Loyal Arts Centre members packed the Paradise Room last month for mid-week drinks and a preview of the 2016 theatre season. The 2016 theme ‘Emerge’ represents not only the growing variety and amount of cultural offerings placing the Gold Coast on the artistic map, but also the commencement of construction for the new cultural precinct. In the words of Performing Arts Manager Brad Rush, “In 2016 we want you to be awakened, uplifted and challenged; we want you to emerge from the theatre with new views, new tastes and new perspectives.”

The diversity and quality of the 2016 programme ensures that the Arts Centre remains relevant to all Gold Coasters as well as contributing artistically to a city that is rapidly growing up. On offer are a range of dance, theatre, opera, symphony, cabaret and comedy performances.

The Arts Centre will also be producing its own musical production of Mary Poppins in June following the success of its productions Miss Saigon (2015), and Jesus Christ Superstar (2014). Brad Rush has promised “The Arts Centre will continue to produce highly professional, well produced and large scale musicals.” Most productions will, however, come from Brisbane, interstate or overseas.

For the uninitiated, the Arts Centre has two live theatrical performance venues: the Arts Theatre or Mainstage, and the smaller, more intimate The Space. The size is no reflection of the quality of productions. There are too many excellent productions to mention here, so I have chosen to mention a few of my top picks:

Samuel Becket’s Waiting for Godot will be performed by Gold Coast based Mercury’s Wings Theatre Company in The Space in July, and a fascinating new work by Gold Coast based Shock Therapy Productions, Viral, will be performed in The Space in September. Viral explores the role of social media in how we view discrimination and abuse, and has been developed with community consultation.

Il Ritorno (Arts Theatre, August 2016) is the brilliant circus theatre created by Brisbane based company Circa. Based on the story of Ulysses returning home to his wife Penelope after 20 years, Il Ritorno is a fusion of circus and Montiverdi’s baroque opera.

Bell Shakespeare Theatre Company, last here for Comedy of Errors (2013) will return in October 2016 to perform Othello. “Don’t be afraid of your childhood experiences of Shakespeare” says Brad Rush. “This is a new production and it will shed new light on this astonishing, epic tale.”

Rossini’s 200 year old opera The Barber of Seville performed by Opera Queensland (Arts Theatre, July 2016) is bound to be popular, but my musical appetite is more likely to be whetted by Black Arm Band’s Dirtsong (Arts Theatre, September 2016). This is storytelling through music about indigenous people, language and land. According to Brad Rush “this is a stunning fusion of traditional and jazz styles.”

Queensland Symphony Orchestra is a staple at the Arts Centre. Next year they play Stravinsky’s The Firebird, as well as orchestral pieces from Haydn and Prokofiev (Arts Theatre, October 2016).

There will be two main dance performances on offer on 2016; the Sydney Dance Company’s Countermove, and Asanti Dance Theatre’s Sankofa. It’s impossible to chose a favourite between the two. Sankofa is an energetic celebration of African culture & is a collaboration between the Australian dance company and it’s sister company in Ghana. Countermove features the brilliantly funny parody of modern art Cacti, and the darker piece Lux Tenebris.

Some of the theatre performances will also be available during the day. My pick for a cheaper daytime ticket would be Always……Patsy Cline (Arts Theatre, July 2016). This is the story of Patsy Cline’s friendship with a fan from 1961 to 1962, and includes 27 of her famous hits, including Crazy and Walking After Midnight, all sung by Australian country music singer, Courtney Conway.

The Family and Children’s series won’t disappoint either, with The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show (Arts Theatre, May 2016), and May Gibb’s Snugglepot and Cuddlepie (Arts Theatre, July 2016) appealing to young audiences. My pick for older kids is The Peasant Prince (Arts Theatre, July 2016) based on Li Cunxin’s book Mao’s Last Dancer. The autobiography was, in fact, first published as a children’s picture book.

Finally, the Melbourne International Comedy Festival Roadshow will be back in May 2016 (Arts Theatre). This will be the best comedy to catch on the Gold Coast all year.

To purchase a season package visit Single tickets are on sale from 4 January.

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