New York has Broadway, London has the West End, and Sydney has … well just about every kind of musical, live performance and theatre venue you could want, all in the heart of the city.
There’s nothing like being in a small inner-city suburban theatre, so close to the actors you could just about touch them.
But then we’re suckers for the big stage numbers too, bright lights, a chorus line and all.
And just when we thought we couldn’t be any more wowed, the national opera company goes and sticks a floating stage in Sydney Harbour!
Here are a few of the stellar productions now playing or coming soon.
Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour
Hearing the powerful notes of aria Nessun dorma is enough to send chills down our spine at the best of times.
Add a stage floating on Sydney Harbour, complete with a set featuring a 60-metre long dragon and a 16-metre high pagoda, and we’re awe-struck.
This is the ambitious platform that Opera Australia has set for its performance of Turandot.
The Chinese fable of danger, love and an ice-hearted princess is not just for opera buffs either.
Opera Australia calls it “the perfect opportunity for people who have never been to an opera”, while those who know Turandot already are “going to be amazed by this production”.
And there’s plenty of scope to make it a totally glamorous night out: grab a bite or a drink at the “Platinum Club” pop-up dining room and bar, set amongst the tree tops; marvel at the nightly fireworks; or arrive by water taxi (who needs a limo anyway!). March 24 – April 24.
Romeo and Juliet at the Opera House
The Bell Shakespeare theatre company opens its 2016 season with one of the great bard’s most famous plays of all, Romeo and Juliet , a symbol of love and romance throughout the ages the world over.
While the joy of love at first sight and the fate of the young star-crossed lovers gives way to tragedy, there’s a reason this story has withstood the test of time.
It’s Shakespeare that “allows us to wear our emotion on our sleeve,” says Bell.
The theatre company promises fabulous frocks in this production too!
February 20 – March 27. In Conversation with the director free event on February 28, 1pm – 2pm.
The Blind Giant is Dancing at Belvoir Street Theatre
OK, we’re going to call it.
We love any sort of live theatre in any setting.
But Belvoir is undoubtedly up there as one of our all-time favourite venues.
It’s small and intimate, tucked away in the back streets of Surry Hills, and puts you up so close to the performers that there is nowhere for them to hide.
And we can honestly say in the past 20 years, we’ve seen only one show that was a little boring for our tastes.
But everything else … fabulous!
Not to mention that our favourite Aussie actors, including Ben Mendelsohn, David Wenham and Jacqueline McKenzie, have graced the stage here.
Catch a great Australian play about party politics and power struggles in The Blind Giant is Dancing. February 13 – March 20.
Sydney Theatre Company
Two great Australian stories are on the bill for February at Sydney Theatre Company in Walsh Bay.
The Secret River, sold out in 2013, returns for an encore season (until February 20).
Two of our nearest and dearest were major fan’s of Kate Grenville’s award-winning historical novel set on the NSW Hawkesbury River and they loved the theatrical adaptation too.
Also playing until February 20, The Golden Age brings to the stage the story of a band of exiles discovered in the Tasmanian wilderness in 1939.
It promises to be tough and gritty – the play comes with a content warning for violence, strong language, nudity, gun shots and strobe lighting.
We’re super excited about the big shows and musicals Sydney Lyric has coming in 2016.
Singin’ in the Rain kicks off from July, complete with 12,000 litres of water to bring to life the show’s famous song and dance routine.
Before then there’s the final run of Matilda the Musical (until February 28), 5000 years of Chinese culture brought to life in Shen Yun (March 8-13) and the big power ballads that will have you pumping your fist and singing along to We Will Rock You, from April.
Check out Lyric’s sister Capitol Theatre too.
Apart from the great shows, the beautifully restored venue is a sight to behold – twinkling domed ceiling, Romanesque statues, ornately carved chairs and all.
If you have your heart set on seeing a particular production, book early (and book a room at Y Hotels while you’re at it).
The best shows often sell out.
If you’re not too fussy about what to watch, wait until you’ve arrived at Y Hotels to try for cheap tickets.
Bell Shakespeare offers deals to under 18s and under 30s.
Belvoir discounts tickets for under 30s and groups.
Opera Australia has a “student rush” deal – any unsold seats are available to full-time students for $50 from the box office one hour prior to all performances.
Sydney Theatre Company offers $20 deals.
Check out these offers and more via the theatre hyperlinks above.
Know a great show playing in Sydney? Tell us in the comments section below.