Three Headline Artists Announced
Launceston, May 19 – 23
After having to cancel last year’s event, the Australian Musical Theatre Festival is pleased to announce the appointment of their 2021 Festival Headline Artists: Simon Gleeson, Natalie O’Donnell and Callum Francis.
Between them, the three have starred in a plethora of blockbuster musicals, conquered the world’s stages and become familiar faces locally and abroad. All wonderful performers, all wonderful teachers and all coming to Launceston in May, 2021.
Festival Executive Producer Tyran Parke is thrilled to have secured the three artists in 2021. “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.”
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 had 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.
“Simon and I are thrilled to be invited to be a part of this year’s festival. 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,” Natalie O’Donnell.
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.
“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. 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 Francis.
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 AMTF in 2021 will also be offering a dedicated schools program for students and teachers. The program is designed to inspire and enthuse students, while building their creative and social skills. Students can participate in workshops with professional musical theatre teachers and performers, watch shows, perform in public and meet new musical theatre-loving friends. The teacher development workshops will be free to teachers travelling with school groups, with details of to be announced at the end of February, when the full festival program is launched. The schools program can be found here www.amtf.org.au/schools
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.