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Black Rider: The Casting of the Magic Bullets

The Coopers Malthouse, Merlyn Theatre
15 Sep 2017 - 8 Oct 2017

Cry-in-beer ballads meet a meditation on addiction in this cult classic that pulls the audience into the dark and decadent depths of the underworld – a delirious journey that is part opera, part vaudeville and all dance with the devil.

Tom Waits and William S. Burroughs’ cult musical fable has become one of the most iconic pieces of avant garde theatre since it premiered in 1990. Finding its roots in German folktale Der Freischütz (also the basis for Weber’s opera), the story follows a file clerk’s desperation to prove his worth by entering a Faustian pact. However, the Devil’s bargain is always a fool’s bargain. An allegory of addiction, the plot mirrors the tragic events of Burroughs’ own life.

A co-production between Victorian Opera and Malthouse Theatre, Black Rider stars an enviable line-up of Australia’s most cherished ‘enfants terribles’ Paul Capsis (The Threepenny Opera) alongside Meow Meow and Kanen Breen, who bookend our 2017 Season following ’Tis Pity in February. Matthew Lutton takes the helm as director with musical direction from Victorian Opera’s Head of Music, Phoebe Briggs.

Original Direction Robert Wilson
Music and Lyrics Tom Waits
Text William S. Burroughs
Original Music Arrangements Greg Cohen and Tom Waits
Dramaturgy Wolfgang Wiens

©2005 St. Rose Music Publishing Co., Inc. Used by Permission. 


The Coopers Malthouse, Merlyn Theatre

15, 16, 20, 21, 22, 23, 27, 28 , 29, 30 September 7:30pm 
18, 19, 26 September 6:30pm 
23 September 3:00pm 
1, 8 October 5:00pm 
3 October 6:30pm 
4, 5, 6, 7 October 7:30pm 
7 October 3:00pm

The running time is approximately 1 hour and 40 minutes with no interval.

Sung in English

Audio Described Performances and Tactile Tours

22 September, 7:30pm (Tactile Tour at 6:40pm) 
23 September, 3:00pm (Tactile Tour at 2:10pm)

Patrons’ Behind the Scenes 5 September

Patrons’ Pre-Show Drinks 19 September

Cast & Crew

Creative Team

Musical Direction Phoebe Briggs
Director Matthew Lutton
Set & Costume Design Zoë Atkinson
Lighting Design Paul Jackson
Musical Supervisor Iain Grandage
Soundscape Design Jethro Woodward
Sound Design Jim Atkins 


Wilhelm Kanen Breen
Pegleg Meow Meow 
Käthchen Dimity Shepherd 
Anne Jacqui Dark 
Bertram Richard Piper
Ensemble Paul Capsis 
Duke/Old Uncle Le Gateau Chocolat 
Robert Winston Hillyer


Victorian Opera Chamber Orchestra

Book Tickets

Single Ticket Prices

Price Type One Reserve
Adult $65 - 75
Senior $60 - 70
Concession $50 - 55
Group (8+) $45 - 49
VOyage* $35
School Group $22.50 - 24.50
Arts Access^ $30

Please note that all single ticket purchases attract a $3 Booking Fee.
All Subscription orders attract a $7.95 Subscription Processing Charge per transaction.

* Special price for 30 and under.
^ Must present proof of Arts Access membership at time of booking.


“★★★★½ Wonderfully cast and cunningly staged, this darkly humorous, musically eclectic fable disturbs and delights.”

“★★★★½ Have they done a deal with the Devil, the artists behind this production of Black Rider: The Casting of the Magic Bullets? If so, well, you wouldn't want to be in their shoes when the debt falls due, but the pay-off is a thrillingly dark carnival ride.”

“Victorian Opera is well known for making forays into the non-traditional and have developed a great following because of that. ”

A co-production with

Malthouse Theatre