The Australian Music Theatre Festival announce full 2021 Program

The Australian Musical Theatre Festival is thrilled to announce the full performance and workshop program of our 2021 presentation, including our Artists and Teachers, who collectively will bring the best of Broadway to Launceston! Between them, they have starred in a plethora of blockbuster musicals, conquered the world’s stages, coached our finest performers and become familiar faces in the industry.

Alongside our previously announced headliners, Simon Gleeson, Natalie O’Donnell and Callum Francis, the Festival features the best Australia has to offer. Heading the list is Music Theatre director, Roger Hodgman, who has been at the helm of a huge number of musicals from ‘Sweeney Todd’ to ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang!’, as well as running the Melbourne Theatre Company for over ten years.

The musical direction of several of the Festival performances will be undertaken by the legendary, Michael Tyack who was recently awarded the Order of Australia for his services to the Performing Arts through countless musicals. Michael is currently preparing to Musically Direct the smash hit musical, ‘Come From Away’.

Natalie Gilholme is a true theatre animal and will be presenting a range of workshops that speak to her many talents. With a worldwide career as a performer, resident director, agent, producer and casting director, she brings a huge knowledge and range of experiences to the Festival. Prior to COVID 19, Natalie was the resident director on the International tour of ‘Matilda’ and recently casting director of ‘West Side Story’ and ‘The Phantom of the Opera’. Natalie will not only teach but also act as the casting director for the many performance opportunities available to those attending the Festival, providing a valuable link to industry while providing opportunities for participants, no matter their experience.

The stars continue to descend on Launceston with performer, Natalie Gamsu, (‘Strictly Ballroom’, ‘Ladies in Black’, ‘Mary Poppins’) and Broadway dancer, Deone Zanotto (‘Chicago’, ‘West Side Story’, ‘A Chorus Line’) alongside leading Tasmanian figures in the theatre including singing teacher, Jane Edward, Festival favourite, John Xintavelonis, Musical Director, Amanda Hodder and internationally acclaimed costume maker, Anthony Phillips.

These acclaimed talents will join forces to celebrate, interrogate and proliferate Musical Theatre in the city of Launceston in a truly national festival, unlike any seen before and all designed within a COVID-aware environment.

Classes are streamed so participants can find the perfect fit for their interests and ability in a range of topics including singing, acting, dancing and also producing, directing, costume making, writing, musical direction, audition technique and well-being for performers.

In addition, the Festival’s Performance program has developed into a wide array of events that celebrate and challenge the notion of telling stories through music. While Festival favourites remain including the Gala Concert, ‘The Sound of Musicals’ at the Princess Theatre, new events include a celebration of Australian Musicals called, ‘Once in a Blue Moon’ which showcases home grown musicals from ‘Priscilla, Queen of the Desert’ to ‘Ned Kelly’ and each with a distinguished cast mixing the best of Broadway and local talent.

In 2021, Musical Theatre will extend into unexpected venues and push beyond traditional time frames. Callum Francis, star of ‘Kinky Boots’, will hold a late-night offering, ‘Twisted Broadway’ where participants are encouraged to sing songs written for the opposite gender while ‘Les Mis’ and ‘Mama Mia!’ stars, Simon Gleeson and Natalie O’Donnell unite for an intimate afternoon of song and stories in ‘Heart and Music’. The Royal Oak Hotel will host ‘Choir in the Pub’ with a Musical Theatre twist and further afield, ‘Jack and Gin’ will be a pairing of the best Tasmanian gins with songs, as presented by local theatre performer and gin distiller, Jack Lark and international Music Theatre Chanteuse, Natalie Gamsu.

In line with the Festival’s commitment to broaden the range of musical theatre presented and contribute to the Australian voice in this art form, there will be two new Australian musicals being developed during the festival, ‘Bearded’ by Sean Donehue and Nick Waxman and the first Indigenous musical sung in language, ‘Yellow Rock’ by Brittanie Shipway. ‘Launceston-the Musical!’ will also be created by Derek Rowe during the Festival using events, as they happen, as inspiration.

Festival Executive Producer, Tyran Parke is thrilled with the 2021 offerings:

“After a year of theatres being ‘dark’, I’m excited about the renewed energy taking to our stages, traditional and otherwise, and look forward to the community coming together to applaud an art form that constantly reinvents itself, while enjoying all that Tasmania has to offer.”

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Gabi Bergman

Gabi Bergman is a Melbourne-based performer and educator, and is the current Deputy Editor-in-Chief of She holds a Double Arts degree in Theatre Studies and Film/Screen Studies and a Master of Teaching (Secondary Education). Gabi has always been an avid lover of theatre, specifically musicals, and spends way too much money than she’d like to admit on tickets. Her most prized possession is her crate of theatre programs.

Gabi Bergman

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