Scene News: Victorian Opera Presents presents Kurt Weill, Bertolt Brecht and Elisabeth Hauptmann’s anti-capitalist musical comedy, ‘Happy End’


‘A musical that needs no recommendation other than itself. It charms, it giggles and it moves.’

New York Times

Roaring with charisma, wit and a killer cast, Victorian Opera presents Kurt Weill, Bertolt Brecht and Elisabeth Hauptmann’s anti-capitalist musical comedy, Happy End, from 23 – 26 March at Arts Centre Melbourne’s Playhouse.

Premiering a year after their landmark hit The Threepenny Opera, Happy End transports us to Chicago in 1911 and tells the unlikely love story of gangster Bill Cracker and Salvation Army Lieutenant Lillian Holiday. While exploring crime, salvation and uncommon alliances in free economies, Weill’s genius and captivating jazz style is on full display with the musical boasting some of his most iconic songs – ‘Surabaya Johnny’ and ‘The Bilbao Song’.

Following their triumphant collaboration on Tom Waits and William S. Burroughs’ The Black Rider: The Casting of the Magic Bullets (2017), this new production of Weill’s musical reunites director Matthew Lutton and musical director Phoebe Briggs. Set and costume designer Marg Horwell and lighting designer Paul Jackson also return to Victorian Opera following their acclaimed work on Green Room Award-winning Australian opera, Lorelei.


Musical theatre stalwarts Adam Murphy (Aladdin) and Lucy Maunder (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) star as Bill Cracker and Lillian Holiday respectively, co-starring again immediately following Melbourne Theatre Company’s season of Fun Home. Much-loved soprano Ali McGregor (A Little Night Music) returns to Victorian Opera as mob boss The Fly while musical theatre stars Kurt Kansley (Ragtime) and Euan Fistrovic Doidge (Fun Home) make their company debuts as The Governor and Sam Wurlitzer.


The principal cast is rounded out by Hamish Johnston, Ben Grant, Ras-Samuel Welda’abzgi, Jennifer Vuletic, Richard Pyros, Emily Burke and Olivia Cranwell. The ensemble features Benjamin Barker, Lachlan Bartlett, Alastair Cooper-Golec, Anne Gasko, Chiew-Jin Khut, Adam Lyon, Bridget Mylecharane, and Anna-Lee Robertson.


On Happy End, Victorian Opera’s Artistic Director Richard Mills notes: ‘Brecht, Weill and Hauptmann’s fable of the unlikely alliance of the dispossessed from the gangsters of Chicago and the Salvation Army speaks anew to our contemporary world. The gritty realities of hard times are leavened with sardonic wit and wonderful songs.’


Witness a rarely-staged gem of the 20th century in Victorian Opera’s striking new production of Happy End!


Arts Centre Melbourne, Playhouse

Runtime: 2 hours, plus one interval

5 Performances only!

23 March, 7:30 pm

24 March, 7:30 pm

25 March, 7:30 pm

26 March, 1:00 pm & 7:30 pm

Tickets from $39
Bookings via  



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