G’day from gay down under. WorldPride (yes, all one word – I imagine it’s said like, “Just Jack!”) hits Sydney, Australia February 17th – March 5th, and there’s plenty more than the de rigueur circuit parties and Kylie gigs to enjoy. The vibrant local arts scene has a range of options to keep you entertained if you want some time away from the city’s much-loved queer bars and clubs, featuring a range of new works and certified classics, and some edgier fare to savour. Here, we take a look at some of the cultural happenings (both officially sanctioned WorldPride events, and beyond) that have caught our queer eye. We’ve got your theatre, music, cabaret, comedy, art, and even Mardi Gras costume-making all sewn up. Come next month, queer Sydney is going to be bursting at the seams with events, during what will hopefully be a very hot and very proud WorldPride.
Sydney Theatre Company is turning its iconic Wharf Theatre into a Sydney-centric version of a Jane Austen novel with Hubris & Humiliation. This new play sees young Elliot land in Sydney with the aim of finding a rich husband to satisfy the wishes of his mother, but Elliot (and his side-kick sister Paige) will end up taking the long way round to finding love and commitment. STC say it’s “Muriel’s Wedding-meets-Kath & Kim with all the queer fabulousness of Priscilla Queen of the Desert.” Read our exclusive interview with playwright Lewis Treston.
Hubris & Humiliation runs from January 20th – March 4th, 2023 at Sydney Theatre Company.
Academy Award winner Tarell Alvin McCraney’s (Moonlight) play, Choir Boy, gets its Australian Premiere in time for WorldPride. Pharus Young is determined to be the best choir leader in the 50 year history of Charles R. Drew Prep School for Boys, but in a world of stuffy tradition, toxic masculinity and teen angst, can he gain their respect to rise above? Directed by Dino Dimitriadis and Zindzi Okenyo (seven methods of killing kylie jenner), this promises to be a not-to-be-missed production.
Choir Boy runs from February 14th – March 11th, 2023 at Riverside Parramatta.
If some tantric fun is more your vibe, Griffin Theatre Company in Kings Cross are bringing us Sex Magick by Nicholas Brown. A new comedy about a queer South Asian-Australian masseuse searching for bigger and better things than just rubbing down Sydney’s pampered elite. Directed by artistic director Declan Greene, they promise “a tantalizing mix of live video and ancient Indian Kathakali dance theatre in an experience that will be like nothing else on Sydney stages in 2023. Guaranteed.”
Sex Magick runs from February 17th – March 25th, 2023 at Griffin Theatre Company.
Tucked away in Sydney’s Surry Hills, Belvoir St Theatre are also premiering a new comedy, focusing on a lesbian divorce, with Blessed Union written by Maeve Marsden (the creator of Sydney’s excellent QueerStories salon). Blessed Union sees long-term couple Ruth and Judith examining their settled “happy” life as an ideal, married queer couple and wondering if there might be something more. And if you’re staying around Sydney beyond WorldPride, it might also be worth catching Belvoir and Hayes Theatre’s new production of Sondheim’s classic, Into The Woods.
Blessed Union runs from February 11th – March 12th, 2023 at Belvoir St Theatre.
Into The Woods runs from March 18th – April 23rd, 2023 at Belvoir St Theatre.
Between the gay village around Oxford St, and the more alternative queer vibes of Newtown, sits the Seymour Centre which is playing host to a range of WorldPride shows starting with new play, CAMP. This work sees Elias Jamieson Brown (Green Park), explore five decades of queer Australian history and the birth of Australia’s fierce gay rights movement, inspired by the true stories all around us.
CAMP runs from February 15th – March 4th, 2023 at Seymour Centre.
In the heart of Sydney’s gay village, Darlinghurst Theatre Company has an eclectic range of queer shows. One stand out, All the Sex I’ve Ever Had, allows our LGBTQIA+ elders tell their (raunchy) tales. Real stories pour forth in this taboo-breaking experience, giving the spotlight to many of those who are often rendered invisible by queer society.
All the Sex I’ve Ever Had runs from February 21st – 26th, 2023 at Darlinghurst Theatre Company.
Fruit Box Theatre has a whole bunch of new shows kicking off with a new play, French Letters and Leather Cleaner, set in a struggling adult store. This farce about community, gentrification, and the commodification of queer spaces should put a cheeky smile on your face.
Drag star Etcetera Etcetera is opening up about her own past in Big Screen, Small Screen (Everything I Didn’t Learn at Film School). Blending an exploration of film history with her own tales of being gender non-conforming in an industry that loves to typecast. Time to start popping that corn!
In Comfort, Spin, Travel, a trans-masculine narrator is locked in a deserted office supply store playing the game “comfort, spin, travel”, used to test wheely office chairs. Overnight they ponder the responsibility placed on trans people to advocate, educate, and be endlessly patient. How do we measure the usefulness of a person?
French Letters and Leather Cleaner runs from February 10th – 24th, 2023 at KXT On Broadway.
Big Screen, Small Screen (Everything I Didn’t Learn at Film School) runs from February 11th – 23rd, 2023 at KXT On Broadway.
Comfort, Spin, Travel runs from February 24th – March 11th, 2023 at Meraki Arts Bar.
The high hair, and high camp, of the Tony-award winning Hairspray is back in town for another run with a cast lead by Shane Jacobson as Edna Turnblad, Todd McKenney as Wilbur Turbblad, and Rhonda Burchmore as Velma Von Tussle. John Waters meets Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman’s tunes? It’s an established international hit for a reason!
Hairspray runs from February 5th – March 19th, 2023 at Sydney Lyric.
Richard O’Brien’s The Rocky Horror Show will be taking over the Theatre Royal for the show’s 50th Anniversary production. Starring Jason Donovan, this stone-cold classic will leave you quivering with antici….*
The Rocky Horror Show runs from 19 Feb – 25 Mar, 2023 at the Theatre Royal.
Not explicitly queer, but definitely also high on camp is the new production of Joseph & the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat “direct from the London Palladium”, with its gloriously cheesy tunes, bold colours, and some skimpy costumes.
Joseph & the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat runs from February 11th – April 9th, 2023 at Capitol Theatre.
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes hits up Sydney’s small-but-mighty musical theatre space, the Hayes Theatre. A queer Australian production team serve up high-femme camp, brining a queer lens to this classic comedy. Top notch talent in an intimate venue, the Hayes has earned a reputation for taking big musicals and adapting them into powerhouse smaller productions, so this is definitely one to check out.
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes runs from February 16th – March 18th, 2023 at Hayes Theatre.
If Bollywood more your style, then don’t miss Sunderella; a queer Bollywood take on Cinderella, back after a sold-out 2017 run. Expect big dance breaks, a fairytale romance and plenty of drama!
Sunderella runs from March 1st – 4th, 2023 at ARA Darling Quarter Theatre.
If you’re a Disney prince, princess, or nonbinary royalty, then definitely head to the newly refurbished Concert Hall at the iconic Sydney Opera House for an evening of classic Disney tunes, celebrating the Mouse House’s centenary. While not queer per se, it will include those anthemic tunes we’ve claimed as our own, and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra is always first-rate.
Disney 100: The Concert runs from February 23rd – 25th, 2023 at the Sydney Opera House.
During WorldPride, the Seymour Centre is playing host to two dance-related shows that bend the form. Dan Daw returns to Australia bringing his company’s blend of dance and theatre, with The Dan Daw Show. A co-production with London’s celebrated Sadler’s Wells, it’s described as “a peep into the shiny and sweaty push-pull of living with shame, whilst bursting with pride.”
The Dan Daw Show runs from February 21st – 24th, 2023 at the Seymour Centre.
Also at the Seymour, KING is a collaboration between award-winning choreographer Shaun Parker, renowned vocalist Ivo Dimchev, and nine dancers. Set in a fantastical realm—part cocktail bar, part jungle, reminiscent of 80s gay bars—KING is an exploration of male sexuality and identity under oppressive power structures.
KING runs from February 28th – March 4th, 2023 at the Seymour Centre.
Matador, the high-energy latin fusion of burlesque, dance and jaw-dropping circustry is back; revamped, revised and ready to go! 14 performers tell the tale of forbidden love, carnal desires, passion and pain, a tale of a love torn bull and a seductive matador.
Matador runs from February 16th – 26th, 2023 at Riverside Parramatta.
A lucky few will get to see Phillip Adams’ provocative contemporary dance Triptych in the intimate Phoenix Central Park. Triptych celebrates the cultural kitsch of Christian spirituality and transforms its heteronormative iconography with a queer veneer, inspired by Francis Bacon’s art. This will be extreme, and not for the faint-hearted, promising “a sphincter-sex-sling installation, performers portray Bacon’s theatrical and surreal imaginariums of the crucifixion in a Disney-esque, porn-like ballet parody of penetrations”. Tickets are allocated via a ballot.
Triptych runs from February 17th – 25th, 2023 at Phoenix Central Park.
Queer Screen’s Mardi Gras Film Festival hits its “dirty thirty” in 2023, check out The Queer Review’s MGFF23 preview. The eclectic lineup, including several world and Australian premieres, comprises 166 films screening over 16 days in cinemas, outdoors, and on demand at home, alongside a program of panel discussions, workshops, industry networking events, and parties. A number of The Queer Review‘s recent favourite features will screen, including Framing Agnes, You Can Live Forever, All Man: The International Male Story, The Inspection and Lonesome.
Mardi Gras Film Festival: 30th Anniversary runs at venues across the city from February 15th – 2 March 2nd, 2023.
Opera Australia is giving some of the biggest classics a queer, Aussie twist with Opera Up Late, promising “a wild journey through the world of opera”. Director Shaun Rennie is reimagining the tunes and throwing in a few cheeky surprises, with some of the city’s best opera singers for this late night cultural treat hosted by international cabaret star and opera-lover Reuben Kaye.
Opera Up Late runs February 18th – 23rd, 2023 at the Sydney Opera House.
Above and beyond the Disney-tunes (see Musicals above), the Sydney Symphony Orchestra is bringing First Nations and Torres Strait LGBTQIA+ artistry to the iconic sails of the Opera House for a two-hour concert hosted by Steven “Faboriginal” Oliver. From traditional song, to comedy, pop and ballroom, it’s going to be “very Australian, very Blak, and totally Deadly!”
Blak & Deadly: The First Nations Gala Concert is on March 2nd, 2023 at the Sydney Opera House.
Hard to believe, but Peaches’ seminal album, The Teaches of Peaches turns 23 in 2023, and the iconic feminist, musician, producer, director, and performance artist is in town to celebrate. Peaches is performing the album in full and converting the City Recital Hall into her own proud playground.
Peaches: The Teaches of Peaches is on March 4th, 2023 at City Recital Hall.
Singer-songerwriter Angel Olsen has been on a journey. From her debut as a lo-fi, alt-country rocker to coming out and releasing her latest album Big Time. Now she’s back in Australia and performing for one night only. Pushing the boundaries of genres, her music has reached its most personal space yet.
Angel Olsen performs on 6 Mar, 2023 at the Sydney Opera House.
If Kylie Minogue appearing at the launch party, and Nicole Scherzinger performing at the Bondi Beach Party aren’t enough for you, then you’re in luck! Carly Rae Jepsen is in town as well, doing her own gigs at the Enmore Theatre and guaranteed to be queerer than half the parties in town.
Carly Rae Jepsen: The So Nice Tour is on 7 – 8 Mar, 2023 at Enmore Theatre.
And, wouldn’t you know it, Harry Styles is in town with his Love On Tour show, which is an absolute banger!
Harry Styles: Love on Tour is on March 3rd – 4th, 2023 at Accor Stadium.
CABARET & COMEDY:
It’s time for the glorious return of Australia’s beloved boylesque cabaret troupe, Briefs, with the Sydney Premiere of their show, Briefs: Dirty Laundry! Fez Faanana (aka Shivanana), leads a line-up of classic Briefs boys and some fresh newbies for their endlessly entertaining mix of cabaret, comedy, dance, and feats of showpersonship.
Briefs: Dirty Laundry! runs from February 28th – 4 March 4th, 2023 at Seymour Centre.
If you’re after a laugh, then kick off WorldPride right with All Out Comedy. Hosted by Coco Jumbo, you’ll get sets from queer comedians Geraldine Hickey and Nath Valvo and a whole lot more. Guaranteed to set the tone for your whole World Pride experience.
All Out Comedy is on February 18th, 2023 at Seymour Centre.
Mardi Gras’ annual comedy show, Laugh Out Proud returns to the Enmore Theatre, serving up a merry-go-round of the crème de la crèmef rom the queer comedy scene.
Laugh Out Proud is on March 3rd, 2023 at the Enmore Theatre.
For more cabaret kicks, don’t miss Gender Euphoria: Mighty Real, an all-trans cabaret night at Darlinghurst Theatre Company. We’re promised a “joyous, binary-exploding celebration” that will “make your heart sing. Goodbye gender dysphoria, hello gender euphoria.”
Gender Euphoria: Mighty Real is on March 1st – 5th, 2023 at Darlinghurst Theatre Company.
TALKS & DISCUSSIONS:
Tiktok sensation Rainbow History Class is holding court at Darlinghurst Theatre Company with a live show. Teacher Rudy Jean Rigg and writer/researcher Hannah McElhinney bring their social media styling to life IRL for an evening of celebratory storytelling and big, queer history.
Rainbow History: Live Show is on March 2nd – 4th, 2023 at Darlinghurst Theatre Company.
EnQueer (the Queer Writer’s Festival) is hosting two talks in conjunction with World Pride. The Queer is Not for Sale is an exploration of the ethics of queer memoir in a capitalist literary culture and the dilemma many queer writers face in deciding how much of themselves, and in particular their trauma or distress, they are willing to reveal. <skull emoji> is an exploration of the nihilistic sensibilities of Gen Z on queer young adult writing. Bringing together a diverse panel of young adult writers to discuss the milieu of the queer Gen Z, they will explore how Gen Z faces their generational challenges – the omnipresence of the online world, the existential threat of climate change, and increased acceptance and visibility of the queer spectrum.
Sydney Opera House will host a double-bill of queerlit panels: Mixed Metaphors brings togethers poets, musicians, and authors to discuss the use of poetry and metaphor to express the ineffable nature of queer life. While On Queer East Asian Pride brings together Australia and South East Asia’s leading queer writers (Jason Om, Shawna Tang and Hendri Yulius Wijaya) to discuss the joys and nuances of queer East Asian identities both in Asia and the diaspora.
SOH Queer Lit Double Bill: Mixed Metaphors and On Queer East Asian Pride is on Feb 23, 2023 at the Sydney Opera House.
Maeve Marden’s renowned QueerStories is holding a special World Pride edition where each guest is asked to share the story they want to tell, but are never asked to. Previous QueerStories have been filled with unexpected tales of pride, prejudice, resilience and resistance – a really excellent evening of community and discussion.
Australian multidisciplinary artist Paul Yore is turning Carriageworks into a giant, immersive, queer alternative reality with WORD MADE FLESH. This architecturally-scaled installation, composed of improvised makeshift structures, mixed media sculpture, collage and assemblage, painting, video, and pulsating sound and light, imagines a queer world rising from the debased spectacle of hyper-capitalist society… it’s also totally instagrammable!
Paul Yore: WORD MADE FLESH is free to view from January 5th – 26 February 26th at Carriageworks.
Sydney’s Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, the Powerhouse Museum, presents Absolutely Queer: a series of new commissions from the city’s leading queer artists comprising of costume, design, art, fashion and multimedia. This longterm exhibition consists of everything “from installation and performance artists to video game designers, cartoonists, and fashion designers. These creatives form a diverse snapshot of LGBTQIA+ creativity and activism in Sydney. Accompanying the exhibition will be public program of performance, music, and workshops.
Absolutely Queer is free to view from February 17th – December 1st, 2023 at Powerhouse Ultimo.
Experience the history of LGBTQIA+ nightlife with the photographic exhibition, The Party. See the evolution of the modern dance party across the decades from private house parties to Gay Liberation fundraisers, the influential Recreational Arts Team (RAT) parties, Mardi Gras, Sleaze Ball, Sweatbox, Inquisition, Homo Eclectus and Sex and Sub Culture.
The Party is free to view from January 14th – April 23rd at the UNSW Galleries.
The UNESCO World Heritage-listed Hyde Park Barracks will be illuminated with projections for Queer in Warrane. The exhibition will include the world premiere of Dylan Mooney’s light artwork, Still here and thriving. Jacqui North will bring to life the tale of Oscar Wilde, Lord Douglas and his mysterious lover with Love that Dares and invites audiences to experience a rainbow light ‘waterfall’ with Shine. The Hyde Park Barracks will be free to enter all day, with talks and queer-focused tours available. The projections will begin from 7:30pm.
Queer in Warrane is free to view from February 22nd – 26th at Hyde Park Barracks.
BOYS! BOYS! BOYS! magazine launches its fifth issue and celebrates WorldPride with an exhibition of works by 62 queer and gay photographers at Working Dog Gallery, St Leonards from February 23rd – March 11th. Opening night will be attended by BOYS! BOYS! BOYS! editor Ghislain Pascal and photographers Paul McDonald and Charles Collins. For more details head to www.boysboysboys.org
Want to explore the world of ballroom in a more active way? The Kiki House of Silky is running a series of workshops, featuring international icons and legends from the House of West, for those aged 12-18 in the run up to the Youth Ball. Topics range from the history of ballroom and vogueing, to the secrets of those transforming ball lewks. It’s free, but spots must be reserved in advance.
Youth Ball and Vogue Workshops are on March 3rd, 2023 at Petersham Town Hall.
If you need some help with your World Pride outfit, get yourself down to the Sydney Opera House’s Centre for Creativity. Sustainable fashion designers Sally Jackson and Gary Bigeni will facilitate a weekend of workshops for adults to create unique, custom-made costumes for Mardi Gras.
Costume Pardi Mardi Gras runs from February 18th – 19th, 2023 at the Sydney Opera House.
Compiled by Chad Armstrong
For a comprehensive list of WorldPride events head to the official Sydney WorldPride website.