From the West End to the AFL Grand Final: Amy Manford to lead national anthem

Perth-born soprano and MM Creative Productions co-founder Amy Manford has been confirmed to lead the nation in singing ‘Advance Australia Fair’ at the upcoming AFL Grand Final; due to be held for the first time at Perth’s Optus Stadium on September 25, 2021. 

Best known for her portrayal of Christine in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s original West End production of The Phantom of the Opera, Amy was announced to star in the same role in the Australian production later this year at the Sydney Opera House before the show was postponed to 2022 due to the developing outbreak in New South Wales. 

In addition to her prolific on-stage career, Amy is co-founder of MM Creative Productions alongside long-time friend and fellow theatre performer Genevieve McCarthy (Les Misérables, The Sound of Music), which will bring to life Disney in Concert: A Dream is a Wish for three exclusive performances at Riverside Theatre, Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre, on October 29 and 30. She was originally scheduled to be in Sydney for The Phantom of the Opera at the time of the AFL Grand Final, and so credits luck and timing for the opportunity to sing the Australian National Anthem at this year’s event in her hometown.

You’ve been working abroad for the past few years. Can you tell me a little bit about what you’ve been up to since leaving Australia? 

Amy: So, I did my undergrad at WAAPA in WA and then, after that, I moved to the UK to study a Masters at the Royal College of Music.

I had no connection to London at all, but I kind of attribute it to the way my career has gone because of the people I met and the opportunities I got there. I had coffee with a friend one day and she was like “you shouldn’t do opera school. You should go and audition for Phantom of the Opera. You’re perfect for it”. It was at the very, very end of the audition process, so I really, really didn’t think I’d get an audition and then I did about five auditions in a week and a half. Next thing you know, I was in front of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Cameron Mackintosh on the stage at Her Majesty’s Theatre and had the role the next day. Then I was going to South Korea to do a tour there with the London Cello Orchestra and finishing up my degree at the Royal College. 

And what it was like when COVID hit?

Amy: I briefly did [Christine] in Greece in Athens for a bit in a brand-new production and then I was there when COVID hit. So, we were actually the first production in the entire world that got cancelled. I remember all my friends in London, messaging me going “oh my God, are you joking? Wow, that’s crazy. Then next thing you know, two weeks later the whole world is in lockdown. So, during that time I made the quick decision to come back to Australia, thinking I’d just be back here for five weeks.

I am reprising Christine with Opera Australia at the Sydney Opera House, which was supposed to open three weeks ago [and] obviously got postponed due to COVID as well. Then I was supposed to do another big role in Australia which was also cancelled last week. It’s just really hard when obviously you worked so hard to get these roles. Now I’m back in Perth, I’m producing and performing in a concert called ‘Disney in Concert: A Dream is a Wish’ with fellow friend and colleague Genevieve McCarthy.

Amy Manford in promotional imagery for ‘Disney in Concert: A Dream is a Wish’

You’re currently set to sing the National Anthem at the upcoming AFL grand final… What, if any, is your relationship to football?

Amy: My youngest sister actually goes out with a footy player that plays for the Fremantle Dockers and so I’ve always watched footie growing up. Being able to follow a person and root for a specific team [has] made it a lot more exciting for me. It’s [also] going to be in WA for the first time.

How does it feel to get to represent national pride after being away from home for so long?

Amy: It’s really so exciting. All the males in my life are stoked. They just can’t believe that I’m performing at the Grand Final [and] they don’t care if I performed for royalty in London. I feel incredibly honoured that I get to sing the National Anthem at this Grand Final, especially after two years of real unpredictability. I’m really excited to perform in front of 65,000 people.

The last time I performed [the anthem], it was for Prince Harry and Megan Markle at the Anzac Day Memorial Service and then I performed for Prince Charles at Buckingham Palace. They have very formal events, and so you finish and there’s no clapping. So, it’s going to be [very different] at Optus Stadium with the crowd erupting at the end.

Amy will be singing the National Anthem at the 2021 AFL Grand Final on Saturday the 25th of September.

‘Disney in Concert: A Dream is a Wish’ will be performed on the 29th and 30th of October at the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre. To find out more and book tickets, CLICK HERE.

Merilee Ettia

Merilee Ettia is a UK based singer, actor and writer from Meanjin (Brisbane) Australia. From warbling coloratura rep to devising immersive shows and premiering new musicals, her diverse passions have driven her to study a multidisciplinary MA Music Theatre at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama.

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