Everybody’s favourite picture book is about to come to magical, musical life! 

Critical Stages Touring is proud to present the world premiere of Alphabetical Sydney: All Aboard! at Riverside Theatre Parramatta from Thursday 31st March to Friday 1St April.

Inspired by Hilary Bell and Antonia Pesenti’s best-selling picture book, Alphabetical Sydney (winner of Australian Book Designers Association’s 2014 Best Designed Children’s Illustrated Book; shortlisted for an Australian Industry Book Award), this all-new immersive musical experience will take audiences of all ages on a journey, from A to Z, around the world’s most famous harbour city.

We join the chaotic and care-free Ibis, and order-loving Nanna, as the venture across the city in an iconic Sydney Bus to collect Nanna’s missing letters, taking in the sights, sounds, and surprises that the city holds in store for them. Isla Shaw’s stage design places the bus centre stage, and audiences will love watching as it magically transforms into a harbour Ferry live on stage.

Critical Stages Touring CEO and Director Chris Bendall said “It has been such a thrill to collaborate with this exceptional team on bringing Hilary & Antonia’s much-loved book to life. The songs are wonderfully catchy, the design from costume to set to puppetry to projection is all just extraordinary. I can promise it’s going to be a huge amount of fun for everyone who comes. We can’t wait to see the response from delighted audiences at Riverside!”

Labelled as an “instant classic” by the Sydney Morning Herald, the book was hailed for its playful and vibrant illustrations that celebrated Sydney in all its diversity. In development since 2017, the stage production will be the ultimate realisation of Bell and Pesenti’s vision, and a wonderful extension of their commitment to engage young people in the magic of live theatre.

Hilary Bell says “Antonia and I began thinking about a theatrical adaptation of our book seven years ago, when we were approached by an experimental theatre company with an activist bent. Together we explored the book’s potential to engage children in making and owning theatre. After they moved on, we brought in composer Greta Gertler Gold and continued to develop ideas, themes, and space for creative play, while always keeping front-and-centre the aim of giving children a sense of empowerment and belonging”.

Combining puppetry crafted by Erth Physical and Visual, theatre, songs and creative play, with irresistible music by Greta Gertler Gold, Alphabetical Sydney: All Aboard! is a celebration of all that makes this city unique. Roaming freely around the city, the show highlights its features both mundane and wondrous, evoking a Sydney that is personal, somewhat nostalgic, and a far cry from the tourist-guide version.

Starring Nat Jobe (Disney’s The Lion King, Room on the Broom) as Ibis and Deborah Galanos (Home and Away, Neighbours, Belvoir St Theatre’s The Boomkak Panto) as Nanna, this stage adaptation of a classic Australian book is a must-see for kids 4+ and their families.

Images from rehearsals, March 2022, courtesy of Hilary Bell

Alphabetical Sydney: All Aboard!
When: Thursday 31 March at 12:30pm & Friday 1 April 2022 at 6:30pm
Where: Riverside Theatres – Corner of Church and Market St, Parramatta
Bookings: https://riversideparramatta.com.au/show/alphabetical-sydney-all-aboard/


Alphabetical Sydney: All Aboard! was developed with the support of the City of Sydney, the NSW government through Create NSW, Parramatta City and Riverside Theatres. This production is supported by the Australian Government through the RISE (Restart Investment to Sustain and Expand) fund, and the Australia Council for the Arts, it’s arts funding and advisory body.