Melbourne Theatre Company throws open its doors in 2019 with Alan Bennett’s The Lady in the Van, starring powerhouse British actor Miriam Margolyes in the titular role. Directed by Dean Bryant and featuring Daniel Frederiksen and James Millar as the two Alan Bennetts in the play, many audiences will be familiar with the story from the 2015 film starring Maggie Smith. This comedy explores the true relationship between the playwright and a woman who decides to park her van outside his house for 15 years.
The Lady in the Van‘s Miriam Margolyes . Photo © Helen Maybanks
It’s followed by the world premiere of Australian playwright Stephen Sewell’s Arbus & West. This new play imagines what might have happened when photographer Diane Arbus, famous for her gritty, wide-ranging photographs, took the ultra-glam Mae West’s portrait in 1964. Staged by Associate Director Sarah Goodes, Melita Jurisic plays West, with Diana Glenn as Arbus.
Arbus & West‘s Melita Jurisic and Diana Glenn. Photo © Justin Ridler
Iain Sinclair wowed the critics last year with his production of A View from the Bridge at the Old Fitz Theatre in Sydney, as did his Eddie Carbone, Ivan Donato. They team up once again to bring a new production of the play to MTC, with Daniela Farinacci to play Beatrice Carbone.
Capturing the rage and angst of adolescence, Finegan Kruckemeyer’s award-winning The Violent Outburst That Drew Me To You is MTC’s Families and Education play for 2019. Directed by Prue Clark and starring Harry Tseng, it follows the relationship between two angry teenagers that find solace in each other.
The Violent Outburst That Drew Me To You‘s Harry Tseng. Photo © Michelle Tran
Louis Nowra’s Cosí, a landmark Australian play following a group of psychiatric patients who attempt to stage Mozart’s opera of the same name, comes to MTC in a co-production with Sydney Theatre Company. Directed by Sarah Goodes, this dark comedy stars Hunter Page-Lochard as Lewis, with a cast including Esther Hannaford, Katherine Tonkin and Rahel Romahn. Cosí was first performed at Belvoir Street Theatre in 1992.
It’s followed by Simon Stephen’s 2015 play Heisenberg, which receives its Australian premiere in a production by Tom Healey, making his company debut. Capturing a fateful encounter that’s sparked when 42-year-old American Georgie kisses much older Englishman Alex at a London train station, it’s a clever reworking of the romantic screwball formula that throws up profound questions. Kat Stewart is the neurotic, irrepressible Georgie, with Peter Kowitz to play Alex.
Colin Thiele’s classic novel about a boy and his pelican, Storm Boy, enchanted audiences when it was brought to the stage by Sydney Theatre Company in 2013 in an adaptation by Tom Holloway. It’s now staged on an epic scale by Sam Strong, featuring an array of puppets by Dead Puppet Society and starring John Batchelor as Hideaway Tom and Tony Briggs as Fingerbone Bill.
Shakespeare in Love. Photo © Justin Ridler
Storm Boy is followed by another adaptive work, this time from film to stage with Shakespeare in Love, the Oscar-winning film from Tom Stoppard and Marc Norman. Previously adapted by Lee Hall for the West End in 2014, it comes to Melbourne in a new production directed by Simon Phillips with sets and costumes by Gabriela Tylesova. Retaining Paddy Cunneen’s score, this comedy is sure to be a hot ticket.
A new legal drama exploring corporate greed, government implemented firewalls, and global economies from exciting playwright Anchuli Felicia King hits the stage in August. Moving between Silicon Valley to a Beijing boardroom, Golden Shield will be directed by Sarah Goodes with a cast that includes Nicholas Bell, Jing-Xuan Chan, Josh McConville and Yuchen Wang. King’s work is also the first play to come out of MTC’s NEXT STAGE Writers’ Program, an ongoing commitment by the company to Australian plays that’s demonstrated in 2019’s programming – of its 12 shows, six are from Australian writers.
Golden Shield‘s Nicholas Bell, Yuchen Wang, Jing-Xuan Chan and Josh McConville. Photo © Isamu Sawa
Nakkiah Lui’s rapier sharp comedy Black is the New White has been taking audiences by storm recently, having received a return season at Sydney Theatre Company earlier this year and been seen around the country since then. Melbourne audiences will finally get to see what the fuss is all about when it arrives in October in this well-loved production by Paige Rattray.
Anna Ziegler’s Photograph 51, a compelling look at Rosalind Franklin, one of the oft overlooked scientists responsible for excavating the mysteries of DNA, receives its Australian premiere in a new production by Pamela Rabe. A hit on the West End, with Nicole Kidman as Franklin, Nadine Garner returns to tackle on the role for MTC and the scientific establishment at King’s College London.
Kiss of the Spider Woman‘s Caroline O’Connor. Photo © Justin Ridler
Caroline O’Connor brings the season to a roaring finish in Kander and Ebb’s musical Kiss of the Spider Woman. Taking its story from a novel by Manuel Puig, the show is set in a maximum-security prison in Argentina during the Dirty War of the 70s and 80s. It looks at the odd-couple relationship between two cellmates: a Marxist revolutionary, Valentin, and a gay window dresser, Molina. Directed by Dean Bryant, O’Connor is Aurora, the glamorous star of Molina’s cinematic fantasies. Adam Jon Fiorentino plays Valentin, with Natalie Gamsu and Bert LaBonté also in the mix.