Season Preview: Your guide to the arts in 2021

Darlinghurst Theatre Company was all set to open its 2020 season with a new, reimagined production of the iconic musical A Chorus Line. Directed and choreographed by Amy Campbell, it was to have been the first professional Australian production with entirely new choreography.

The production was an ambitious undertaking for a company the size of the Darlo, but the risk certainly seemed to be paying off when each of the four sold-out previews was met with a standing ovation. Then on the day of its official opening, the production was shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was devastating for all concerned, but in exciting news, Campbell’s take on A Chorus Line will return as part of the Darlinghurst Theatre Company’s 2021 season.

A Chorus Line, Darlinghurst Theatre Company, 2020. Photograph © Robert Catto

A Chorus Line was created by Michael Bennett from interviews with a group of dancers that he knew well. It opened on Broadway in 1975 and won nine Tony Awards as well as the 1976 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

The Darlinghurst Theatre Company’s extended season begins on  27 August. Tim Draxl returns as the director Zac who puts 19 dancers through the paces as they vie to be in the chorus line of a new show.

The 2021 season also includes the return of Richard Carroll’s hit production of the musical Once, which broke Darlo’s box-office records when it opened in 2019. Such was the demand for tickets that the season was extended. The musical is based on John Carney’s 2007 low-budget film starring Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglova. The beguiling Darlo production starred Toby Francis and Stefanie Caccamo, who will reprise their roles. Following the Sydney season, Once will go on tour thanks to a grant from the Australian Government’s RISE Fund.

The 2021 season, which has been programmed by Co-Artistic Directors Amylia Harris and Glenn Terry, will begin in March with Rueben Kaye’s latest cabaret extravaganza, fresh from its world premiere at Perth’s Fringe World and a stint at the Adelaide Fringe. Featuring his hallmark word-play and double entendre, it draws on Kaye’s observations of “a world where experts are derided and it’s not so in vogue to have the smarts”.

In April, Darlinghurst Theatre Company will co-produce the Australian premiere of jasmine lee-jones’ seven methods of killing kylie jenner with Green Door Theatre Company. Directed by Shari Sebbens – STC’s 2019 Richard Wherrett Fellow and current Resident Director – the critically acclaimed comedy will feature Moreblessing Maturure. The hilarious, edgy work, which premiered at London’s Royal Court in 2019, blends real life and online culture as it following an online battle about an Instagram star.

In its review of the Royal Court production, The Guardian said the play “is as much about the drama of social media and how we behave on it, as it is about race, slavery, white supremacy, colourism and the offensive cultural tropes that surround black women.”

The Times described it as a “coruscating new play”, and summed up its review by saying “in short, it slays”.

In May, the Darlo produces the Sydney premiere of The Good Room’s critically acclaimed I Want to Know What Love Is. The crowdsourced open love letter was created by Queensland-based performance collective The Good Room, and has played to sell-out seasons in Brisbane and Melbourne in 2019. It will be revised for the Sydney season using new public submissions.

In March, the Darlo will present Big Thick Energy, a three-day body positive burlesque festival conceived and curated by Demon Derriere.

Following a successful debut season at last year’s BLOOM Festival, The People of Cabaret will return. Described by its Founding Director, Miss Cairo, as “an organisation formed by, and for, people of colour, dedicated to amplifying and uplifting our communities”, it will present a new variety show The People of Cabaret: We Are Here, with musical direction by Victoria Falconer.

Live music offerings will be expanded in 2021 under the Darlo Underground, Thirsty Thursday, and Darlo Sessions programs. The Next in Line playwright development program, launched last year with a grant from the City of Sydney, also returns in 2021.

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