The inaugural Australian Musical Theatre Festival launches Thursday, with performances and parties, actors and academics, and masterclasses and musical numbers, all descending on the city across the weekend.
The national event - the first of its kind for musical theatre - will include major shows at the Princess Theatre, a brand-new Australian work, workshops, pop-up performances, an extensive Schools Program and a late-night Festival Club.
The festival has events targeted at 'musical theatre lovers', 'future stars', and 'makers', including in-depth sessions on everything from auditioning to costuming. Behind-the-scenes experts will run workshops, with the on-stage talent led by musical theatre stars Rob Mills and Jemma Rix - who will reunite in Launceston after previously co-starring in Ghost: The Musical.
For the full program and tickets see amtf.org.au.
But in the meantime, here's a breakdown of what the festival has to offer straight from those in the know.
The manager's picks
Jane Forrest is the festival manager of the Australian Musical Theatre Festival.
The Great Debate: In a spin on the idea of 'musical comedy',the Great Debate will see theatre insiders and professional funny people go head-to-head to decide: is musical theatre art?
Arguing for the affirmative will be Errol award-winning theatre performer and comedian, Kerri Gay; Chilli FM breakfast host, Dan Taylor; and artistic director of Launceston company Mudlark Theatre, Cheyne Mitchell.
Protesting that musical theatre is not art will be founder and executive producer of Encore Theatre, Belinda King; performer, musician and writer, Bradley McCaw; and RAW Comedy state finalist, Ned Townsend.
"This is definitely going to be a fun night," Forrest said. "I can't wait!"
The Great Debate was also a strong contender for most-anticipated event for artistic director John X: "With two strong debating teams, who can say who will win?" he said.
- Friday May 24 at 7:30pm, Princess Theatre, $20
IN OTHER NEWS:
Building a Performance masterclass with Queenie van de Zandt: "Queenie is known as 'the star maker', so it's such a great opportunity to learn directly from her," said Forrest.
Van de Zandt began her career as a performer, appearing in Cabaret, Les Misérables, Anything Goes, Threepenny Opera, and The Boy from Oz, and scooping up several awards along the way. She now teaches through the University of Ballarat Arts Academy, the Victorian College of the Arts and the National Institute of Dramatic Arts Open Program.
This masterclass runs over two sessions, with the first laying down foundational concepts and skills, and the second challenging attendees to put them into action and develop their performances - heading along to both sessions is recommended.
- Thursday May 23 at 2pm and Friday May 24 at 10am, Launceston College, $65 for both classes.
Any Moment showing and artist talk: Launceston audiences will be among the first to see parts of the in-development new musical Any Moment, and will have the chance to peer behind the curtain by quizzing the director and cast in the following Q&A.
"This is a very exciting opportunity to see a brand-new Australian musical, still in development," Forrest said.
- Sunday May 26 at 2pm, Annexe Theatre, Inveresk, $20
The director's picks
John X is the artistic director of the Australian Musical Theatre Festival.
The Sound of Musicals: "Rob Mills, Jemma Rix and some incredible talent from around the country with all your favourite musical theatre tunes," John X said.
The stars of musical theatre - Jemma Rix, who played the starring role of Elphaba in Wicked, and Rob Mills, Australian Idol alumni and star of musicals including Grease and Jesus Christ Superstar - will lead a performance of musical theatre classics.
As the program puts it, "bring your jazz-hands and prepare for the ultimate musical theatre fix".
- Saturday May 25 at 7:30pm, Princess Theatre, $29
Rob Mills and Jemma Rix, In Their Own Words:The Sound of Musicals won't be Launceston's only chance to hear from Jemma Rix and Rob Mills - they will also appear in this guest talk and Q&A, where they will shed light on their careers and offer advice to aspiring performers.
"Get up close with Millsy and Jemma - hear about their careers and ask them your burning questions," John X said.
- Sunday May 26 at 11am, Princess Theatre, $20.
Belinda King is the president of the Encore Theatre Company.
Marketing for Musical Theatre Masterclass with Ian Phipps:"There is so much to be excited about in Tasmanian theatre, but I see show after show not reaching the audiences with far too many empty seats," King said.
"We owe it to our performers and production teams to invest the necessary care and attention on show marketing, so we can successfully showcase our talent and deliver it to wider audiences.
"I cannot wait to pick the brain of arguably Australia's best theatre marketer, Ian Phipps, at this masterclass, and think this is a 'must do' session for theatre organisations or indeed, anyone who wants to put on a show."
- Friday May 24 at 10am, Launceston College, $35
Navigating Copyright with Kim Ransley (Origin Theatrical), Stuart Hendricks (Music Theatre International) and David Spicer (David Spicer Productions): "This will be an incredible chance for local theatre producers to sit down with the three major rights companies in Australia, and talk to them about what licensing is required when producing a show," King said.
- Thursday May 23 at 2pm, Launceston College, $35