Down Under In The 19th Century

"There's a little group of isles beyond the wave - so tiny, you might almost wonder where it is"

Programme cover for a J.C. Williamson production of The Mikado. 1932

Both New Zealand and Australia are unique in that culturally these countries were not as remote as some 19th Century historians would have us believe.

Many touring companies made their way over here from various parts of Europe and Antipodians would often see new operas and operettas more quicker than they could see a new Andrew Lloyd Webber musical today.

Opera Houses and theatres were built and many great established singers toured this part of the world.

In one particular week in Melbourne in 1879 it was possible to see Aida, Lohengrin, Carmen, Maritana, Henry V, The Corsican Brothers and two different productions of H.M.S. Pinafore. A record hard to beat even today.

With thanks mainly due to James Cassius Williamson, musical theatre knew no boundaries in this part of the world.

What follows is the extradordinary history of musical theatre in this part of the world. The successes, hardships, embrassasments and heartbreaks are all told in detail. Reviews are quoted and pockets of news are liberally spread throughout these pages.

Although my main reason for this website is to concentrate on Gilbert and Sullivan we also manage to take an in depth look at Australian Theatre in general.

Come journey to one of the most productive periods of musical history in Australasia.

Part One:
THE BEGINNINGS
Part Two:
INSTANT SUCCESS
Part Three:
NON STOP HITS
Part Four:
THE PARTNERSHIP
Part Five:
BIG BOXOFFICE
Part Six:
REVIVALS AND MORE
Part Seven:
APPROACHING  A NEW CENTURY