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Melbourne Theatre Company Tops Off Epic 2016 Program With A Touch Of Tim Finn

7 September 2015 | 8:00 pm | Staff Writer

Melbourne can't get enough of Tim Finn

Melbourne Theatre Company
's 2016 season opens with the world premiere of a musical by
Carolyn Burns
, with music and lyrics by
Tim Finn
Ladies In Black

The season was described by Artistic Director Brett Sheehy AO as "excit[ing] our loyal, intrepid subscribers and also speak[ing] to new audiences about their lives in an arresting and compelling way", adding that there "is something on offer that will entertain, challenge and enlighten all our lives, and enable us to see the world in original and enriching ways".

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Ladies In Black, 16 January - 27 February, The Sumner, Southbank Theatre, will be directed by Simon Phillips, and features a cast including Jersey Boys' Bobby Fox. Based on The Women In Black by Madeleine St John, the play tackles growing up in 1950s Australia, making its way to Melbourne from Queensland Theatre Company.

Lungs (left) by British playwright Duncan Macmillan will have its Australian premiere, 5 February - 19 March, Fairfax Studio, Arts Centre, starring Kate Atkinson and Bert LaBonté, fresh from 2015's Birdland, and directed by Clare Watson. The play, set in Ikea, watches a couple debate the anxieties of parenthood.

MTC Associate Director Leticia Cáceres directs The Distance by Deborah Bruce, 3 March - 9 April, The Sumner, Southbank Theatre. The play follows just what happens when a woman obfuscates responsibility for her children - and the expectations placed on women in terms of parenthood.

Sydney Theatre Company Resident Director Kip Williams revives Miss Julie by August Strindberg in his MTC debut, casting Mark Leonard Winter in the role of Jean. The Sumner, Southbank Theatre, 16 April - 21 May.

Straight White Men by Young Jean Lee is helmed by Cáceres at Fairfax Studio, Arts Centre, 6 May - 18 June. The cast, including Steve Mouzakis and Luke Ryan, spend Christmas confronting their understanding of masculinity, and exactly what being privileged means.

James M Cain's crime novel Double Indemnity is adapted for the stage by Tom Holloway, and directed by MTC Associate Artistic Director Sam Strong, 20 May - 2 July, Playhouse, Arts Centre. Lachlan Woods features in the play about life insurance scams and dangerous love.

Twenty years after its Australian premiere, Colin Friels and Anna Samson play estranged lovers whose passion cannot override their clashing ideologies, in director Dean Bryant's take on Skylight by David Hare, 18 June - 23 July, The Sumner, Southbank Theatre.

Jasper Jones adapted by Kate Mulvany, directed by Strong, and based on the 2009 novel by Craig Silvey, premieres in Melbourne 1 August - 9 September, The Sumner, Southbank Theatre, wherein two teenagers attempt to solve a crime to save their skins.

Kat Stewart and Mitchell Butel star in new American work, and 2013 Pulitzer Prize winner Disgraced (above right) by Ayad Akhtar, at Fairfax Studio, Arts Centre, 19 August - 1 October. Nadia Tass directs this dinner party gone wrong, as a couple and their friends confront the racial and religious tensions and fear underlying their society.

After playing STC in 2014, Switzerland by Joanna Murray-Smith debuts in Melbourne at The Sumner, Southbank Theatre, 16 September - 29 October, featuring the original cast of Sarah Peirse and Eamon Farren under the direction of STC Resident Director Sarah Goodes. The play was inspired by reclusive crime novelist Patricia Highsmith.

Neil Simon's The Odd Couple (left) directed by Peter Houghton will star comedy duo Shaun Micallef and Francis Greenslade as a neat freak and a grumpy slob living under the same roof, and close MTC's mainstage season, 5 November - 17 December, The Sumner, Southbank Theatre.

Director Cáceres collaborates with writer Angela Betzien and Terrapin Puppet Theatre on family theatre work Egg, 29 June - 19 July, The Lawler, Southbank Theatre. MTC's Education production is Peddling by Harry Melling, which will then tour to regional Victoria and Tasmania.

The 2016 program also spells the rejuvenation of NEON Festival Of Independent Theatre, as NEON NEXT, with an aim to commission, develop and present independent works. Sisters Grimm (Ash Flanders and Declan Greene) present Lilith: The Jungle Girl (below), 1 September - 1 October, The Lawler, Southbank Theatre, while new work has been commissioned from Daniel Schlusser and Nicola Gunn. In addition, NEON NEXT will hold free professional development workshops and masterclasses for independent theatre practitioners.

For more information, or to purchase a subscription, head to Melbourne Theatre Company's website.