Government supports new music theatre in Australia

This February, Arts Centre Melbourne will present a wonderful new initiative for Music Theatre composers and writers in Australia, in a project assisted by the Australia Council for the Arts.

With a mission to uncover and support bold, innovative thinking in contemporary music theatre across Australia, Arts Centre Melbourne and the Australia Council called for new music theatre works in September 2011

From the host of entries, the three most compelling works were selected for workshop and performance in The New Music Theatre Series, (also known as Carnegie 18) this February.

The three shows – The New Black, Dreamsong and Cautionary Tales for Children – are to be performed ‘in the raw’ at Arts Centre Melbourne’s Fairfax Studio from 1 – 7 February.

Arts Centre Melbourne is the only performing arts centre in Australia to support such an initiative for independent artists and ensembles.

Judith Isherwood, Chief Executive, Arts Centre Melbourne says the initiative is designed to nurture and promote future musical theatre talent in Australia.

“I’m delighted that the Arts Centre is continuing its tradition of providing a platform for creativity, through fostering and embracing new work. These new works help expand the repertoire both for audiences and artists and enable us to bring a contemporary edge to our stages,” she said

the new blackThe New Black

1 – 3 Feb at 6.30pm, 4 Feb at 3.00pm

Meet Jim, a young indigenous lawyer cutting his own groove in the corporate world of law firm Kingsworth, Kerrigan and Klein. Jim has barbed-wire savvy and more than a few tricks up his crisp white shirt sleeve, but is $60 a minute really all his future’s worth?

Originally developed and conceived by Stephen Helper with the Aboriginal Centre for Performing Arts, this is a story-based music theatre work boasting an entirely original score by Marcus Cowora. Traversing soul, country, pop, jazz and sounds from an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander tradition, the verdict is clear on the layers of spirit in this work. Co-written by Tony Briggs (The Sapphires).

cautionary talesCautionary Tales for Children

4 Feb at 6.30pm, 5 Feb at 3.00pm, 6 & 7 Feb at 6.30pm

A lyrical satirical cabaret based on the verse by Hilaire Belloc

From the pens of a multiple award-winning creative team under the umbrella of Arena Theatre, Hilare Belloc’s satirical early 20th Century satirical poems about wayward children and their just desserts are brought to life.

With an aim to develop this work for audiences 8 – 15 years old in the future, this showing highlights the musical genius of Mark Jones, the absurd imagination or Claudia O’Doherty and the directorial guidance of Chris Kohn. Presented in cabaret format – a rarity in the world of children’s theatre.

Expertly poking tongues at authority figures and pompous types, this mock moralistic, vividly colourful show-within-a-show is told by a dysfunctional family troupe of four aided by their time-machine.

dream songDreamsong

6 & 7 Feb at 8.00pm, 4 Feb at 8.00pm, 5 Feb at 4.30pm

An irreverent musical satire of faith, fortune and the mega-church

Who is ready to rock with Jesus? Australia! The 51st State. Land of hope, opportunity, and DreamSong. Pastor Richard Sunday is in trouble. Having relocated his Evangelical Mega-church, DreamSong, from his native USA, he

has lost millions in the Global Financial Crisis and the future is looking grim. To continue saving the souls of Australia, Pastor Richard hatches a plan to stage the second coming of Jesus and market him as a centrefold superstar.

Using traditional music theatre conventions, Dreamsong invokes the heartfelt sarnestness of Christian pop and American power ballads with a touch of gospel, Yiddish folk and the occasional Broadway-styled show tune.

Book and lyrics created by Hugo Chiarella with composition by long-time  collaborator Robert Tripolino. Directed by one of Melbourne’s most prolific directors, Michael Gurr, with musical direction by Andrew Patterson.

Artists will be available for Q & A sessions after each performance.

All tickets $10

To book:, 1300 182 183 or the Arts Centre Box Office 


Erin James

Erin James is's former Editor in Chief and a performer on both stage and screen. Credits include My Fair Lady, South Pacific and The King and I (Opera Australia), Love Never Dies and Cats (Really Useful Group), Blood Brothers (Enda Markey Presents), A Place To Call Home (Foxtel/Channel 7) and the feature film The Little Death (written and directed by Josh Lawson).

Erin James

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