To say that Barbara and the Camp Dogs is a roller coaster ride would be selling it short, says Alana Valentine.
The best description the playwright has of this high-octane rock gig musical actually came from an audience member.
"Your cheeks will be sore from laughing, while still having open heart surgery," she says.
"Oh, I haven't heard that before. That's a great way of putting it," one of the show's stars, Elaine Crombie adds down the phone line. The pair are in separate cities but the conference call provides a perfect opportunity to catch up.
"I think that's what a theatre show should be. You should walk out feeling like you've gone on this ride, this journey," Valentine says
Barbara and the Camp Dogs is a fusion of music and narrative that ranges from punk-inspired explosions of rage to tender rock and soul ballads full of yearning.
But aside from its soundtrack - which combined with the onstage rock band that really adds a certain atmosphere usually reserved for live gigs - audiences are expected to be taken on a journey in more than one way.
First there is the road trip which the musical revolves around, where "the magic of theatre, light and scene changes, and of course dialogue describing our environment", will next week take Canberra Theatre Centre audiences from Sydney to Katherine.
Then there is the emotional journey of the characters themselves. Simply put, Valentine says this is about "sisters and their love and sacrifice for one another" as they embark on a pilgrimage back to regional Australia after news breaks that their mother's health is deteriorating.
And then there's - what the show's marketing describes as - a "political cry from the heart".
It's this last point which Valentine says really hits home for the audience.
While the cast is undeniably talented, and belt their heart out to the Barbara and the Camp Dogs soundtrack, Valentine says it's the musical's soul which takes a hold of the audience and brings them to their feet.
"There really are some hard truths which are brought up in it, that people agree with," she says.
"At the core of this, it's about the suffering of the first nation's people."
"It's quite clear what the story's message is," Crombie adds. "The storyline and songs make sure of that."
One could say that Barbara and the Camp Dogs was more than a decade in the making. The title character - played by co-writer Ursula Yovich - is based on what the actor describes as her little alter ego which comes out when she's relaxed around friends.
It was about a decade after Yovich first "discovered" Barbara that she told Valentine about it and thus inspired the musical.
Meanwhile, the character of Barbara's foster sister Rene is based on Crombie.
"Elaine came on really early on and was able to workshop the character so Rene was as much her as Barbara is Ursula," Valentine says.
"And Elaine is a showstopper. People don't realise how good of a singer Elaine is. They're gobsmacked by her talent."
Barbara and the Camp Dogs will be at the Canberra Theatre Centre from May 30 to June 1.