Marina Prior
Marina Prior Contributed

Enjoy angelic voice of Marina Prior

WHILE Marina Prior speaks gracefully through the telephone, it is easy to imagine her sitting on a cloud with a crown on her head and a golden harp playing softly in the background.

On stage and off Ms Prior is ethereal and angelic.

Many of us have grown up watching her on Christmas Eve during Carols by Candlelight or on the stage as Australia's first lady of musical theatre.

She is well known for her incredible career, which has spanned 30 years beginning with her break-out role as Mabel in Pirates of Penzance to her role as Christine in Phantom of the Opera.

Ms Prior will be performing at the MECC on August 6 as part of her national tour to coincide with the release of her new album Encore.

Her album is an arrangement of songs from musical, stage and screen, with the focus on her voice.

"The songs were recorded with a grand piano, acoustic guitar and strings - it is musical theatre unplugged.

"The versions of the songs are more intimate.

"I am still telling the same stories of the songs, but over the years these songs have evolved and I have put my own stamp and interpretation on them."

At the age of five Ms Prior announced to her parents that she was going to be a singer on the stage.

Before she could speak she would sing and knew she must have been able to hold a note when adults would comment on her lovely singing voice.

And her early predictions were not wrong.

While studying music at university in Melbourne, fate came in the form of a newspaper ad for a cattle call for a new Broadway play Pirates of Penzance.

Ms Prior and her university friends decided right then during lunch in a cafeteria to audition at the Princess Theatre.

"I thought to myself at the time that I would love to stand on this stage and sing.

"And I got the lead role, I was 19. It was really extraordinary, a fairytale, and the show was an enormous hit.

"The show could have been a flop, but it was Pirates of Penzance that gave me a lot of notice."

She said she was thrown into the deep end of the entertainment industry but believes that is where the best training happens.

"I did my training in front of 2000 people a night.

"There was pressure of making mistakes in front of the audience and critics," she said.

With hundreds of performances and a book filled with characters brought to life, it was the role of Christine in Phantom of the Opera that defined her as a performer.

"That role could have been written for me, it was if it was tailor made.

"It was a turning point in my career. It was the first time I was signed for recording. I have loved all of my roles in Les Miserables, Cats to Mary Poppins."

Every show brings its own personality and challenge, Ms Prior said, and choosing her favourite is like asking her to choose her favourite child - you can't ask it.

"Singing and performing is who I am; it is the greatest privilege," she said.

For tickets to Marina Prior's concert contact the MECC on 4961 9777.

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Q&A Marina Prior

Q: What is the most played song on your iPod?
A: A French singer called Camille. She sings in French which is great because I speak the language and it helps with my vocab. Joni Mitchell is always playing and I love Coldplay.

Q: When was the last time you were nervous?
A: The night before last I was in Wollongong and it was the same concert I am bringing to Mackay and it was the beginning of the tour. I wanted it to be perfect and as good as it could be. I was nervous because it was something slightly different for me and there was all new material.

Q: If you could be any fictional character who would you choose?
A: I reckon it would have to be Mary Poppins. She can fly and she is very much in charge.

Q: What was the last movie, TV show or book that made you cry?
A: I always cry in movies. But I was on a plane yesterday flying back from Sydney and I was watching Glee. I have never seen it. I don't have a lot of time to watch TV. They were all performing these goodbye songs and I got a bit choked up.

Q: What is your favourite quote or words of wisdom you live by?
A: Leave your ego at the door. I don't know who said it, I think I did. When I am rehearsing (ego) can block you as a performer. It is about being free and unfitting, it makes you a better performer.
When I was in Cats there were some of the top dancers in the country. I had done dance classes but not extensively. I thought I had to be Marina Prior in capital letters, so I went to the back of the dancers so they couldn't see me getting the choreography wrong. I then decided to move to the front even though I wasn't a superstar dancer. I am not as good but I will give it a go and work through it. People admire your ability to look foolish and they respect it. Don't worry about being great but be free to be vulnerable.

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