Book & Lyrics: Hilary Bell
Music: Greta Gertler Gold
Director: Liesel Badorrek
Production Designer: Isla Shaw and Antonia Pesenti
Lighting Designer: Benjamin Brockman
Video Designer: Mic Gruchy
Creative Play: Antonia Pesenti
Puppetry Director: Alice Osborne
Puppetry Designer: Isla Shaw and Antonia Pesenti
Musical Director: Maria Alfonsine
Puppets produced by: Erth Physical and Visual Inc
Alphabetical Sydney created by Antonia Pesenti and Hilary Bell
Music produced by Greta Gertler Gold and Adam Gold
Keyboards: Barney McAll
Costume Supervisor: Rebecca Jones
Wigs: Martelle Hunt
NANNA – Deborah Galanos
IBIS – Nat Jobe
ENSEMBLE – Maria Alfonsine and Rebecca Rolle
UNDERSTUDY – Gabriel Fancourt
Inspired by Hilary Bell and Antonia Pesenti’s best-selling picture book, this immersive musical will take audiences of all ages on a journey around the world’s most famous harbour city.
Our guides, the chaotic Ibis and order-loving Nanna take us on a whirlwind adventure. Climb aboard the tour bus to discover their Sydney, one letter at a time.
Combining puppetry, theatre, songs and creative play with irresistible music by Greta Gertler Gold, Alphabetical Sydney: All Aboard! is a celebration of all that makes a city unique.
Available to Tour
Theatre for Young People, Music, Comedy
1 hour, no interval
Theatre, Civic/Cultural Centre, Black Box, Town Hall
What They’re Saying
“Alphabetical Sydney: All Aboard is a truly immersive theatre experience for the whole family and the children in the audience were enthralled by the twists and turns of the story and really enjoyed the interactive parts.”
“a superb mix of puppetry, theatre, songs and creative play. My littles were laughing from the start and loved every opportunity to interact with the actors on stage.”
Three Little Hines
“The incredible humour, dance, singing, stagecraft, digital visuals had the audience jumping from their seats… the joy of celebrating our kids is glorious. The musical ‘Alphabetical Sydney’ is BRILLIANT”
Susanne Garvey – Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators and CBCA NSW
If you loved the book, you’re going to adore this world premiere production. This new experience for families will bring to life Hilary Bell’s words and Antonia Pesenti’s beloved artworks. Just like the book, Alphabetical Sydney: All Aboard! will appeal to all ages ranging from pre-school to adult.
There will be the opportunity to connect with local library networks, bookstores, reading and play groups, theatre and writers’ festivals, kids’ podcasts and radio. The book’s popularity with teachers (part of the Premier’s Reading Challenge) provides the potential for school performances or excursions.
Keep an eye out for our foyer activations and merchandise – signed books will be available for sale in the foyer too!
Look and Feel
Alternating between dialogue and songs, audience participation, creative play and making, the performance will mix projections with low-tech stage design, handmade props, and puppets. Performers will lead the journey and experience, with live music and song.
Creative play is an integral part of this unique theatrical experience. Kids work with the actors to grow the park together, drawing trees and flowers which are mixed with projections to create a magical, wild landscape. Later, simple shadow puppets created pre-show in the foyer are mixed with more elaborate large-scale puppet creatures, projections and soundscapes to conjure up a dreamlike version of Taronga Zoo at night.
Nine original songs have been written by Hilary Bell and composer/musical director Greta Gertler Gold. These songs explore different aspects and moods of the city. For example: FEED ME, introducing Ibis, is a wild grunge-metal rant delighting in all that’s disgusting and disordered. This contrasts with THE MAGIC HOUR, a tranquil, almost melancholy paean to the transient moment between dusk and dark, evoking warm sandstone, the sparkle of the harbour, the smell of jasmine, the lonely hoot of a mopoke.
Since its publication, the picture-book Alphabetical Sydney by Antonia Pesenti and Hilary Bell has become an instant classic, having sold over 34,000 copies to date. It has inspired Instagram scavenger hunts, literacy units in classrooms, Book Week costumes and has twice been a prime minister’s ‘holiday reading pick’. It also was the subject of an exhibition – Alphabetical Sydney: Creative Lab, a collaborative project with the Museum of Sydney.
Encouraged by this response, and recognising the need it fulfils for quality local literature/art, we were keen to further explore its potential. Hilary is a playwright with a career spanning 30+ years, so it is a natural step to re-conceive the book in theatrical terms.
Antonia’s background in architecture and illustration will allow Alphabetical Sydney’s distinctive collaged illustrations to be re-imagined in the form of projections, stage design and puppetry.
‘This instant classic should be on the bookshelf of every Sydney child.’ – Delia Falconer, SMH
Original development supported by Create NSW, the City of Sydney and Riverside Theatres Parramatta.