Simon began his career in New Zealand before emigrating to Australia in 1984 to take up a position as lecturer and director at the West Australian Academy for Performing Arts. In 1987 he joined Melbourne Theatre Company as Associate Director and in 1990 he was appointed Artistic Director of the State Theatre Company of South Australia. After freelancing nationally and internationally between 1994 and 1999, he returned to MTC as Artistic Director from 2000 to 2011.
His directing credits range from new works to contemporary and Shakespearean classics to musicals to opera. He has directed works by most of the great contemporary writers: Albee (A Delicate Balance), Beckett (Happy Days), Brecht (Arturo Ui), Churchill (Cloud Nine/Serious Money), Hare (The Blue Room), McDonagh (The Pillowman), Orton (What the Butler Saw/Entertaining Mr Sloane), Shepherd (Buried Child, A Lie of the Mind), and Stoppard (Arcadia, Rock’n’Roll). He has also directed the premieres of many new works by leading Australian writers, including David Williamson, Hannie Rayson and Stephen Sewell. Songs for Nobodies is his fourth collaboration with Joanna Murray-Smith.
Simon’s musical credits in Australia include Love Never Dies, Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (which also had seasons in New Zealand and Canada and is currently running on Broadway, in Milan and Sao Paulo in Brazil), The Twenty-Fifth Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Urinetown the Musical, Company, The Threepenny Opera, Cabaret, and High Society (in an adaptation by his wife, Carolyn Burns, which also toured regionally in the UK.) In New Zealand he directed Oliver!, Chicago, Jesus Christ Superstar and The Pirates of Penzance.
Among his many classical productions, The Tempest, Julius Caesar, A Comedy of Errors and The Importance of Being Earnest all toured nationally in Australia. Simon’s opera credits include: La Bohème, Falstaff, L’Elisir d’Amore and Lulu for Opera Australia, The Magic Flute and Don Giovanni for Opera New Zealand and A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Billy Budd for Hamburg State Opera.
His many awards include: Green Room Awards for Best Direction: Richard III (MTC 2010), Best Direction August: Osage County (MTC 2009) Best Musical: Priscilla (2008), Best Direction and Best Production of an Opera: Lulu (Opera Australia 2004), Best Direction: Proof (MTC 2002), Best Direction of a Musical: Company (MTC 2001) and Helpmann Awards for Best Direction Richard III (MTC 2010) Best Musical and Best Direction of a Musical The Twenty-Fifth Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (MTC 2006), Best Play and Best Direction of a Play for Inheritance (MTC 2004) and Best Visual or Physical Theatre Production and Best Presentation for Children Twinkle Twinkle Little Fish (Windmill Performing Arts 2003).