virginsDean Bryant and Mathew Frank’s Virgins was originally titled The Virgin Wars and was commissioned by the Next Wave Festival in Melbourne, following on from the success of Prodigal Son the previous year.

Matt and Dean eventually expanded this one act musical into a full evening that was nominated for a number of Green Room Awards before playing at NYMF 2006. You can find out information on that at Dean Bryant and Mathew Frank’s website,

Kris has been lucky enough to direct it twice. Most recently was in September 2010 with students from the Australian Institute of Music in Sydney, as part of a program focusing on Australian musicals. Before that, he directed the original production as part of Next Wave.





In a thrilling combination of circus and theatre, Anthony Costanzo and Peter Fitzpatrick’s Life’s A Circus is about contemporary love and timeless betrayal. It is about truth, dangerous decisions and points of no return. Kris directed the presentation of Life’s a Circus in November 2008 as part of the OzMade Musicals series for Magnormos Musical Theatre, and then directed the mainstage production in 2009 at Theatreworks.

Life’s A Circus tells a story about three performers in a touring circus show caught in a web of love, lies and deceit, but this is much more than your conventional love-triangle. It is about how love, and the need to find it, can enrich our lives but also, in a single moment, can drive us to depths of despair we never thought possible. It is a story about points of decision in individual lives, and points of no return in relationships.



“Compact, super-charged and tightly-packaged direction … the privilege of being present at this rare and special performance of a piece that, with more work and development, should shed its skin to become a serious contender for that constantly elusive creation: The Australian Musical.” Stage Whispers

“From its A-List musical theatre cast (Chelsea Plumley, Glenn Hogstrom and Cameron McDonald) to the elements and mystery of circus, all is performed flawlessly.” ArtsHub




JOURNEYGThe Journey Girl was first presented to Kris while he was working at the Jacobsen Group, and while it was clearly not going to happen there, he decided it was going to be the first thing staged by the production company he was founding in Melbourne with Sam Schwarz.

The production featured Amanda Harrison, who Kris worked with again in 2010 in Wicked, where she plays the lead role of Elphaba.

The story is a relatively common one in Australia – a young girl goes backpacking overseas as a way to see the world. Of course, what was pretty uncommon was the opportunity to launch a new Australian musical. This coming of age story played for two months at the Atheneum, a lovely mid-sized house in central Melbourne.

Most recently, in 2012 Kris returned to direct this show again for the Tasmanian Theatre Company in Hobart, in a revival headed by Nicole Simms.  Rare that an Australian musical get more than one production, so this was a lovely opportunity.  Photos below.



“Last Saturday night a star was born … makes the audience want to break out in spontaneous applause … unflagging energy, warmth and audience rapport … The Journey Girl has got what’s needed to take off anywhere in the world.” DINA ROSS (April 12, 1999), The Age.

“… sassy tour-de-force … under the skilful direction of Kris Stewart, Amanda Harrison take absolute ownership of her role and has a lot of fun with it – and that sense of excitement suffuses the theatre all the way to the back rafters and never falters for an instant.” PETER KOHN (April 14, 1999) The Jewish News

“Prodigious talents involved in launching this one woman show … great performance, and backed throughout by a first-rate team.” PALZ VAUGHAN (April 12, 1999), The Herald Sun



INTERVIEWKris has worked on a number of other developmental projects across his career. This included spending eighteen months as executive director of the National Music Theatre Network, before launching NYMF.

Since 1984, NMTN has presented several hundred public concerts intended to promote new works, including The NMTN Annual Concert, the NMTN Songbook Series, The Broadway Dozen and the BroadwayUSA! program, which presents new musicals throughout the United States.

While at the National Music Theater Network, Kris was in charge of overseeing its new works program and two seasons of NMTN developmental productions, as well as its gala benefit, with the cast of Baz Luhrmann’s Broadway production of La Boheme.

Kris also spent a year as the consulting director for the Theatre for the American Musical, a NYC based foundation that funded writer support for creators of new music theatre, and there Kris headed their grant and commissioning program.

Through his career, Kris has commissioned the creation of a number of new musicals, including Common Grounds and Platforms (two new dance musicals), Wrong Number (a musical created through improvisation, in collaboration with the Upright Citizen’s Brigade Theater), the Guerilla Musicals Project (spontaneous musicals that would interrupt events across NYC), Web Site Story (a user generated musical, created through online collaboration) and Innovative Leisure (a musical on the rise and fall of Atari, in collaboration with the Ensemble Studio Theatre).  He has directed the workshops of The Jackyl and Carved in Air, and has overseen the development of a number of new works programs, including projects with the Victorian Art Centre and the City of Stonnington.

“The work that NMTN has done has been thrilling, surprising, and necessary. Its energy never flags. This terrific program continues to ignite the creativity of some of our best musical theater artists.” — John Lithgow, actor

“Tim Jerome, Kris Stewart and NMTN have engineered a totally unique program that has helped dozens of new works move from the page to the stage” — Brian Stokes Mitchell, actor


NMAKris Stewart is the founding director of New Musicals Australia, an initiative dedicated to the production of original music theatre in Australia. NMA aims to provide support for emerging musical theatre creators by presenting a number of workshopping opportunities to assist in the development of original work.

The program focuses on providing writers and composers with the opportunity to have their scripts and songs workshopped by professionals and presented to high level industry peers, creative industry leaders and general audience members. New Musicals Australia also supports a variety of other initiatives targeted at developing new works, establishing networks and providing support for independent writers.

Century Venues in collaboration with the Australia Council have founded this initiative and headhunted Kris to lead the organization, to help build the foundations of the shows that audiences will one day see on the Australian stages of tomorrow.

You can learn more about New Musicals Australia by visiting their website,

New Musicals Australia has three key workshop initiatives suitable for new musical theatre works in different stages of development.  They are –

The Musical Snapshot.  A 20-40 minute extract of the musical will be presented in concert alongside other new works.  A panel of industry professionals will offer immediate feedback on structural and creative strengths and weaknesses. This opportunity is open to three to six new works in early stages of development and enables creative teams to receive professional feedback and gauge a general audience response.

The Developmental Reading.  A new work will be rehearsed and performed in concert.  The process will include a five day rehearsal period that culminates in a presentation of the work on the sixth day.  There will be the opportunity for two developmental readings per year for musicals in an intermediate stage of development.

The Workshop Presentation.  A musical will be rehearsed and performed book-down with staging and limited production elements.  This initiative will include a ten day workshop with professional performers and the collaboration of a director, choreographer and musical director, and will be presented to an audience of industry leaders, music theatre creative professionals and the general public.


New Musicals Australia Launched to Foster Original Works

Panel announced to advise New Musicals Australia


TSL_PosterAs well as those shows that I have listed here on the site (and have photos of) there are dozens of other things that I have directed across my career, from the time before I did my post-graduate study at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts, through the five or six years after graduation that I worked as a director in Sydney and Melbourne, prior to relocating to NYC.


“…The Shrinking Ledge is impeccably presented and plenty of fun … Writer, director and cast seize upon the fun unleashed by the erosion of boundaries between reality and fiction. Kris Stewart’s direction is crisp and assured and is aided by excellent lead performances … ”  HELEN THOMSON (The Age), on The Shrinking Ledge.

“In The Shrinking Ledge, Nicholas Flanagan leaps into the wide blue yonder … This writers nightmare shatters the english
language and makes us look for – and find – glittering shards of meaning.  The Shrinking Ledge is bursting with puns that are grotesque and brilliant and unbelievably sick. Skilled direction by Kris Stewart keeps things consistently taut and punchy.” CHRIS BOYD (The Herald Sun) of The Shrinking Ledge.

“Those seeking entertainment with a tantalising mixture of intellectual stimulation and emotional gratification should not miss this production. The Dark Side’s Sondheim retrospective is an exhilarating demonstration of director Kris Stewart and the cast’s comprehensive understanding of this man’s work … Very, very impressive. I walked away from a night of musical theatre the type of which will hopefully be repeated soon by this company. Musicals like Me and My Girl are fine, but it is a real treat to experience something that makes you feel good and sets you thinking at the same time.” DAVID O’BRIEN (The Adelaide Advertiser) on No One Is Alone.

“The 12 talented actors are some of the strongest to step on to an Adelaide stage … Director Kris Stewart’s reputation is already high following his acclaimed, award-winning production of Merrily We Roll Along, and he has created another tremendous piece of musical theatre here. His work will be very much missed.” KRISSIE SCUDDS (Rip It Up Magazine) on No One Is Alone.

“ROLL UP, ROLL UP: IT’S A HIT! The S.A. Youth Theatre Company vividly brings to life Stephen Sondheim’s sophisticated and challenging Merrily We Roll Along. A teeming cast respond gratifyingly to the difficult task of realizing this superbly constructed, beautiful, witty and poignant show … But the real star does not appear on stage – Director Kris Stewart helms this astonishingly ambitious show, extracting extraordinary detail and credibility from his huge cast … uncompromising in his quest to realize this typically arresting and challenging show. This show deserves an audience. Merrily Roll Along!!” JAMES MULLIGHAN (The Sunday Mail) on Merrily We Roll Along.

“Any director of this show risks upsetting it’s delicate balance if staging isn’t undertaken with sufficient care. Mercifully, director Kris Stewart gets it right almost every time, making this production a little gem … The Fantasticks is an entertaining, thoughtfully directed, cunningly presented, musically satisfying treat.” PAT WILSON (The Advertiser) on The Fantasticks.



Written by two Australian twenty-somethings while still studying at WAAPA, Kris directed Dean Bryant and Mathew Frank’s Prodigal Son as part of the Midsumma Festival in Melbourne in 2000, where it played a successful season before returning for two sell-out runs. It was a really charming character study, a musical that spoke clearly in an Australian vernacular.

It won quite a few awards in Melbourne, and (renamed as Prodigal) went on to play at the York Theatre in NYC.


“… must-see … one of the hits of this year’s Midsumma Festival …” JOEL CROTTY (Jan 20, 2000), The Age.

“Prodigal Son is wonderful … received standing ovations … had the two people beside me sobbing into each other’s shoulders … you hurt your hands clapping …” ANDREW SHAW (Jan 25, 2000), The Melbourne Star Observer.

“impressive depth and clarity … the writing is sharp and well-observed and the production resonates long after the final bow.” DAVID CROFTS (Jan 21, 2000), The Melbourne Times


SPOOGESoon after arriving in New York and beginning his position as the Executive Director of the National Music Theater Network, Kris directed a showcase production of the play with music, Spooge.

Spooge is a uniquely American turn of phrase that a newly-arrived Australian director wouldn’t immediately recognise …

Produced by the Riant Theatre Company at the Pantheon Theatre, it was a fantastically fun piece of work by Joshua James, one of NY’s hottest young writers and was well-received (and well performed by the large cast).


New Musicals Australia – season two

Announcements have been made about the shows selected for New Musicals Australia second season of workshops.