The AFC presents three festivals, a piano series, cocktail concerts and more as redevelopment work continues in 2107.

Unveiling the Adelaide Festival Centre’s 2017 programme, CEO and Artistic Director Douglas Gautier was excited about the many arts events on offer, but admits that redevelopment plans for the Adelaide Riverbank and Adelaide Festival Centre (AFC) will pose some challenges. Construction work will continue throughout the year., while the upgrade to the AFC foyers will see the Festival Theatre closed for five months from July – though the Centre’s other venues will remain open.

The inconvenience will be well worth it, says an upbeat Gautier: “The result will be a Festival Centre which connects much more with the facilities in the riverbank and the riverfront. We’re continuing on a very exciting journey here at Adelaide Festival Centre [and] a world class arts and entertainment precinct for all South Australians and visitors to the state to enjoy.”

Amy Lehpamer stars in Dusty the Musical touring to the Adelaide Festival Centre in 2017. Photo: The Production Company

The AFC rings in the New Year with Dusty the Musical from The Production Company in Melbourne, starring Amy Lehpamer (who recently played Maria in The Sound of Music) as English pop star Dusty Springfield. Set in London during the swinging sixties, the musical by John-Michael Howson, David Mitchell and Melvyn Morrow also stars Todd McKenney and Virginia Gay.

In May, Matilda the Musical – which swept the board at the 2016 Helpmann Awards, winning an unprecedented 13 gongs –  also arrives in Adelaide for a two-month season.

In celebration of the Chinese New Year, the AFC and Chinese Cultural Centre (Sydney) present the Zhejiang Traditional Orchestra and Zhejiang Song & Dance Theatre Co Ltd in Butterfly Ladies Band, billed “an epic journey through the sights and sounds of China.”

The Adelaide Festival will open at the AFC with Barrie Kosky’s wildly theatrical production of Handel’s oratorio Saul, which was met with rapturous reviews when it premiered at the Glyndebourne Festival in 2015. Exclusive to Adelaide, the highly anticipated centrepiece of the Festival will play in the Festival Theatre from March 3 – 9.

Benjamin Hulett in Barrie Kosky’s Saul. Photo by Bill Cooper

The AFC will present three signature festivals of its own in 2017: the DreamBIG Children’s Festival in May, the Adelaide Cabaret Festival in June, and the OzAsia Festival in September.

DreamBIG (formerly the Come Out Children’s Festival) opens with 2000 school children and teachers walking across the Adelaide Oval footbridge. The fesival line-up includes comedy duo The Listies, Mr Stink Live on Stage! based on the best-selling book by David Walliams, and a new adventure game set in a magical pop-up forest, played in the dark called In A Deep Dark Forest. Byron Perry directs a new work by Powerhouse Youth Theatre and Force Majeure called Jump First, Ask Later, which tells the stories of six young parkour champions. Noongar man Ian Michael shares the testimonies of survivors form the Stolen Generations in award-winning production Hart, while two performers and a cellist create an interactive sensory experience for babies and their carers in a production called Rain. The full programs for the Cabaret Festival and OzAsia will be announced later.

The Moon Lantern Festival, OzAsia Festival. Photo by Claudio Raschella

The 2017 Morgan’s International Piano Series will feature Hungary’s Denes Varjon in February, Uzbek pianist Behzod Abduraimov in July, and Ukrainian born Australian Alexander Gavrylyuk in October. In the Cocktail Concerts series, Adelaide violinist Niki Vasilakis and cellist Simon Cobcourt will perform Zoltán Kodály’s Duo for Violin and Cello, Op 7 (1914), which melds Hungarian folk tunes with the formal structures of art music in July. Then, in August, Vasilakis joins pianist Anna Goldsworthy for Beethoven’s heroic Sonata for Violin and Piano, The Kreutzer Sonata, inspired by Tolstoy’s dark novella of the same name.

Veteran actor John Bell and pianist Simon Tedeschi join forces in July to perform Enoch Arden, Alfred Lord Tennyson’s epic poem set to music by Richard Strauss, which tells the tragic tale of a shipwrecked seaman who returns home to discover his wife has married his best friend.

Gabrielle Nankivell will collaborate with composer Luke Smiles on Split Second Heroes for inSpace: Development. Photo by Chris Herzfeld Camlight Productions

Gabrielle Nankivell, who has had great success with her dance piece Wildebeest for Sydney Dance Company, is creating a new work called Split Second Heroes as part of the AFC’s development programme inSpace. Combining contemporary dance and up-to-the-minute technology with weird and wonderful story-telling, Split Second Heroes will take audiences aged 12+ on an endearingly eccentric, highly physical quest for self-discovery. Meanwhile, children and their families will celebrate the 40th anniversary of the AFC’s Something on Saturday in 2017: a free programme of performance and craft workshops designed to introduce children aged 2 to 10 to the arts. The GreenRoom programme, which makes the arts accessible to South Australians aged between 18 and 30, will celebrate its 10th birthday with $10 memberships and heavily discounted tickets.

The James Morrison Academy Jazz Orchestra. Photo: Adelaide Festival Centre

The music programme ranges from Tubular Bells for Two in which Australian duo Aidan Roberts and Daniel Holdsworth play more than 20 instruments in a performance of Mike Oldfield’s 1970s composition Tubular Bells to chart-topping Italian pianist and composer Ludovico Einaudi, to the James Morrison Jazz Academy Orchestra. Morrison will also work closely with the AFC on celebrations for UNESCO’s International Jazz Day on April 30. The AFC will also host productions by the State Theatre Company of South Australia, the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, Windmill Theatre Co, Brink Productions and Sydney Dance Company as well as a number of commercial producers.


FULL PROGRAMME