Belvoir has unveiled the productions that will make up its 2023 season: bursting at the seams with joyful optimism, thought-provoking theatre, and with lashings of heart.
2023 will see ten plays grace the Belvoir mainstage, with something for everyone – from a Sondheim musical to a best-selling book adaptation, climate issues to exuberant comedy, and so much more – all while shining the light on some incredible Australian artistic talents.
“Theatre-going is one of life’s great acts of optimism,” said Belvoir Artistic Director, Eamon Flack. “That’s never been truer than in these last few years. But Belvoir was born from optimism, so we’re getting on with doing what we do best: a lot with a little, and something for everyone.
“Our headlong love of Australian stories continues – seven of them, including two great new Indigenous plays, a Chinese-Australian comedy in three languages, a lesbian divorce dramedy (yes that’s a genre now), an astonishing, thought-provoking, heart-hitting play about life in the climate era, and Charlotte Wood’s beautiful novel The Weekend comes to the stage.”
“Then there’s the music, and a lot of it this year – I guess because we’ve all had enough of realism in real life. We’re doing our first ever Stephen Sondheim musical. When he died last year the great Australian critic Peter Craven made the call that Sondheim is the Shakespeare of music theatre. We agree.”
“Plus there’s Zahra Newman as Billie Holiday – say no more – and the return of the legendary Robyn Archer. Finally, there’s a piece of pure theatrical pleasure, a stage version of the (literally) magical anti-authoritarian novel The Master and Margarita, which we began work on in the darkest days of lockdown.”
We’ve gone looking for “classics” in new places, and this, alongside Into the Woods, are our offers. It’s a mad time to be alive, but Belvoir’s your yellow brick road through the demented wonderland of life on planet earth in 2023,” said Flack.
Subscriptions for Belvoir’s 2023 season are now on sale. For more information, visit: www.belvoir.com.au for details.
Image: Belvoir 2023 Season (supplied)
BELVOIR’S 2023 SEASON:
Upstairs Theatre: 14 – 29 January
In association with Sydney Festival, Blue is a breathtaking, intimate work and a remarkable playwriting debut written and performed by rising star and the 2021 Balnaves Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Fellow, Thomas Weatherall (Netflix’s Heartbreak High), and directed by Bangarra alumni Deborah Brown. This world premiere is a tender, exquisite monologue, Blue takes us deep into the beauty, and sadness, of a young life at its new beginning. Indigenous theatre at Belvoir supported by The Balnaves Foundation.
Upstairs Theatre: 2 February – 12 March
Presented in association with Sydney WorldPride 2023, Blessed Union is the lesbian divorce comedy you didn’t know you needed, from the wicked mind of Queerstories’ Maeve Marsden (Mother’s Ruin: A Cabaret about Gin). This play follows Ruth and Judith, who have two kids and a manageable mortgage in the Inner West. Their life together is a progressive success story, so why should breaking up be any different? The story of a new kind of family, Blessed Union is for anyone who’s looked at their life and wondered if there might be a better way to live it. Directed by Hannah Goodwin. Cast includes Danielle Cormack and Maude Davey.
INTO THE WOODS
Upstairs Theatre: 18 March – 23 April
In a major coup, Belvoir is delighted to present a brand-new production of Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods, thirty-five years on from its Broadway premiere. Directed by Eamon Flack and featuring a cast of 12 including Tamsin Carroll (Dusty, Oliver), Esther Hannaford (Mr Burns, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical) and Justin Smith (Billy Elliot the Musical), this dazzling musical masterpiece begins, of course, with “Once upon a time…” By the end of the opening number not one but six fairytale plots have intertwined, as Cinderella, the Baker and his Wife, Little Red Riding Hood and Jack of beanstalk fame all head into the woods in search of love, happiness, wisdom. Three midnights of brilliant plot twists later they all end up singing “Happy ever after”. Except this is only the interval… Into The Woods will be dark, funny, absorbing and utterly entertaining. Co-produced by Hayes Theatre Co.
AT WHAT COST?
Upstairs Theatre: 4 – 21 May
The provocative hit from Belvoir’s 2022 season returns for a limited time with its original cast before embarking on a national tour. Written by brilliant Palawa writer and 2019 Balnaves Fellow Nathan Maynard, At What Cost? is a robust story of country, set in Tasmania. Every year more and more folk are claiming to be Palawa. Are they legit? Or are they ‘tick-a-box’? Who decides? And how? At What Cost? is the must-see play, about a very contemporary Australian issue. Directed by Isaac Drandic with Luke Carroll, Sandy Greenwood, Ari Maza Long and Alex Malone. Writer and Associate Director Nathan Maynard.
SCENES FROM THE CLIMATE ERA
Upstairs Theatre: 27 May – 25 June
From the mind of climate expert and playwright David Finnigan (Kill Climate Deniers), Scenes from the Climate Era is exactly what it says it is – more than fifty small plays that catch the exhilaration, frustration and fascination of living in a time of total environmental change, spanning from the recent past into the far future. Directed by Carissa Licciardello (Opening Night, A Room of One’s Own) and featuring a cast of six, including Abbie-lee Lewis (ABC’s Blak Comedy), Brandon McClelland (Packer & Sons) and Charles Wu (Jasper Jones), Scenes from the Climate Era is shocking, wry and often inspiring.
Upstairs Theatre: 1 – 30 July
2023 will see the long awaited, twice Covid-delayed world premiere from the writer who brought us the smash-hit Single Asian Female. Michelle Law’s Miss Peony is a glitzy, glamorous and slightly unhinged comedy about being caught between two generations, two cultures and the ghosts of generations past coming back to haunt you. In a first, Miss Peony will be performed in three languages: as in real life, these characters switch between English, Cantonese and Mandarin, so the show is subtitled in all three languages. Directed by Courtney Stewart with Gabrielle Chan, Jing-Xuan Chan, Michelle Law, Mabel Li, Shirong Wu and Charles Wu.
Upstairs Theatre: 5 August – 3 September
Adapted by Sue Smith from Charlotte Wood’s bestselling novel, The Weekend follows three old friends and one old dog. Sylvie has died, and she left behind three best friends who we find haven’t been as honest – or as good friends – as they thought. Directed by Sarah Goodes (The Sugar House), with a team bursting with fierce female talent including three great actors (Belinda Giblin, Toni Scanlan, Melita Jurisic), The Weekend is a captivating, funny and insightful story of growing older, age, taking stock of life lived and how still to live.
LADY DAY AT EMERSON’S BAR & GRILL
Upstairs Theatre: 14 September – 15 October
The extraordinary Zahra Newman plays the extraordinary Billie Holiday. It’s 1959, in a bar in South Philadelphia. It’s a bit rundown. You wouldn’t know it, but we’re in a moment of history – one of Billie Holiday’s legendary last performances. As she sings her set (‘Taint Nobody’s Business If I Do, Strange Fruit, What a Little Moonlight Can Do, Easy Livin’, God Bless the Child, and more) she shares the story of her life – a bit risqué, humorous, political, ecstatic, tragic. Featuring Zahra Newman (The Book of Mormon), this hit cabaret-style play makes its Australian debut after wowing audiences in its box office record-breaking run on Broadway. Directed by Mitchell Butel. Written by Lanie Robertson. Musical arrangements by Danny Holgate.
ROBYN ARCHER: AN AUSTRALIAN SONGBOOK
Upstairs Theatre: 18 – 29 October
Robyn Archer – icon, legend of the Australian stage and provocateur – is joined by a trio of Australia’s finest stage musicians (piano accordion virtuoso George Butrumlis, actor and multi-instrumentalist Cameron Goodall on guitar, and Enio Pozzebon on keyboards) to perform a rich rendition of songs describing our country. This is Australia as you’ve never heard it before. Devised and performed by Robyn Archer. Originally commissioned by Queensland Theatre.
THE MASTER AND MARGARITA
Upstairs Theatre: 11 November – 10 December
Written in secret in the gloom of repression, passed around under the nose of the state police, The Master and Margarita became a legend long before the novel was published. Now this phenomenon of world literature, told via a giant talking cat, a mad novelist and an ill autocrat, lets fly on the Belvoir stage, in a brand-new adaptation by Eamon Flack and a team of brilliant theatre animals. This wild, joyful and magnificent show features a cast of 11 including Paula Arundell (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child), Rebecca Massey (Cloudstreet), Josh Price (The Cherry Orchard) and the only actor to win two Helpmann’s in one year, Mark Winter makes his long-overdue Belvoir debut.