The Australian Musical Theatre Festival is thrilled to announce the appointment of their 2021 Festival Headline Artists, the internationally acclaimed, Simon Gleeson, Natalie O’Donnell and Callum Francis.
Between them, they have starred in a plethora of blockbuster musicals, conquered the world’s stages and become familiar faces locally. All wonderful performers, all wonderful teachers and all coming to Launceston in May 2021.
Simon Gleeson has appeared in musicals from Oklahoma to Chess to Love Never Dies but is best known for his starring role as Jean Valjean in Les Misérables, which he has played all over the world, from Melbourne to London’s West End.
Natalie O’Donnell has played starring roles in Spelling Bee, Crazy for You, Jerry’s Girls and has the distinction of playing the juvenile lead role of Sophie in the original Australian Cast of Mamma Mia – a show she returned to in the last Australian tour this time portraying the leading role of Sophie’s mum, Donna.
Callum Francis hails from England but is now happily based in Australia, having first toured to Melbourne as Lola, in the premiere of Kinky Boots! For this role he was personally chosen by composer Cyndi Lauper and has since donned the boots for stardom across England and on Broadway! He has also appeared in Miss Saigon, The Lion King and most recently Rent.
These acclaimed talents will join forces, along with a host of industry heavyweights 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.
The festival will consist of classes for all ages and abilities, teacher’s development programs and, of course a host of performances, panels and concerts across a five-day period in May. Many of these performances will be led by these three Festival Headliners, along with the soon to be announced supporting team of leading industry professionals, and a host of wonderful local talent.
Festival Executive Producer, Tyran Parke is bursting with enthusiasm over securing these three mega-talents to headline the 2021 offerings. “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,” said Parke.
From his dressing room at the Sydney Opera House, Callum Francis shared these thoughts; “Theatre is a huge part of our everyday living and 2020 has deprived us of it. So, it will be an absolutely joy to bring some to life again,” he said.
“Art is SO important, for telling stories and allowing us to learn about how other people are and live. I can’t wait to share my experiences and learn from the new ones this festival offers,” said Callum.
“Simon and I are thrilled to be invited to be a part of this year’s festival,” said Natalie. “The landscape of Australian Musical theatre is a rich and vibrant one and to be a part of this National Festival which not only celebrates and highlights Australian works, stories and professional artists but also invests in young performers and our future stars, is truly exciting.”
Festival Artistic Director, John Xintavelonis shared his excitement from Hobart: “I am so blown away by our superstar guest artist who have chosen to join us this year, and what a great opportunity for our local performers to get to know, learn and be inspired by some of the best in the business, and that includes me… hahahaha… so get to Launceston any way you can, you can’t afford to miss this year’s Musical Theatre Festival”
The Australian Musical Theatre Festival is an unparalleled opportunity for musical theatre lovers, makers and industry professionals to get together, share, nurture and celebrate this wonderful genre.
Held in Launceston, Tasmania, it includes a diverse program with opportunities to teach, collaborate, engage, perform, learn and – of course – enjoy. A non-profit event, the Festival is held annually to benefit Australia’s musical theatre industry.
The 2021 Australian Musical Theatre Festival takes place in Launcestion, Tasmania: 19 – 23 May. For more information, visit: www.amtf.org.au for details.
Image: Callum Francis, Simon Gleeson and Natalie O’Donnell (supplied)