-innovative Blue Room Theatre extends its reach into children's theatre this season, with the world premiere of Benjamin & Me, an eccentric coming-of-age story by multi-talented performer and writer Mark Storen's new production company, Whiskey & Boots. "It's essentially a tale of two mates going on an adventure, and the challenges they face in entering the next stage of growing up," explains Mark. But would it be a Blue Room show without a twist? Not at all – Benjamin is a dog, and Will's ambition to build the world's first boy-and-dog-operated flying machine provides perfect fodder for contemplating growing up and changing relationships. "I would like to give the audience a little bit of advice on how to handle certain stumbling blocks they may come across in life, regardless of age," says Mark. Blue Room Theatre, October 6-24.


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