Ben Finn chats with Carolyn Ferrie, currently starring in The Secret Garden, Adelaide.
One of my favourite musicals The Secret Garden, presented by the Gilbert & Sullivan Society of South Australia, is currently playing at the Arts Theatre in Adelaide. I caught up with one of the stars of the production, Carolyn Ferrie, who performed in the original Australian production with Anthony Warlow and Marina Prior.
Carolyn originally trained at the Elder Conservatorium of Music in Adelaide, before being cast as Gerda in Snow Queen as part of Come Out Festival, with Direction by then-newcomer Neil Armfield. This opportunity allowed Carolyn to work with the Australian Opera and State Opera of South Australia, before being cast as Christine cover in the original Australian production of The Phantom of the Opera.
Not long after The Phantom of the Opera, Carolyn was cast in the original Australia production of The Secret Garden as Rose and Lily cover. Australian music theatre royalty Anthony Warlow, Philip Quast and Marina Prior were cast as Archibald Craven, Archibald’s brother Neville and Lily.
During the season, Marina Prior was off-ill (pregnant with her first child), with Carolyn stepping in as Lily for about 8 weeks. Even though Carolyn had worked with Anthony previously in Phantom, it was this production that allowed her time to observe and work with such a master of the stage.
Aside from performing onstage opposite some of the biggest names in musical theatre, Carolyn has enjoyed a successful career in many facets of the arts. A little known fact about Carolyn is that she voiced The Wiggles character Dorothy The Dinosaur!
Blue Wiggle Murray was working with Carolyn on a CD of Irish music, when he asked if she could record a “trilly high laugh” for a Dinosaur character they were introducing for The Wiggles. After several trials, Carolyn nailed the famous Dorothy laugh and a 16 year (on and off) relationship began with everyone’s favourite Dinosaur. The partnership also opened the door for Carolyn to be cast as Queen Isabella in The Kingdom of Paramithi, a television series created by “The Wiggles”. It goes to show that the people you know and surround yourself with can often be your best assets.
Carolyn entered the professional arts industry at a very young age, almost immediately after completing her training. Not only does this demonstrate her immense talent, but also following on from her professional debut, Carolyn remained extremely open and accessible to many different opportunities: music, theatre, opera and television.
And so, after many years in the theatre, Carolyn is returning to The Secret Garden, a role she is enjoying singing again “for the soul”.
“The Secret Garden is not only beautiful, but ultimately haunting”, she tells me and I completely agree with her – the score is one of Lucy Simon’s best and Marsha Norman’s book/lyrics create a magical evening at the theatre.
After The Secret Garden, Carolyn is performing as part of the 2013 Adelaide Fringe Festival in Menage A Trois – Two girls, a guy … and his organ and will continue with her busy teaching and family life.
One last thing I asked Carolyn is about the best piece of advice that she had been given. She does not hesitate:
“Be prepared … and know your work”
A message she constantly passes on to all of her students.
The Secret Garden
Presented by The Gilbert & Sullivan Society of South Australia
Arts Theatre, Angas Street, Adelaide
Now playing until 9 February