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BWW Feature: THE AUSTRALIAN MUSICAL THEATRE FESTIVAL

"Could it be? Yes, it could. Something's coming, something good" .... The Australian Musical Theatre Festival in Launceston from 19th to 23rd May.

BWW Feature: THE AUSTRALIAN MUSICAL THEATRE FESTIVAL

After glorious success in 2019, The Australian Musical Theatre Festival is back for a second season with an impressive line-up of artists who have graced the stages of Broadway, The West End and Australia's very own East End. Fresh from directing the sold-out Melbourne season of Chess, Tyran Parke returns to The Australian Musical Theatre Festival, this time as its executive producer. I caught up with him briefly via zoom to discuss the upcoming Festival. He remarks, "I think it is a really good time to have a festival of musical theatre, because musical theatre is having a bit of an identity crisis.... the world has changed, and musical theatre needs to keep up.... it's a time to develop our Australian voice."

When asked about the stellar line up of artists, which include the internationally esteemed Simon Gleeson (Les Misérables, Love Never Dies, Oklahoma, Chess), Natalie O'Donnell (Mamma Mia, Spelling Bee, Crazy for You, Jerry's Girls) and Callum Francis (Kinky Boots, Miss Saigon, The Lion King, Rent), Parke states "To have just one of these names is a coup but to have all three performing and collaborating together in Launceston is nothing short of a miracle. Each are wonderful singers who are rarely seen outside of big commercial musicals in Melbourne and Sydney, each are passionate educators, and each are committed to finding new ways of exploring Musical Theatre in Australia, while celebrating the rich history of what has been. The Festival will be a meeting place to develop new work, celebrate the classics and engage in local Launceston culture, through the elements of Musical Theatre; song, dance and story."

BWW Feature: THE AUSTRALIAN MUSICAL THEATRE FESTIVAL

When I asked Parke how the Festival started in Launceston, he passionately remarks that "Launceston has a massive love affair with musical theatre". Certainly, boutique festivals seem to thrive in smaller cities, you have only to look at Adelaide to see how successful festivals can be.

The Australian Musical Theatre Festival will last for 5 days and will consist of workshops, teacher developments, performances and special events. The directing workshop with Roger Hodgman, who has directed over 125 productions for Melbourne Theatre Company, as well as a session joined by Dr Asher Warren on theatre creation, are two events that are alone well worth the trip to Launceston!

The most exciting aspect of this Festival is that it caters for lovers of musical theatre of all ages and experience. Workshops that Festival goers can attend are split up into lover & youth, future stars and makers, and if you are still not sure where you fit in, no worries, you can mix and match between different streams!

If you prefer participation in a more communal setting, this has also been catered for, with events like Choir in the Pub, where a group singing experience takes place in a relaxed atmosphere, or the Festival Mega-Workshop, which gives participants the opportunity to learn a group song and dance routine and then perform it at a secret location.

If you would prefer to just be an audience member, there are 11 performances over the five days who you to choose between. Two highlights are the new Australian musicals being performed, Bearded by Sean Donaghue and Nick Waxman and Yellow Rock by indigenous artist, Brittanie Shipway, which has been developed with support from the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre.

Perhaps the event that is destined to become a Festival favourite is Jack and Gin, where guests will match Tasmanian gins with musical theatre songs. Featuring Natalie Gamsu (Candide, Dr Zhivago, Mary Poppins, Women Of Troy, Baz Luhrman's Strictly Ballroom, Ladies In Black and Kiss Of The Spider Woman) and Tasmanian grown musical theatre performer and passionate whisky and gin distiller, Jack Lark, this event is likely to sell out quickly, so make sure to get your tickets fast!

The Australian Music Theatre Festival is on from 19 - 23 May 2021 in Launceston. To book your tickets and for more information please visit www.amtf.org.au.

The Australian Musical Theatre Festival is supported by the Tasmanian Government through Events Tasmania, the City of Launceston and many local Launceston businesses.


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