Next to Normal | Lane Cove Theatre Company

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Image by Dawn Pugh

They look like any other normal family: a father as breadwinner, a mother as caretaker, a deadbeat son, and an overachieving daughter. But this family is working hard to hide their grief and gain control over their mother’s spiralling mental health. Next to Normal is a musical about coming to terms with the past and finding a middle ground everyone can feel steady on.

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Carousel | Sydney University Musical Theatre Ensemble (MUSE)

Carousel sells itself as a misunderstood love story: Julie, a respectable yet unusual girl, falls in love with the rough-around-the-edges Billy, a carousel barker with a seedy background. Things are difficult from the beginning as Billy takes out his anger and paranoia around marriage on Julie, until he eventually hits her. In a money-making scheme gone wrong, Billy unexpectedly dies and is given the chance for a redemption arc that requires a supernatural element.

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Carrie: the Musical | Louis Ellis Productions

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Image by Rebeccalynne Photography

If recreating the classic Stephen King horror novel as a Broadway musical sounds like a bad idea to you, you’re not alone. Carrie, with music by Michael Gore, lyrics by Dean Pitchford, and book by Lawrence D Cohen, was one of the biggest flops in Broadway history. Closing after 16 previews and 5 performances, it’s a show nobody wanted to touch for nearly 25 years. This version of events focuses a lot less on the supernatural and gruesome elements and instead turns the story into a high school drama about the consequences of bullying. With the prominence of school shootings and religious extremism still in our news cycles, this production seems timely with a touch of something darker.

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Merrily We Roll Along | Little Triangle

Little Triangle is a brand new Sydney theatre company dedicated to reprising under-performed musicals at a ticket price point that doesn’t cost their audience a week’s rent. As an effort to expand and diversify the musical theatre scene in Sydney, this is a valiant way to open a company. Their second production, Merrily We Roll Along, just closed their season at the Depot Theatre to wide praise and keen look-outs for their next show!

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PARADE | Sydney University Musical Theatre Ensemble (MUSE)

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Image by Keshav Unhelkar

PARADE is a show that fits at the intersection of a few pertinent global discussions: racial and religious persecution, misogyny and violence against women, and a lighter resurgence of American historical musicals. Perhaps the consistent feeling that the political climate of the United States is sliding further and further into the past is calling people to turn to staged political events with clearer moral codes and reliable heros’ journeys. Whatever the reason, director Hayden Tonazzi’s desire to add purpose and meaning to the society’s choice of major production is a commendable one.

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