The Rabbits

Miller-Heidke, Katz & Grandage

The Rabbits

Roslyn Packer Theatre (22 Hickson Road, Walsh Bay)

John Marsden and Shaun Tan's haunting picture book captivated a generation of children and adults, with its bold pictures and deeply moving story of progress, displacement and culture clash. It is a story that speaks to the world.

Opera Australia and Barking Gecko Theatre Company assembled some of Australia's foremost creative talents to adapt this story into a new opera for children and families. The result is "a triumphant adaptation of a deeply tragic story", wrote The Guardian

Gabriela Tylesova's sets and costumes realise Tan's pictures in all of their mystical wonder, while Lally Katz transforms Marsden's spare poetry into an enchanting libretto. Butterfly-voiced opera and pop singer Kate Miller-Heidke wrote the "simply beautiful" score (The Guardian) and performs in the production alongside a talented cast of opera singers and contemporary music performers.

The Rabbits won four Helpmann Awards, including Best New Australian Work, Best Original Score, Best Costume Design, and Best Presentation for Children.


The rabbits came many grandparents ago. They built houses, made roads, had children. They cut down trees. A whole continent of rabbits...


Composer Kate Miller-Heidke
Librettist Lally Katz
Adaptor & Director John Sheedy
Musical Supervisor,
Musical Arrangements &
Additional Music
Iain Grandage
Designer Gabriela Tylesova
Musical Director Isaac Hayward
Lighting Designer Trent Suidgeest
Sound Designer Michael Waters
Indigenous Consultant Rachael Maza
Original Book by John Marsden
Illustrated by Shaun Tan
Bird (Narrator) Kate Miller-Heidke
Coda Hollie Andrew
Flinch Jessica Hitchcock
Roxie Lisa Maza
2 Stripe Marcus Corowa
3 Stripe David Leha
A Scientist Kanen Breen
A Society Rabbit Nicholas Jones
A Convict Christopher Hillier
A Lieutenant Simon Meadows
The Captain Robert Mitchell
Violin Stephanie Zarka
Guitar & Electronics Keir Nuttall
Trumpet Callum G'Froerer
Bass & Tuba Andrew Johnson

The Rabbits is suitable for ages 8+ 

Running time: approximately 60 minutes, without interval.

Presented by Opera Australia in association with Sydney Festival.

An Opera Australia and Barking Gecko Theatre Company co-production.

In association with West Australian Opera. Co-commissioned by Perth International Arts Festival and Melbourne Festival.

This project is assisted by the Australian Government’s Major Festivals Initiative, in association with the Confederation of Australian International Arts Festivals, Perth International Arts Festival, Melbourne Festival, Sydney Festival and the Western Australian Government through the Department of Culture and the Arts.

The book was first published in Australia by Lothian Books. The opera is produced by arrangement with Hachette Australia Pty Ltd.


Getting there

Roslyn Packer Theatre is located at 22 Hickson Road, Walsh Bay.

Public ferry, train and bus services operate to and from The Rocks and Circular Quay. Roslyn Packer Theatre is then a 15-20 minute walk from Circular Quay and Wynyard.

The 311, 324 and 325 bus services stop on Hickson Road near the theatre. Visit the Transport Infoline website to plan your trip.

Taxis can drop you off at the theatre, and after the performance can be hailed on Hickson Road.

Where can I park?

The nearest car park is at Interpark Bond Store One, 26 Hickson Road (next door to the theatre). Alternative car parks are Towns Place Wilson Car Park (entry via Hickson Road) or Barangaroo Reserve Car Park (entry via Towns Place).

There is also metered street parking on Hickson Road (maximum 4 hours).

If you are driving, please check the road closures in the Sydney CBD affecting George Street and Hickson Road. The My Sydney website can help you plan your trip.

Make sure you arrive at least half an hour prior to the performance starting time as it can take more than 10 minutes to park, get to the theatre, and be seated in time.

Pre-theatre dining

Walsh Bay Kitchen (inside the Roslyn Packer Theatre) is serving a range of pre-theatre menus to ensure that you get to your show on time:

  • $47 for 2 courses and a glass of wine (seated 1 hour prior to show start time)
  • $57 for 3 courses and a glass of wine (seated 1½ hours prior to show start time)
  • $15 kids meal before each performance of The Rabbits. Choose from either chicken nuggets with curly fries or Spaghetti Napolitana with a green salad, vanilla ice-cream and a juice.

See the menus and make a reservation.


The Rabbits started life as a picture book by author John Marsden and illustrator Shaun Tan.

You can buy the book at gleebooks, Roslyn Packer Theatre, from two hours prior to the performance.

We are also selling $20 souvenir programs in the foyers of the theatre. These can be a valuable way to better understand the show, featuring lots of beautiful production photos, and make a wonderful keepsake of your evening.


Roslyn Packer Theatre offers a number of services to improve access for its audience.  For further information, visit or call their Box Office on (02) 9250 1999.

Download the Learning Resource pack for The Rabbits (pdf)

Designed for educators, this pack contains classroom activities to help primary and early secondary students understand the themes addressd in The Rabbits.

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