Our Theatre Matters team of editors, writers and reviewers were asked which musicals they would most like to see have their Australian premiere.
125 votes were cast to create our list of the Top Ten Most Wanted Musicals.
10. Sister Act the Musical
The film was a huge hit and theatre fans who have seen this show overseas have loved it. It was already a movie about singing nuns, so the transition to a stage adaptation would clearly make sense to the general public. After the success of numerous productions of The Sound of Music it’s clear that Australian audiences enjoy musicals with singing nuns.
9. Atlantis The Musical
We’ve been following this musical since the first concert presentation at Melbourne’s Chapel Off Chapel.The incredible score is written by Australia’s Matthew Lee Robinson and it was clear from the outset that this was something very special. Well, a lot has happened since that first concert presentation. Here’s the summary of the musical from Matthew Lee Robinson’s website:
ATLANTIS transports us to a mysterious ancient island on the eve of sacred solstice. A spirited Firstborn discovers an impossible stranger, releasing a long-hidden truth that threatens to destroy everything they know.
The new original musical ATLANTIS features music and lyrics by UTAS Stephen Schwartz Award-winner Matthew Lee Robinson and book by Robinson, Hadestown dramaturg
A developmental production of ATLANTIS opened at Virginia Repertory Theatre in spring 2019 by special arrangement with Greg Schaffert Productions (Tony Award-winner Peter and the Starcatcher) and Glass Half Full Productions (Victoria Weinberg, associate producer), in association with Power Arts.
ATLANTIS is developed with and helmed by Tony-nominated director Kristin Hanggi (Rock of Ages), with scenic design by Emmy-winner Jason Sherwood (
ATLANTIS has previously been developed at the 2018 Tuacahn New Works Festival in Utah, and in New York City readings with developmental feedback from Stephen Schwartz and representatives from Disney Theatrical Productions, Manhattan Theatre Club, Stuart Thompson Productions and The Araca Group. These readings were financially supported by Greg Schaffert Productions, Glass Half Full Productions, the Australia Council for the Arts, and Power Arts. A Melbourne outing of ATLANTIS – IN CONCERT was the recipient of the Theatre People Pro Choice Award for Best Concert Presentation.
We really hope Atlantis will make its Broadway debut, but we’d also love to see it here!
8. Prince of Egypt Musical
This stage adaptation of the DreamWorks Animation film tells the story of Moses and features the international best-selling, Academy Award®-winning song ‘When You Believe’. Without doubt, the success of the film was due to the incredibly rich score by multi Grammy® and Academy Award®-winner Stephen Schwartz (Wicked, Godspell).
The challenge for any producer wanting to stage this musical is the enormity of the show. The official website states “featuring a huge company of almost 60 artists, The Prince of Egypt is one of the biggest musicals ever staged. Live fire effects, illusions, pyrotechnics and performer flying, together with state-of-the-art projections, video and sound designs, are all utilised to deliver the theatrical spectacle.”
7. Dear Evan Hansen
How many school choirs have performed ‘You Will Be Found’ in recent years? The release of the film adaptation of Dear Evan Hansen does not mean we no longer need the stage production.
This one has been on our list for years. It’s about time Australian audiences got to experience Dear Evan Hansen live.
6. Back to the Future: The Musical
It’s a well-loved film that has now been adapted for the stage as a musical. Like Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, we know the Delorean will no doubt be a huge feature of the show.
This is one of those musicals where you already know the story, and you really want to see how they transform it into a musical. We’re anticipating a fun night of entertainment.
The official website asks you to choose your destination, so perhaps Marty needs to set the location for Australia?
5. Anastasia The Musical
The musical is based on the 1997 animated film of the same name and tells the legend of the Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia who may have escaped the execution of family. The Broadway production featured Australia’s own Caroline O’Connor as Countess Lily Malevsky-Malevitch.
The musical has played in a number of European countries and has been translated into various languages, yet still hasn’t made it to Australia. We’d love to see Caroline O’Connor reprise her role in an Australian production.
4. Der Glöckner von Notre Dame / The Hunchback of Notre Dame
With music by Alan Menkin, this Disney musical had its world premiere in Berlin, Germany back in 1999. The original Disney film and musical are based on the Victor Hugo novel. The German language musical was titled Der Glöckner von Notre Dame and was the first Disney musical to premiere outside the US. The season ran for three years, becoming one of Berlin’s longest-running musicals.
A revised production of Der Glöckner von Notre Dame opened in Berlin in 2017, starring Australia’s Sarah Bowden as Esmerelda. (Sarah is the sister of Blake Bowden who is currently wowing audiences as Raoul in Phantom of the Opera). The musical then toured to other German cities, with each new city featuring a local choir in the production.
Theatre Matters CEO, Allison Hilbig had the opportunity to see Sarah Bowden as Esmerelda in this stunning production in Berlin in 2017 (Sarah is featured in the video clip below). This German production was a much darker musical than the usual Disney offerings, however, the rich vocals performed by with a large (local) choir in addition to the full ensemble made for a truly outstanding production.
The musical made its English language debut as The Hunchback of Notre Dame in a further revised version for the US in 2014. In an attempt to make the musical more family friendly and typically Disney, the deaths of two characters were left out of this US version.
A cast recording, featuring Sarah Bowden as Esmerelda, is available (in German language).
This was a popular choice by our team – some of whom have seen the musical on Broadway and would love to see an Australian production. The challenge for any producer is selling a new show to the Australian general public.
The official website describes the musical in this way: Welcome to HADESTOWN, where a song can change your fate. This acclaimed musical by singer-songwriter Anaïs Mitchell and director Rachel Chavkin is winner of 8 Tony Awards including Best Musical and the Grammy Award® for Best Musical Theater Album. It intertwines two mythic tales — that of young dreamers Orpheus and Eurydice, and that of King Hades and his wife Persephone — as it invites you on an unforgettable journey to the underworld and back. Performed by a vibrant ensemble of actors, singers and dancers, HADESTOWN invites you to imagine how the world could be.
Time will tell if Hadestown will journey not simply to the underworld, but to downunder.
2. Waitress The Musical
Featuring music and lyrics by Grammy Award® winner Sara Bareilles, Waitress the Musical tells the story of Jenna, a waitress and expert pie-maker who dreams of a way out of her small town and rocky marriage.
While the musical has ended its Broadway season, it is now touring through the US and the UK, in addition to numerous other countries across the globe. Across the globe, but not yet to Australia.
An Australian premiere was announced pre-COVID but with no cast named. The Australian production is currently on hold with producers stating, “At this stage due to the current pandemic we’re unable to confirm dates for Waitress but we’re doing everything we can to bring this wonderful musical to Australian stages!”
Hopefully it’s just a matter of time before we see Waitress finally open in Australia.
1. Beetlejuice The Musical
With music by Australia’s own Eddie Perfect, this was the most requested musical from our team. The musical earned Eddie Perfect a Tony nomination for the Best Original Score, and quite frankly, we were all very excited for him!
Based on the 1988 film of the same name, it’s a story already known to many, which would make it an easier musical to sell to the general public than a completely new show. Beetlejuice is about to close its Broadway season in January but has developed a huge fan-base, and from the response of our team there are plenty of Australian fans.
The big question is: who would we cast to play the role of Beetlejuice?