An electric line-up comprising new Australian works, a big Broadway hit and a world premiere book adaptation will form State Theatre Company South Australia’s exciting 2024 season.
Announced on Thursday Oct 12 at Adelaide Convention Centre by State Theatre Company South Australia’s Artistic Director Mitchell Butel, the season promises to inspire, delight and challenge audiences.
“We have a stunning lineup of new South Australian and Australian plays and musicals, beloved classics borne anew and the best of contemporary international theatre, all of which will be brought to life by a sea of new and familiar faces,” Mr Butel says.
“Once again, State Theatre Company South Australia will demonstrate how much it loves collaborating, as we hoist our sails with some esteemed creative partners from Belvoir St Theatre, Country Arts SA, Brink Productions, Sydney Theatre Company, State Opera South Australia and the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra. “All the works in this season meet the moment in unique and powerful ways.”
In season opener The Children, the SA premiere of Lucy Kirkwood’s acclaimed West End and Broadway success, audiences will be transported to a small English coastal cottage where former nuclear scientists, Hazel and Robin, find their peaceful retirement disrupted by a former colleague with hidden intentions. Bringing together a trio of celebrated Australian actors –
Tina Bursill (Doctor Doctor, The Moodys), Genevieve Mooy (Wellmania, The Appleton Ladies’ Potato Race) and Terence Crawford (1984, Girl From The North Country) – under the direction of Corey McMahon (The Bleeding Tree), this tender and provocative production grapples with seismic questions about the future of the planet and the moral dimensions of humanity.
Presented as part of the Adelaide Festival in February is the acclaimed Belvoir St production Blue, written by Balnaves Fellow, AACTA and Logie Award-winner and Kamilaroi man Thomas Weatherall, of Heartbreak High fame. A breathtaking deep dive into the beauty, comedy, joy, and sadness of growing up, Blue stars Wiradjuri man Callan Purcell (recently seen as Aaron Burr in Hamilton) as Mark, who stays connected with his mum through letter exchanges after moving out of his childhood home. A vivid account of a life coloured by tragedy, loss, love and the solace of the sea, Blue graces the Scott Theatre following its hit premiere season under the direction of Bangarra Dance Theatre’s Deborah Brown and with video design by David Bergman, acclaimed for his ingenious film work on The Picture of Dorian Gray.
In a grand collaboration with State Opera South Australia along with Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, Leonard Bernstein’s comic musical masterpiece, Candide arrives in concert form at Her Majesty’s Theatre in May for an extremely limited season of glittery madness and mayhem. Based on Voltaire’s 1759 novella, this ever-relevant Broadway hit tells the story of naïve young Candide, facing exile after falling in love with the Baron’s daughter, Cunegonde, and their mutual embarking on an enthralling, lyrical, sobering but hilarious journey across the globe that challenges their optimistic outlooks on life and love. Voltaire’s characters leap off the page and onto the stage in this major theatrical event, bringing together some of Australia’s most celebrated musical and opera stars, including Alex Lewis (The Merry Widow, Barrie Kosky’s The Nose) as Candide, Annie Aitken (Thoroughly Modern Millie) as Cunegonde, John Longmuir (The Pirates of Penzance, The Barber of Seville) and featuring the legendary talents of Adelaide Cabaret Festival Icon Award-winning superstar Hans (Matt Gilbertson) and Australian and West End stage titan Caroline O’Connor (Chicago, Moulin Rouge, 9 to 5 The Musical).
Artistic Director Mitchell Butel, sharing directing duties with choreographer Amy Campbell, will also assume the role of Narrator and Candide’s teacher, Pangloss, in his first stage appearance since The Normal Heart.
Composed by West Side Story’s Leonard Bernstein and with lyrics from some of the greatest writers of the 20th century including Lillian Hellman, Dorothy Parker and Stephen Sondheim, the score sparkles with classic songs including The Best of All Possible Worlds, Glitter and Be Gay and Eldorado. Marking State Theatre Company South Australia and State Opera South Australia’s first collaboration in more than a decade, Candide promises to be a momentous, moving and colourfully camp night at the theatre.
Also in May comes the Company’s State Educate show Symphonie of the Bicycle, Hew Parham’s illuminating story of an aspiring cyclist told in tandem with the true story of two-time Tour de France champion, Gino Bartali.
A hit at its Adelaide premiere last year for Brink Productions, this solo show from SA’s own Hew Parham is an absurdly hysterical yet ultimately moving portrait of the quest for glory and heroism.
From iconoclastic Australian playwright, columnist and author Van Badham and composer Richard Wise comes the world premiere of The Questions, an edgy rom-com musical exploring the longest first date ever during a lockdown.
Inspired by a true story from the COVID-19 pandemic, The Questions features genre-busting, folk, punk and pop melodies from Van’s long-time collaborator, composer Richard Wise (Late Night Story) performed by a cast of singer-actor-musical dynamos, including Doctor Doctor’s Charles Wu. Coming to the Space Theatre in July, this exciting new comedy taps squarely into the zeitgeist with its hilarious and unsparing observation of modern intimacy.
Joanna Murray-Smith’s intimate portrait on the life and legacy of Australia’s first female prime minister (and South Australia’s own) Julia Gillard comes to Dunstan Playhouse in August. A hit for Sydney Theatre Company and Canberra Theatre Centre when it premiered in 2023, Julia sees the return of the prolific Justine Clarke (Girls & Boys) in the role of a lifetime under the direction of Helpmann Award-winner Sarah Goodes.
Fusing excerpts from Gillard’s famous ‘misogyny speech’ with Joanna Murray-Smith’s dramatic imagination, Julia is a thrilling coming together of history and art, viewed through the prism of Gillard’s childhood, education in Adelaide and her journey into and through the battlefield of Australian politics.
Presented as part of The University of Adelaide’s 150th Anniversary Program, Julia is set to stun South Australian audiences with its profound, wry and intoxicating exploration of gender, privilege and power.
When the Dunstan Playhouse opened in 1974, former Artistic Director, George Ogilvie commissioned David Williamson to write the now legendary play The Department for State Theatre Company South Australia. Fifty years later, the master wordsmith delivers the world premiere of black comedy The Puzzle. AFI and Logie-Award-winning Erik Thomson (Aftertaste, Packed to the Rafters) treads the Dunstan Playhouse boards in September to star in William’s swinging comedy set on the high seas exploring sex, secrecy and second chances.
Under the direction of Artistic Associate Shannon Rush, the riotous comedy taking place on a “lifestyle cruise” is a bitingly funny and cheeky new work from the pen of one of Australia’s most prolific playwrights.
Starring alongside Thomson is Chris Asimos (Ripcord, Hibernation) and recent NIDA graduate Ahunim Abebe, who makes her mainstage debut and also stars in the 2024 season closer, Jack Maggs.
A reworking of Peter Carey’s best-selling and Miles Franklin Award-winning ‘sequel’ to Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations, Jack Maggs comes alive on stage in a sweeping new adaptation by South Australian playwright Samuel Adamson, renowned for his successes at England’s National Theatre with Southwark Fair and The Light Princess with Tori Amos.
Former Artistic Director Geordie Brookman returns to the Company for the first time in five years to direct a cast of beloved and celebrated South Australian actors including Mark Saturno (The Goat or, Who Is Sylvia?, A View from the Bridge) as Jack Maggs, James Smith (Euphoria, Girl From The North Country) as Tobias Oates, Jacqy Philips (Mr Burns, a Post- Electric Play) as well as newcomer Ahunim Abebe, fresh from her debut role in The Puzzle.
Following the story of the enigmatic ex-convict Jack Maggs (Carey’s version of Magwitch) who, upon his return to London from Australia, must embark on a relentless quest to find his missing ‘son’ Henry Phipps, Jack Maggs takes audiences on a strange and surprising slither around the Old Dart with a cavalcade of dazzling Dickensian characters.
The 2024 season also includes the return of the Company’s umbrella program Stateside, which includes the June season of sci-fi epic Starweaver at Flinders University Drama Centre (presented by young theatremakers Jamie Hornsby and Ellen Graham of Madness of Two) and Brink Productions’ Shore Break, a poetic one-hander from Chris Pitman (The Dictionary of Lost Words). Premiering to critical acclaim in 2023, Pitman’s searing, research-based tale of those living solitary existences in remote locations comes to the Space Theatre in September.
Subscriptions to the 2024 season are now on sale at statetheatrecompany.com.au