As Melbourne’s largest performing arts venue, the stages of Arts Centre Melbourne have been graced by world class performers of just about every genre. We asked the team at ACM what their most memorable live events have been over the years. It was no easy task but below are just some of the incredible experiences they were able to share with us:
- Sleeping Beauty – The Australian Ballet (1984)
The first ever performance at Arts Centre Melbourne was Maina Gielgud’s 1984 production of The Sleeping Beauty, presented by the Australian Ballet. Adorning the State Theatre stage with lavish sets and costumes designed by Hugh Colman, the production reflected the opulence of the original production, first staged in Russia’s Mariinsky Theatre in 1890. Post-performance, the stage was cleared to make way for a celebratory opening night party, with guests partying into the early hours of the morning!
- The Seekers (1967)
No list of top concerts from Arts Centre Melbourne would be complete without The Seekers, their Sidney Myer Music Bowl performance a seminal moment in Australian music history.
Among our nation’s first popular music exports to enjoy overseas fame, the Melburnian band returned home in the late 60s as part of a national tour. Drawing 200,000 attendees, their hometown concert was noted in the Guinness Book of Records as the biggest concert attendance ever in the southern hemisphere.
The vibrant green dress the lead singer, Judith Durham, wore for the performance is now part of the Australian Performing Arts Collection, that Arts Centre Melbourne are proud to be custodians of.
- Ring Cycle – Opera Australia (2013 & 2016)
Opera Australia’s production of Richard Wagner’s Ring Cycle is one of the most epic operatic productions State Theatre audiences have ever seen.
First performed in the 1870s, this monumental production spans 16 hours and four parts, the story tracing the rice and fall of gods and humans, dragons and giants. The largest production Opera Australia have staged, Ring Cycle put the incredible skill and grandeur of the company on show.
- Kylie at SMMB (2019)
The queen of Australian pop, Kylie wowed audiences at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl for her Golden tour in 2019. Returning to Australia to tour her record of the same name, this performance marked Kylie’s first ever outdoor headline show on Australian soil.
Complete with back up dancers, multiple costume changes, sparkling sets, glitter and confetti, the performance had all the glamour and showmanship we have come to expect from this superstar.
A performer very dear to Arts Centre Melbourne, Kylie is a patron of the Australian Music Vault.
- Jack Charles V the Crown
An extraordinary tale told by one of Australia’s living treasures, Jack Charles V The Crown made its world premiere on our Fairfax Studio during Melbourne Festival 2010. Such was its impact, the show returned to the same stage for an encore season in 2016.
An autobiographical work by veteran actor, musician, Koori elder and activist Uncle Jack Charles, this one man show is a poignant record of life as a member of the stolen generations. Receiving critical acclaim, it marked a vital moment in the history of Ilbijerri, Australia’s longest running First Nations theatre company.
- Dominoes (2016)
Since 2014, Arts Centre Melbourne has been host to the Betty Amsden Participation Program, an annual community event inspiring Melburnians to tap into their creativity.
In 2016, Dominoes saw 7,000 breezeblocks set up around Melbourne’s streets, engaging volunteers from all over the city to place these in homes, shops, community centres and gathering places. The fall saw these life size dominoes snake their way all over town, concluding the journey on the Arts Centre Melbourne forecourt.
Watch the above video to witness Dominoes in action!
- Hannah Gadsby – Nanette (2017)
After being awarded ‘The Barry’ for Best Show at the 2017 Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Australian comedian Hannah Gadsby brought her award-winning masterpiece Nanette to the Playhouse Theatre stage.
Powerful, raw and deeply personal, Nanette subverted audience expectations of stand-up comedy, weaving punchlines into reflections on gender, sexuality and childhood turmoil. It is now available to stream via Netflix.
- Lord of the Flies (2017)
This extraordinary dance-theatre work, choreographed and directed by Sir Matthew Bourne, made its Australian debut at Arts Centre Melbourne. The ensemble of performers was made up of team of professional dancers – and 23 Australian schoolboys. The Australians were selected from open-auditions held throughout Victoria.
An adaptation of William Golding’s classic novel, Lord of the Flies was a chilling, beautiful and intensely physical piece of dance-storytelling – complete with a bloody pigs head.
- AO Lang Pho
A highlight of the 2020 Asia TOPA program from former Cirque du Soleil performer Tuấn Lê, À Ố Làng Phố fused circus and bamboo to convey the beauty of Vietnamese culture. The title translating to ‘from village to city”, it featured dizzying feats of strength and agility from some of Vietnam’s most talented acrobats.
2020 marked the second iteration of Asia TOPA – a performing arts festival celebrating the creative imagination of Asia-Pacific artists and cultures.
- Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time
The award-winning production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time – presented in partnership with the National Theatre of Great Britain and our resident company MTC – tells the story of a boy who is exceptional at maths but ill-equipped to interpret everyday life.
Arts Centre Melbourne ran a hands-on program of creative events alongside the show’s run, featuring over 50 different workshops inspired by the themes of the production. This included a sold-out relaxed performance that provided an invaluable opportunity for neurodiverse young people and their families to experience the show in a friendly, adapted theatre environment.