When Britney Spears takes the stage at the New Orleans Arena on Tuesday, March 3 - the opening night of her Circus tour - the stakes will never be higher.
Singles such as the title track, "Womanizer" and "If U Seek Amy" are burning up the radio, but if Spears can't hack it live, she'll never be truly back on top.
After two years of personal drama, this concert tour will either make or break the professional comeback Larry Rudolph has been orchestrating since last fall.
According to sources, Britney Spears, 27, who left Friday for Louisiana, has been hard at work preparing for the show, which will feature her signature sexy dance moves, a stage filled with three circus rings, and magic tricks.
"She's pretty determined," a friend told celeb news mag People. "She missed singing and performing and the freedom of that. It gives her an escape and it's what she loves to do, so she's definitely thankful to be doing that again."
Although the star seemed to be back to her old form when she sang "Womanizer" on Good Morning America in December, the concert will be her biggest since her epic meltdown at the 2007 MTV Video Music Awards (above, right).
As for Spears' last tour, waaaaaaay back in 2004, that was canceled after the singer injured her knee during a video shoot. She spent her newfound free time with then-boyfriend Kevin Federline; they were engaged that summer.
Bottom line? Girl is way past her musical prime (see above, left). Can she recapture the live magic? And will fans still turn out in droves to support her?
So far, the buzz for the upcoming 31-city outing is strong. Tickets have sold well, with some shows already sold out even in these tough economic times.
Of course, some interest may stem from the sideshow that is her personal life.
Wednesday, her father and conservator, Jamie Spears, was granted an extension on a restraining order against his daughter's ex-manager Sam Lutfi.