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Trading Netflix for the stage: A theatre binge

Laura Peppas

When I was young, the theatre was a destination for my parents on almost every date night.

On a Friday, they’d dress up for dinner followed by a show, arriving home to breathlessly tell me how amazing it was. It all seemed very glamorous and I’d vow that when I was old enough, I’d do the same. Fast-track a few years and the majority of my “date nights” consist of two things: Netflix and the couch. It was on date #351, in the middle of a box set I’d seen twice already, that I knew something had to give.

So when I was offered the chance to travel to Sydney to preview a series of shows coming to Canberra Theatre Centre, I decided it was the perfect opportunity for a theatre revival: a “theatre binge”, in place of my usual Netflix binge.

From the first show, it was clear what I’d been missing. Theatre can give something that the box set at home just can’t – unexpected, atmospheric, and exhilarating, it’s a rare opportunity to let yourself be taken in by the story and actors around you with no distractions. With every performance so different and the actors just a stone’s throw away; it’s hard not to be taken in by the adrenaline; like listening to a live concert instead of your IPod. As my parents once did, my husband and I would arrive home from each show discussing each detail.

The shows we saw had something for everyone – whether you’re after dance, romance, action or dark humour – and they’re all coming to Canberra Theatre Centre soon. Here’s each show in a nutshell…

And scroll down for details of how you can be part of our Click + Connect evening at Little Shop of Horrors!

Little Shop of Horrors

At Canberra Theatre Centre from 25 – 29 May

On Friday we arrived at Hayes Theatre in Potts Point, a small venue hidden away from the hustle and bustle of Kings Cross. Upstairs was a small bar lit with scattered candles, where we enjoyed a wine before heading in for the show.

Although it’s a cult classic, I’ve never actually seen Little Shop of Horrors until now. I’m so glad I finally did, because this revival of the rock musical had me transfixed from start to finish. In a nutshell, the show centres around Seymour (played brilliantly by Brent Hill) and his colleague, the ditsy but sweet Audrey (Esther Hannaford), who work at Mushnik’s Flower Shop in a run-down, beat up neighborhood referred to as “Skid Row.”

Little Shop of Horrors

Audrey and Seymour from Little Shop of Horrors

Struggling from a lack of customers, the store’s owner Mr Mushnik (Tyler Coppin) prompts to shut up shop, until Audrey suggests displaying an unusual plant Seymour owns and has dubbed “Audrey II”, which soon starts attracting business. After accidentally pricking his finger, Seymour discovers Audrey II needs human blood – not water – to thrive.

Before he knows it, the R & B singing plant is promising Seymour fame, fortune and most importantly, the object of his affections: Audrey. This is where the show takes a darker turn, but it’s filled with humour and heart, driven by stellar performances from all the cast, including a frighteningly hilarious solo by Audrey’s abusive boyfriend, Orin Scrivello. Disclaimer note: you’ll be singing the catchy songs for days after.

Little Shop of Horrors.

Little Shop of Horrors

Perfect for: 
While it’s not one for children, this musical is perfect for a girls’ night out or date (my husband, who is not usually a theatre-goer, had his toes tapping the whole time!)

Come along to our Click + Connect event!

Romeo and Juliet

At Canberra Theatre Centre from: 1 – 9 April

Next it was on to Sydney’s most iconic venue, The Sydney Opera House, for Bell Shakespeare’s take on Romeo and Juliet.

Known for breathing new life into the works of Shakespeare, Bell Shakespeare’s spin on this classic tale of forbidden love, directed by Peter Evans, did not disappoint. Audiences will recognise many faces in the cast, including Alex Williams as Romeo, who was last seen on screens in INXS: Never Tear Us Apart and as Julian Assange in the television film Underground: The Julian Assange story.


Romeo and Juliet

The moodily lit set, with lanterns and a 19th century-style proscenium with adjacent balconies, adds atmosphere from the get-go while the costumes, all inspired by the Elizabethan period, are a visual feast.

What really makes this a must-see is the cast: Romeo is played with conviction by Wiliams while Kelly Paterniti offers a gutsy Juliet. The supporting cast are also brilliant; sword-fights between the two families at war will have the front row gripping their seats and Michelle Doake adds comic relief as Juliet’s nurse. 

Romeo and Juliet123

Romeo and Juliet

Perfect for:
This is a fantastic show for a family with kids 12 and up, especially those keen to introduce teens to Shakespeare. It’s also a great date night, taking you back to how romance was done before texting and Tinder.                       


At the Canberra Theatre Centre from 19 – 21 May

For my last night, it was on to the Roslyn Packer Theatre in Walsh Bay for The Sydney Dance Company’s CounterMove.

The double bill production begins with Cacti, a piece by multi-award winning Swedish choreographer Alexander Ekman.

The piece sees 16 dancers stand – seemingly trapped – on oversized scrabble tiles. While a string quartet plays, and spoken recordings give tongue in cheek narration of the action, the dancers run, fall, writhe and try to escape from their invisible prisons.

CounterMove's Cacti

CounterMove’s Cacti

I loved this piece for its humour and originality: at times dance can have a reputation for being stuffy, but this lets its audience in on the joke while showing off the impressive ability of its dancers. I was also pleased to see there was a Canberra boy, Sam Young-Wright, doing us proud on stage.

The second half takes a more dramatic turn with Lux Tenebris – named for the Latin term meaning “light and darkness – a work from Sydney Dance Company Artistic Director Rafael Bonachela. With strobed lighting creating drama, the piece begins with dancers crossing the stage in a fast-paced, frenetic way, with the audience only catching a glimpse as light illuminates them on the darkened stage.


Charmene Yap and Todd Sutherland in CounterMove’s Lux Tenebris

The strength of the dancers in this bold piece is breathtaking, particularly a duet from Charmene Yap and Todd Sutherland, in which they smoothly move through an elaborate physical partnership. The two works contrast eachother beautifully, bringing to light the diverse talents of these amazing dancers.

Perfect for: Whether you go with family, friends or a date, you don’t have to be a dance tragic to appreciate this production. With humour, drama and impressive talent, it’s the perfect evening out.

For more information on these and other shows coming to Canberra Theatre Centre, click here.

This is a sponsored post, but all opinions are the author’s own. For more information about our sponsored post policy, click here. 


Laura Peppas

Laura Peppas is HerCanberra's senior journalist and communications manager and is the Editor of Unveiled, HerCanberra's wedding magazine. She is enjoying uncovering all that Canberra has to offer, meeting some intriguing locals and working with a pretty awesome bunch of women. Laura has lived in Canberra for most of her life and when she's not writing fervently she enjoys pursuing her passion for travel, reading, online shopping and chai tea. More about the Author