Is there a secret to success for new Australian musicals?

With a new musical theatre production based on the life of Ned Kelly set to open this week, we look at the challenges of mounting new works of this nature.

For every home grown work of musical theatre that receives critical or commercial acclaim, such as Mathew Frank and Dean Bryant’s Prodigal or Peter Fitzpatrick’s jukebox musical Flowerchildren – The Mamas and Papas Story, there’s several more commercial failures waiting in the wings. Some, like Manning Clark’s History of Australia The Musical make it to a mainstage season and are never seen again. Others, like Strange Bedfellows have an out of town tryout (in this instance, Albury) only to see future mainstage seasons cancelled.

Unlock Padlock Icon

Unlock this content?

Access this content and more

Richard Watts is ArtsHub's National Performing Arts Editor; he also presents the weekly program SmartArts on Three Triple R FM, and serves as the Chair of La Mama Theatre's volunteer Committee of Management. Richard is a life member of the Melbourne Queer Film Festival, and was awarded the status of Melbourne Fringe Living Legend in 2017. In 2020 he was awarded the Sidney Myer Performing Arts Awards' Facilitator's Prize. Most recently, Richard was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Green Room Awards Association in June 2021. Follow him on Twitter: @richardthewatts