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On stage at Blackie Blackie Brown Malthouse
Photograph: Phoebe Powell

Critics' choice theatre shows in Melbourne

The best new and upcoming Melbourne theatre, musicals, opera and dance

Written by
Time Out editors
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Our theatre critics spend a scary amount of time sitting in dark rooms, so they usually know what's what when it comes to Melbourne's stages. Here are all their tips for the best shows to see right now, as well as the upcoming shows that we haven't seen yet, but think are going to set your heart racing. 

For more Melbourne theatre information, check out our latest reviews and our guide to scoring cheap theatre tickets.

Critics' choice Melbourne shows

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Theatre
  • Drama
  • price 3 of 4
  • Melbourne
It‚Äôs Christmas for Potterheads. Three years after its celebrated opening at the expensively refurbished Princess Theatre, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is taking an apt step back in time with a second premiere, this time of a streamlined one-play version that carves a good three hours off of its original running time. There are various motivations for this. Even for ardent devotees or seasoned theatre veterans, six hours in a seat is a slog, and once killed-for tickets had become readily available. But what could have been a cynical hatchet job has turned out to be the making of this show. The main pillars of the story remain ‚Äď picking up where JK Rowling‚Äôs novels ended, we meet the children of famed wizard Harry Potter as they depart for Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. However, the enduring friendships that kept Harry alive are elusive for Harry‚Äôs awkward son Albus, and when he fails to live up to the towering expectations of not just his school but the entire wizarding world, his sole friendship becomes both his greatest refuge and his biggest vulnerability. But while you might reasonably assume that this is a¬†play about magic, you‚Äôd be wrong. This is a play about love. Which should come as no surprise ‚Äď love is quite literally the most powerful, death-defying force in JK Rowling‚Äôs seven-book¬†saga. What is surprising however, is how one of the greatest juggernaut fiction franchises of all time has leaned ‚Äď comfortably, credibly, with heart-rending sensitivit
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Theatre
  • Musicals
  • Melbourne
For a limited time there will be $70 Hamilton tickets available for the Melbourne production. They're located in the Grand Circle for Tuesday-Thursday performances only, in the month of August. Get in quick! Read on for our review. Is Hamilton, the smash-hit American history musical that won a whopping 11 Tony Awards and a Pulitzer Prize when it debuted on Broadway in 2015 and won the hearts of critics and audiences the world over, as good as everyone says? In a word, yes. If you want to stop reading here and just book your tickets, we’ll understand.  There is a reason it is the most hyped show on Earth, and its writer and first star, Lin-Manuel Miranda, is now a household name. Some 3 million people watched the musical when it appeared on Disney+ in July 2020, and almost 8 million more have seen it live, in cities across the US, in London’s West End and in Sydney. Now it’s Melbourne's turn, with the show taking over Her Majesty's Theatre.  With the soundtrack available on Spotify and the original Broadway cast version available to anyone with a Disney+ account on demand, Hamilton is competing not so much with other musicals for your dollars and attention (there are no other shows of this type that can match the show’s tactical brilliance), but with itself. Most in the audience are at least familiar with the show by this point, and quite a few are able to mouth along to every word behind their masks. If you can see the original Broadway version any time you want and listen to
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  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Theatre
  • Musicals
  • Melbourne
There are inevitable creative tensions that arise when adapting a movie into a musical; to take a much-loved, cult flick and turn it into a legitimate singing, dancing hit live on stage is fraught with danger. Do you stay true to the source text? Do you take the original story and mould it into something unique? We've seen a lot of these such adaptations in Melbourne of late ‚Äď versions of both Bring It On and Cruel Intentions have hit our stages in the past year alone ‚Äď but Hairspray is arguably of a different calibre. And if the opening number ‚Äď the irrepressibly infectious ‚ÄėGood Morning Baltimore‚Äô ‚Äď isn‚Äôt the proof in the pudding from the first few seconds of the production, then we clearly have different tastes in dessert. Based on the original cult 1988 movie of the same name ‚Äď no, not the one with Amanda Bynes, John Travolta and¬†Michelle¬†Pfeiffer, which came after the musical adaption ‚Äď Hairspray delivered a young Ricki Lake her breakout moment, and featured Debbie Harry as the evil, racist mom to boot. Originally, the movie (which, by the way, was not a musical) saw average box office earnings before it evolved into a cult classic thanks to the fertile ground of the humble video store. 14 years later, the musical opened on Broadway, honouring the tradition of casting a male actor in the Edna Turnblad role to honour legendary drag performer Divine, who played Tracy‚Äôs mother in the original movie. The Broadway musical adaption, despite the minor (and to be honest, slightl
  • Theatre
  • Drama
  • Melbourne
Spooky things are happening on stage.¬†The lighting is dim, and you peer through the gloom. There at the back, is that... alive? Did it used to be? Then the lights go out, and the theatre is plunged into darkness. But it's only a play, isn't it? Nothing can get you while you're safe in your seat, right? Right? This is¬†Ghost Stories, a British horror-themed play written by¬†Jeremy Dyson (The League of Gentlemen) and Andy Nyman (Derren Brown TV and live shows, Peaky Blinders) that¬†has played in London for many years, including in the West End.¬† The producers are keeping their spooky surprises¬†a secret, but there will be scares aplenty during the five-week season of¬†Ghost Stories at the Athenaeum. This is the first time the West End version has come to Australia, though other iterations of the show have visited our shores in the past. ‚ÄúYou haven‚Äôt experienced horror until you‚Äôve seen it live on stage,‚Ä̬†says Nathan Alexander, producer at Realscape Productions, which is presenting the Australian version. ‚ÄúThe show is thrilling, chilling and we couldn‚Äôt be more excited for Australia to experience the rollercoaster that is Ghost Stories.‚Ä̬† Will there be jump scares? Based on the trailer on the website, almost certainly. Will there be creeps, crawls and general bumps in the night? Most definitely. The show comes with a warning label that it's not for the faint of heart or those with nerve conditions. Fearless Melburnians can see Ghost Stories from¬†September 16 to October 22 at the Athe
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  • Theatre
  • Musicals
  • Southbank
We've spoken about ghosts at the Arts Centre Melbourne before, and the lights left on to keep them company. But now the greatest phantom of them all is set to haunt the performance hall. Opera Australia, in association with the Really Useful Group, are striking up the discordant organ to announce, with a caped flourish, the arrival of arguably Andrew Lloyd Webber's most famous musical. The Phantom of the Opera is coming to Arts Centre Melbourne in 2022, with West Side Story star Josh Piterman in the title role (and ghoulish half face mask). The Aussie star was  recently bringing The Music of the Night to the West End, playing the Phantom in London right up until that production was forced to shut down. The main cast is rounded out by Amy Manford as Christine and Blake Bowden as Raoul. Unbelievably, it's the first time the box office smash will grace the Arts Centre Melbourne in its 35-year history. And you can bet it's going to dazzle, right down to the fateful plunge of the centrepiece chandelier. This spectacular staging, conjured by Cameron Mackintosh, will be brought to life in Melbourne by director Laurence Connor and will show off the fabulous original costume designs of Maria Björnson.  "I am thrilled to be able to bring this exciting new production of The Phantom of the Opera to Arts Centre Melbourne with its spectacular new staging by director Laurence Connor and fabulous designs by Paul Brown and Maria Bjornson," says Mackintosh.  This is set to be one of the larges
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Theatre
  • Musicals
  • price 3 of 4
When gloal hit musical¬†Come From Away touched down in¬†Melbourne last year, this big hearted show was an unexpected salve in the wake of lingering hard times. Now the show is set to recommence a national tour in 2022, landing at Comedy Theatre, Melbourne from August 27. Tickets for the¬†Melbourne season¬†are on sale soon, and you can sign up for the waitlist¬†here. Read on for our review from the 2021 season: There is something perfect about¬†Come From Away¬†being the¬†first¬†theatre back on Melbourne's main stages. The musical is set on 9/11 in the tiny town of Gander, Newfoundland,¬†to which 38 planes were diverted when United States airspace was closed in the wake of the terrorist attack. The almost 7,000 passengers on board, terrified, claustrophobic and desperate for news about what was happening, were taken in by the people of Gander and surrounding towns, nearly doubling the population for five days. The townsfolk gave them food, shelter and most importantly, kindness and comfort during the most horrific time in recent American history ‚Äď until 2020, of course.¬† The underlying message of kindness and compassion in the face of unspeakable horror is one that's sorely needed right now. When the planes begin to land, the women of Gander¬†start up a collection for donations, with a song that could have been penned last year: "Can I help? Is there something I need to do,¬†something to keep me from thinking of all the scenes on the¬†tube? I need something to do 'cause I can't watch the ne
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  • Theatre
  • Drama
The OG ‚ÄėWhodunnit?‚Äô story is heading for the¬†Melbourne stage. To celebrate the 70th anniversary of the world‚Äôs longest running play,¬†the¬†genre-defining murder mystery from the best-selling novelist of all time, Agatha Christie‚Äôs¬†The Mousetrap¬†is coming¬†to the Comedy Theatre in February 2023.¬† After a local woman is murdered, the guests and staff at Monkswell Manor,¬†a Victorian era estate that has recently been converted into a guest house,¬†find themselves stranded during a snowstorm. It soon becomes clear that the killer is among them, and the seven strangers grow increasingly suspicious of one another. When a second murder takes place, tensions and fears escalate. This record-breaking murder mystery features a brilliant surprise finish, and audiences are still sworn to secrecy on leaving the theatre. International theatre star¬†Anna O‚ÄôByrne¬†(My Fair Lady, Love Never Dies) will play Mollie Ralston, the young owner of Monkswell Manor. Helpmann Award winner¬†Alex Rathgeber¬†(Anything Goes, The Phantom of the Opera) will play Giles Ralston, Mollie‚Äôs husband of one year.¬†Laurence Boxhall¬†(As You Like It, Jumpy) will be Christopher Wren, a flighty and neurotic young guest. As the seriously unpleasant retired magistrate Mrs Boyle,¬†Geraldine Turner¬†(Present Laughter, Don's Party) returns to the stage, alongside¬†Adam Murphy¬†(Shakespeare in Love, Aladdin) as retired British military officer Major Metcalf. In her professional stage debut,¬†Charlotte Friels¬†will play Miss Casewell, who rem
  • Theatre
  • Comedy
Seven Methods of Killing Kylie Jenner¬†was previously scheduled¬†at Melbourne's Malthouse Theatre from July 27 to August 21. A new season has been set for January 18-29, 2023.¬† Following its Australian premiere at Sydney's Darlinghurst Theatre Company in autumn 2021,¬†Seven Methods of Killing Kylie Jenner is finally winging its way to Melbourne in summer 2023. And with a rave reviews (including a phenomenal, five-star rating by Time Out Sydney) you bet we're excited. British playwright¬†Jasmine Lee-Jones's¬†exciting work draws on the social media vortex, deploying GIFs, memes and emojis to consider questions of cultural appropriation, racism, homophobia and online trolling. It all spirals out of an online argument about the success of 23-year-old ‚Äúself-made billionaire‚ÄĚ and reality TV star Kylie Jenner, that sets best friends Cleo and Kara against one another.¬† A collaboration with Green Door Theatre Company, the show stars the inimitable¬†Moreblessing Maturure and Iolanthe, as co-directed by proud Bardi and Jabirr Jabirr woman¬†Shari Sebbens, and actress and musician Zindzi Okenyo. ‚ÄúJasmine Lee-Jones has written one of the greatest debut plays I will ever have the privilege of reading, turning even the simple act of page formatting into a thrill,‚ÄĚ Sebbens says. ‚ÄúThe voices of Cleo and Kara¬†bust¬†through the atmosphere of a global shift every one of us should be feeling right now, bringing big pain¬†and big¬†heart. They crack open the URL, the IRL and force us to look at the space we h

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