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Message In A Bottle – Sydney Opera House (NSW)

Directed and Choreographed by Kate Prince, music and lyrics by Sting with ZooNation: A Kate Prince Company.

Reviewed by Chanele Mao

Sadler’s Wells & Universal Music UK Production

Joan Sutherland Theatre, Sydney Opera House

Season 25 October - 29 October 2023


- A unique dance offering, that is immense, unique and shows a dedication to the music of Sting. See it before it leaves our shores. -

Message In A Bottle is an exhilarating dance-theatre triumph about a refugee family leaving their homeland for a foreign land and facing immense struggle, suffering and hope set to the legendary music of Sting.

This hugely anticipated show opened to Sting’s hit ‘Desert Rose’, which set the tone for a mesmerising, somewhat mystical, and high-energy dance theatre with an incredible ensemble of dancers. The audience was transported to an imagined village where freedom, fun and love spread across the villagers and the community. The opening number and screen visuals were well matched to evoke the celebratory mood in the air with an Arabian Nights flavour.

‘I dream of rain.

I dream of gardens in the desert sand.

I wake in vain.

I dream of love as time runs through my hand’

– ‘Desert Rose’

Before long the villagers are displaced by civil war and one family (three stories) must now embark on a perilous journey from the previous comfortable and easy life to one where they do not know what lies ahead.

Message in a Bottle - Sydney Opera House. Images Credit: Daniel Boud

The visuals in the background on screens and accompanied sound effects were melded together to show the wild waves, streams of thunder and lightning whilst the family were lost at sea. The sky became dark, and the waves roared, it looked like all help was lost.

Upon arrival at the new land, the family is confronted by hooded bandits who shatter their unity, leading to their grim confinement in a detention camp, depicted skilfully through screen visuals, the presence of key guards, and the evocative lighting.

The music of Sting perfectly complemented the dance storytelling and carried the story forward. You could not help but move to the music whilst seated. The tunes were catchy and emotional. enticing piece of dance theatre, with a highly accomplished ensemble team. You will fall in love with Sting’s music all over again.

There was a variety of contemporary dance styles on show – street, funk, hip-hop, break dancing and more all feature in Bottle. The dancers displayed a sense of athleticism, flexibility and fluidity that enthralled the audience. The use of space on stage, the screen visuals and music allowed the story to come to life.

While the first half of Bottle was captivating and completely engrossing, the second half lost some of its narrative clarity, with multiple storylines causing confusion. Although it is a story about one family and three stories (as the three children each have their own story arc), it became unclear what was happening to who, how and why.

Despite the confusion, the dance numbers were still very entertaining and full of life. The second half also featured dances to ‘Roxanne’ and ‘Fields of Gold’, which were highlights of the show.

Bottle is an enticing piece of dance theatre, with a highly accomplished ensemble team. You will fall in love with Sting’s music all over again and become intoxicated by the lively dance troupe. If you’re looking for a unique dance offering, be sure to see it before it sails away from our shores.


Message In a Bottle runs for approximately 1 hour and 50 mins with a 20-minute interval.

CAST & CREATIVES Director & Choreographer Kate Prince

Music & Lyrics Sting

Music Supervisor & New Arrangements Alex Lacamoire

Music Producer & Arranger Martin Terefe

Music Co-Producer & Mixer Oskar Winberg

Set Designer Ben Stones

Video Designer Andrzej Goulding

Costume Designer Anna Fleischle

Lighting Designer Natasha Chivers

Sound Designer David McEwan

Dramaturg Lolita Chakrabarti

Associate Choreographer Lukas McFarlane

Music Associate & Additional Arrangements D.J. Walde

Assistant Choreographers Tommy Franzen and Lizzie Gough



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