From a surreal circus-style spectacle at the Playhouse to an ode like no other to the legendary John Lennon, Canberra’s culture vultures will be out in force this week with an eclectic array of entertainment on offer.
In between, a month-long series of immersive half-day art tours from the award-winning Australian Dance Party will debut and there will be musical comedies, exhibition openings and creative workshops.
The only trick will be narrowing it down – but we’ve done the groundwork. Here are our nine top picks.
DOWNTOWN: The Mod Musical
When: Friday 24 February to Sunday 5 March, Wednesdays to Sundays, 8 pm to 10 pm
Where: Belconnen Community Theatre, 23 Swanson Court, Belconnen
Cost: Adult $49, concession $39, groups of six $234; book here.
This revue musical celebrates the strong female singers of the mod era, focusing on the stories of five very different women. Through letters they send to a teen magazine, their coming-of-age stories unfurl against the backdrop of the swinging 60s. Expect a non-stop journey through the infectious and soulful pop anthems and ballads that turned the likes of Petula Clark, Dusty Springfield and Lulu into household names.
When: Friday, 24 February, 5 pm; Saturday, 25 February and Sunday, 26 February, 2 pm and 5 pm
Where: Canberra Playhouse, Civic Square, London Cct, Canberra
Cost: $59 plus transaction fee, book here.
With stunning imagery and gales of laughter, Air Play is billed as part comedy, part kinetic sculpture, part circus and part theatre. Years of experimentation with simple materials, movement and technology have yielded a circus-style adventure of two siblings journeying through a surreal land of air that transforms ordinary things into objects of extraordinary beauty.
When: Saturdays from 25 February to 25 March, 10:30 am to 3 pm
Where: Departing from Lawson Crescent Viewing Deck, National Museum of Australia, Lawson Cres, Acton
Cost: Adults $209, concession $201.30, book here.
Australian Dance Party’s immersive series of half-day art tours return to Lake Burley Griffin on Saturday. Audiences will jump aboard lake cruises and wander amidst familiar sites – reimagined – feeling, seeing and listening to the work of national, international and local artists. Live music and dance will lure you to iconic monuments and you’ll indulge in local food and wine from Water’s Edge restaurant.
The John Lennon Songbook
When: Saturday 25 February, 8 pm
Where: Street 1, The Street Theatre, 15 Childers St, City West
Cost: $85; book here.
John Waters and Stewart D’Arrietta are back with the fabulous Liverpool Band, bringing you the latest instalment of their hugely successful interpretation of John Lennon’s music. Billed as “Lennon like you have never heard before”, the voice of many generations is reanimated in this intimate take on his classic hits.
Workshop – Minna Gilligan: Collage and colour
When: Saturday, 25 February, 10:30 am to 12 pm
Where: National Portrait Gallery, King Edward Terrace, Parkes
Cost: $20 for adults, $15 for Circle of Friends, and $10 under 18; book here.
Ready to up your collage game? Join artist Minna Gilligan for a creative workshop exploring the storytelling powers of colour and collage. Hear about Minna’s practice before creating your own narrative portrait focusing on composition, mood and identity.
AMPLIFY Tributes at the Arboretum
When: Saturday 25 February, 5 pm
Where: Amphitheatre, National Arboretum Canberra, Forest Dr, Molonglo Valley
Cost: General $90, concession $75, family of four $230 (2A, 2C), VIP $190, book here.
Claim your spot at the National Arboretum amphitheatre and get ready to farewell summer. Sunset and then a blanket of stars play backdrop to this incredible show, bringing together three of Australia’s finest tribute bands. Bring a picnic blanket, purchase from a range of food and beverage options available on the night and take in musical tributes to Neil Diamond (backed by a nine-piece band), Elton out of the Closet (backed by a live band) and BABBA (the world’s most exciting ABBA tribute band).
See What I See exhibition opening
When: Wednesday, 1 March to Sunday, 2 April, daily from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm
Where: Visitor Centre Gallery, Australian National Botanic Gardens, Clunies Ross Street, Acton
The Visitor Centre Gallery’s latest exhibition will launch on 1 March, revealing Australiana through the eyes of NatureArt Lab’s renowned team of tutors. Expect diverse creative responses to nature, including nature journaling, watercolour, drawing, scratchboard, polymer clay, scientific illustrations, botanical and wildlife art, wildlife photography and macrophotography. Some of the original artworks in this event will be available for purchase and a series of art demonstrations will occur throughout the exhibition.
X Rainbow Takeover Party (official exhibition opening event)
When: Thursday 2 March, 6 pm to 8 pm
Where: Craft ACT: Craft + Design Centre, 180 London Circuit, Canberra
Cost: Free; book here.
The official opening of the x Rainbow Takeover exhibition will include a queer networking evening to celebrate our queer artists, the entire LGBTQIA+ community and allies. Described as a “saucy soiree to meet the artists, hang out with like-minded queer community members and allies”, audiences can listen to the tunes of DJ Sweet Hard while they take in incredible artworks from queer artists and makers from across the nation.
Sparrow-Folk – Nice Pair!
When: 2 and 3 March, 7 pm
Where: Canberra Theatre Centre, Civic Square, London Cct, Canberra
Cost: $29 plus transaction fee, book here.
Following an extended lockdown, award-winning musical comedy duo Sparrow-Folk hit Canberra with a preview event like no other. A chance to see their brand new show as it hatches, get set for belly laughs as the talented pair test out new naughty tunes and jokes to delight the Nation’s Capital.