THE AUSTRALIAN MUSICAL THEATER FESTIVAL
After a glorious success in 2019, The Australian Musical Theater Festival is back for a second season with an impressive line-up of artists who have taken to the stages of Broadway, the West End and the East End of Australia. Freshly run by Melbourne sold-out season Chess, Tyran Parke returns to The Australian Musical Theater Festival, this time as executive producer. I met him briefly via zoom to discuss the next Festival. He remarks: “I think it’s a great time to have a musical theater festival, because musical theater is going through a bit of an identity crisis … the world has changed and musical theater has to keep pace. …. Now is the time to develop our Australian voice. “
Asked about the list of stellar artists, including the famous Simon Gleeson (Wretched, Love never dies, Oklahoma, Chess), Natalie O’Donnell (Mamma mia, Bee spelling, Crazy of you, Jerry’s daughters) and Callum Francis (Naughty boots, Miss Saigon, The Lion King, Rental), Parke says, “To have just one of these names is a coup, but for all three to perform and collaborate together in Launceston is nothing short of a miracle. Each are wonderful singers who are rarely seen. Apart from the big commercial musicals in Melbourne and Sydney, everyone is passionate educator, and everyone is committed to finding new ways to explore musical theater in Australia, while celebrating the rich history of what has been. The Festival will be a meeting place to develop new works, celebrate classics and engage in local Launceston culture, through elements of musical theater; song, dance and history. “
When I asked Parke how the Festival started in Launceston, he said with passion that “Launceston has a huge love affair with musical theater”. Granted, boutique festivals seem to thrive in small towns, one only has to look at Adelaide to see how successful festivals can be.
The Australian Musical Theater Festival will last 5 days and will include workshops, teacher training, performances and special events. The directing workshop with Roger Hodgman, who has made more than 125 productions for the Melbourne Theater Company, as well as a session with Dr Asher Warren on theatrical creation, are two events that alone are worth the trip to Launceston!
The most exciting aspect of this festival is that it caters to musical theater lovers of all ages and backgrounds. The workshops that festival goers can attend are divided into lovers and young, future stars and creators, and if you still don’t know where you stand, no worries, you can mix and match different streams!
If you prefer to participate in a more community setting, this has also been taken into account, with events like Choir in the pub, where a group singing experience takes place in a relaxed atmosphere, or the Mega-workshop of the festival, which gives participants the opportunity to learn a group song and dance routine, then perform it in a secret location.
If you’d rather be just an audience member, there are 11 performances to choose from over five days. Two highlights are the new Australian musicals performed, Bearded by Sean Donaghue and Nick Waxman and Yellow boulder by indigenous artist Brittanie Shipway, which was developed with support from the Tasmanian Aboriginal Center.
Perhaps the event destined to become one of the Festival’s favorites is Jack and Gin, where guests will pair Tasmanian gins with musical theater songs. With Natalie Gamsu (Candid, Dr Zhivago, Mary poppins, Women of Troy, Strictly Baz Luhrman Ballroom, Ladies in black and Kiss of the spider woman) and Jack Lark, a Tasmanian-grown musical theater artist and avid whiskey and gin distiller, this event is likely to sell out quickly, so make sure you get your tickets fast!
The Australian Musical Theater Festival will take place May 19-23, 2021 in Launceston. To book your tickets and for more information, please visit www.amtf.org.au.
The Australian Musical Theater Festival is supported by the Government of Tasmania through Events Tasmania, the City of Launceston and many local Launceston businesses.