Never heard of Nellie Small? Honestly, neither had we until we learned that playwright Alana Valentine would be celebrating Nellie’s life in a new show premiering in next month’s Sydney Festival.

The cover of Limelight's December 2023 magazine

One of Sydney’s best-known entertainers for three decades, the cross-dressing, jazz-singing raconteur Nellie Small was a trailblazing star in the 1930s, 40s and 50s and in Send for Nellie, Valentine is about to put this showbiz legend back into the spotlight. In our cover feature this month, she talks to Elissa Blake about a story that wouldn’t let her go until it was told.

A rather better-known name is also celebrated this month, that of Galileo. Already made into a classic film, namechecked in Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody and commemorated in LEGO, the life of the great polymath is about to be explored once more in a new Australian opera. Limelight Editor-at-Large Clive Paget speaks to composer Richard Mills about what will be his farewell to the Victorian Opera after a decade at its helm.

Also this month, arts journalist Deborah Jones talks to musical theatre star Lucy Maunder about playing one of her long-awaited dream roles (that of killer-turned-vaudevillian Roxie Hart in the musical Chicago), and in a deeply reflected interview, choreographer Stephen Page talks to Jane Albert about the first work he’s made since leaving Bangarra Dance Theatre, the company he led for over 30 years.

In our regular Cutting Edge column, Yuwaalaraay composer and storyteller Nardi Simpson reflects on her recent tour of Europe with Ensemble Offspring, Anna-Louise Cole talks about preparing for her second Ring Cycle with Opera Australia in which she makes her role debut as Brünnhilde, and the friends she’s made along the way, while Victoria Falconer, joint Artistic Director of Hayes Theatre Co, discusses her journey from electronic organ to musical saw in this month’s My Music column.

Composer Holly Harrison explains how extreme sports and classical music become one in her latest work for Omega Ensemble, and, by way of a pre-Christmas treat, Limelight Editor Jo Litson chats to Ensemble Theatre’s Mark Kilmurry and actor-writer Jamie Oxenbould about the making of their hilarious theatrical spoof Midnight Murder at Hamlington Hall.

We also have the latest in CD reviews, up-to-date information on everything you can see and hear in the nation’s concert halls and auditoriums, a new Soapbox from Guy Noble and – drum roll – we reveal the winners of our 2023 Limelight Artist of the Year, as voted by our readers and reviewers. Who made our hearts sing? Who dazzled us with their virtuosity? Who enlightened us with fresh approaches to classic works or wowed us with world premieres? Sit down with your Limelight magazine all will be revealed!

Subscribe to Limelight by Monday 13 November, 9am AEDT to receive the print edition as soon as it’s available. Plus, you could win one of five copies of VOCES8’s new album, A Choral Christmas. Learn more.

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