- October 2019
King Lear is a tragedy by William Shakespeare. The title character descends into madness after disposing of his estate between two of his three daughters based on their flattery, bringing tragic consequences for all. The play is based on the legend of Leir of Britain, a mythological pre-Roman Celtic king. It has been widely adapted for the stage and motion pictures, and the role of Lear has been coveted and played by many of the world's most accomplished actors.
The play was written between 1603 and 1606 and later revised. Shakespeare's earlier version, The True Chronicle of the History of the Life and Death of King Lear and His Three Daughters, was published in quarto in 1608. The Tragedy of King Lear, a more theatrical version, was included in the 1623 First Folio. Modern editors usually conflate the two, though some insist that each version has its individual integrity that should be preserved.
After the Restoration, the play was often revised with a happy ending for audiences who disliked its dark and depressing tone, but since the 19th century Shakespeare's original version has been regarded as one of his supreme achievements. The tragedy is particularly noted for its probing observations on the nature of human suffering and kinship. George Bernard Shaw wrote, "No man will ever write a better tragedy than Lear".
- May–June 2019
Measure for Measure is a play by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written in 1603 or 1604. It was classified as comedy, but its mood defies those expectations. As a result and for a variety of reasons, some critics have labelled it as one of Shakespeare's problem plays. Originally published in the First Folio of 1623, the play's first recorded performance was in 1604. The play deals with the issues of mercy, justice, and truth and their relationship to pride and humility: "Some rise by sin, and some by virtue fall".
- May 2019
Nathan the Wise is a play published by Gotthold Ephraim Lessing in 1779. It is a fervent plea for religious tolerance. Its performance was forbidden by the church during Lessing's lifetime; it was first performed in 1783 in Berlin. In 1922 it was adapted into a silent film of the same title.
Set in Jerusalem during the Third Crusade, it describes how the wise Jewish merchant Nathan, the enlightened sultan Saladin, and the Templar bridge their gaps between Judaism, Islam and Christianity. Its major themes are friendship, tolerance, relativism of God, a rejection of miracles and a need for communication.
- February 2019
Jekyll & Hyde is a musical thriller based on the novel The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson. Originally conceived for the stage by Frank Wildhorn and Steve Cuden, it features music by Wildhorn, a book by Leslie Bricusse and lyrics by Wildhorn, Bricusse and Cuden. Following a World Premiere run in Houston, Texas the musical embarked on a national tour of the United States prior to its Broadway debut in 1997. Many international productions have since been staged including two subsequent North American tours, two tours of the United Kingdom, a concert version and a re-vamped US tour in 2012 ahead of a 2013 revival on Broadway.
- February 2019
Billy Elliot the Musical is a musical based on the 2000 film Billy Elliot. The music is by Elton John, and book and lyrics are by Lee Hall, who wrote the film's screenplay. The plot revolves around motherless Billy, who trades boxing gloves for ballet shoes. The story of his personal struggle and fulfillment are balanced against a counter-story of family and community strife caused by the UK miners' strike in County Durham, in North Eastern England. Hall's screenplay was inspired in part by A. J. Cronin's 1935 novel about a miners' strike, The Stars Look Down, to which the musical's opening song pays homage.
The musical premiered in London's West End in 2005 and was nominated for nine Laurence Olivier Awards, winning four including Best New Musical. The production is still running strongly, and its success led to productions in Australia, on Broadway and elsewhere. In New York, it won ten Tony Awards and ten Drama Desk Awards, including, in each case, best musical. It has also won numerous awards in Australia including a record-tying seven Helpmann Awards.
- January 2019
Jersey Boys is a jukebox musical with music by Bob Gaudio, lyrics by Bob Crewe, and book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice. It is presented in a documentary-style format that dramatizes the formation, success and eventual break-up of the 1960s rock 'n roll group The Four Seasons. The musical is structured as four "seasons", each narrated by a different member of the band who gives his own perspective on its history and music. Songs include "Big Girls Don't Cry", "Sherry", "December 1963", "My Eyes Adored You", "Stay", "Can't Take My Eyes Off You", "Working My Way Back to You" and "Rag Doll", among others. The title refers to the fact that the members of The Four Seasons are from New Jersey.
The musical opened on Broadway in 2005 and has since had a North American National Tour and productions in London's West End, Las Vegas, Chicago, Toronto, Melbourne and other Australian cities, Singapore and elsewhere. Jersey Boys won four 2006 Tony Awards including Best Musical, and the 2009 Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Musical.