The Australian Musical from the Beginning
Allen & Unwin, $79.99 hb, 432 pp
What is the musical’s appeal? Performing arts venues in Australia’s capital cities stage them year after year; a lucrative box office seems to be virtually guaranteed. The feel-good mix of song, melodrama, and vibrant dance – not forgetting the bonus of a happy ending – can lift the spirits and entertain the entire family. Recently, Chicago (Melbourne, Brisbane), West Side Story, and Billy Elliot (Adelaide) secured packed houses.
Australian classics such as The Boy From Oz, Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, and Eddie Perfect’s Beetlejuice confirm the country’s stellar contribution to the art form, but the rise of the local musical and the triumphs and tribulations of those who championed the genre have gone undocumented until now.