'Bananaland' Is the New Musical Comedy From Kate Miller-Heidke That's Premiering at Brisbane Festival 2023

When it rolls around this September, the citywide arts festival will also debut 'Tae Tae in the Land of Yaaas!' at QPAC.
Sarah Ward
Published on May 30, 2023

Brisbane Festival's theatre lineup has been shining especially bright in recent years, after the world-premiere adaptation of Boy Swallow Universe played at the River City arts and culture festival in 2021, then fellow page-to-stage hit Fourteen did the same in 2022. Following them in 2023 are two new impressive homegrown shows — one a musical comedy from the songwriting team behind Muriel's Wedding The Musical, the other inspired by a true story.

The first: Bananaland, which has been created by Kate Miller-Heidke and Keir Nuttall after their success treading the boards with everyone's favourite Porpoise Spit resident. This time, they're focusing on 21-year-old Ruby, who has her own protest band called Kitty Litter, which accidentally becomes a hit with preschoolers.

Penned by Nuttall and featuring a score composed by Miller-Heidke, with the pair joining forces on the show's musical numbers, Bananaland promises a warmhearted but incisive exploration of chasing dreams — and an ode to performing live. It'll make its debut in QPAC's Playhouse from Saturday, September 16–Sunday October 1, charting Kitty Litter's path to following in The Wiggles' footsteps.

"It has been exhilarating creating a completely new Australian musical from the ground up. With renowned director Simon Phillips at the helm, we have assembled a dream team of the most talented actors, musicians and designers. To able to achieve this in our hometown of Brisbane has been particularly thrilling," said Miller-Heidke.

Jo Duck

Brisbane Festival's second big 2023 stage premiere comes courtesy of Tae Tae in the Land of Yaaas!, which draws upon Estee Lee's true tale and will kick off before the fest itself, taking over QPAC's Cremorne Theatre from Friday, August 25–Sunday, September 17.

Her sister Nelle Lee co-directs and also wrote the story, which focuses on the eponymous character who was paralysed in a car accident when she was six, struggles afterwards and later receives a much-needed boost from a fairy godmother (who'll be played by Maxi Shield from RuPaul's Drag Race Down Under).

"This project has been one of my most demanding undertakings to date, as it hits so close to home. My sister, Tae, has always been fabulous, and her uncanny ability to discover happiness in the unlikeliest of places has always left me in awe," said Nelle Lee.

"We are thrilled to share this story with the world, and to have it brought to life by an incredible cast. It's going to be honest and heartbreaking, but also camp, positive and uplifting."

Brisbane Festival won't unveil its complete lineup until July, but it's been busy drip-feeding early details recently. Back in March, the event announced that it would kick off with Riverfire for the second year in a row. And, also in May, it revealed plans to break the world record for a kazoo orchestra with mass-participation piece 10,000 Kazoos, then named Paul Kelly, Gretta Ray, Groove Terminator with the Soweto Gospel Choir and a tribute to rock's Laurel Canyon era on its music lineup.

Brisbane Festival 2023 runs from Friday, September 1–Saturday, September 23 at venues all around Brisbane, with Bananaland playing the QPAC Playhouse from Saturday, September 16–Sunday October 1, and Tae Tae in the Land of Yaaas! playing QPAC's Cremorne Theatre from Friday, August 25–Sunday, September 17. Tickets for both shows go on sale at 9am on Friday, June 2.

Brisbane Festival's full program will be released in early July — for more information in the interim, head to the fest's website.

Top image: Jo Duck.

Published on May 30, 2023 by Sarah Ward
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