Maryann Wright, a theatre publicist well known to us at AussieTheatre, is currently a contestant on Channel 9’s The Voice. Performing from two musical theatre favourites so far, she is representing the theatre world to a television audience, something that most performers wouldn’t dream of doing on a pop/rock oriented television show. I spoke to Maryann before her second Battle Round regarding her career aspirations, why performers shouldn’t be scared to present musical theatre to a wide audience, and why she keeps crossing paths with Delta.
Q. You worked on the CATS publicity team when Delta was playing Grizabella, and now she’s coaching you on The Voice – how do you feel about running into her in multiple facets of your life?
Delta Goodrem is a beautiful soul so the more times I run into her, the more fortunate for me! I learn so much from her in whatever context. She is one of those people who just radiate beauty from the inside and has a gorgeous, warm energy. That’s a lot of adjectives, but she is a special person and a very naturally gifted lady!
Delta is interested in telling the story of the song and letting your body and voice be the vehicle of that. So for me we have been looking at exploring different colours for certain sounds and releasing the body to hold the stage in a powerful way. I’m just trying to be a sponge and soak up her knowledge!
Q. As a professional publicist, you’re used to helping others achieve their time in the spotlight – how does it feel to have that attention all to yourself, on national television no less?
I’ve spent a lot of time these past few years watching others on stage and learning from brilliant Australian performers. Working in publicity I also get insight into the broader picture of what its like to be a professional performer in rehearsals and media calls and publicity interviews and red carpets… […] I chalk it all up to experience to be ready for my moment to stand on the stage and do what I love best – tell a story through song. It feels good, it’s a moment I’ve been working towards for years.
Q. You entered the competition representing musical theatre and carried that through to your second performance, but some of the judges suggested you should move away from the “staged” nature of the genre. Will you continue to perform musical theatre on the show, or do you believe you can bring your acting skills to any genre or song?
I think the reason why we sing is to tell stories. Music can carry feeling and understanding sometimes infinitely better than words can. So I think of myself as a storyteller and just try to communicate the meaning of the song the best I can. What is often different in musical theatre is that you are another character, in that you make decisions about how to sing a line or place a meaning based on another set of circumstances that aren’t your own. The coaches have encouraged me in the Super Battle round to sing the song “as Maryann” and not as the character of the showtune. The great thing about [The Voice] is that it encourages you to dig deep and reveal yourself on stage with no characters to hide behind and I’m excited for the challenge!
Q. Why did you want to bring the musical theatre genre to a TV audience that are usually considered more of a pop audience?
Because musical theatre is the best! Showtunes are in my blood. They just seep out and infiltrate everything from what I hum around the house to riffs and melodies I dream up in the car. Musical theatre is very tied to who I am authentically and I think audiences at the end of the day want to be entertained and want to see someone on stage being the best version of themselves. It can be jarring for the general public who aren’t familiar with musical theatre songs because they musically are styled and structured differently, but I think it’s always good to have diversity because maybe there are some One Direction fans ready to be converted to musical theatre tragics.
Q. How are you finding the schedule of the show? Is it as fast-paced as a professional musical theatre rehearsal room?
The schedule of the show is lots of long days on set which is certainly energy draining but at the same time the most surreal, exciting time of my life. There’s a lot more sitting around in TV than when you’re rehearsing a show, but instead I spend a lot of time hanging low and reserving my energy for the big bursts that come.
Q. What do you hope to get out of your The Voice experience?
I just want to become a better performer so I can tell stories and connect to people better. Singing on a stage to hundreds of people is where I am most alive as a human being, truly in my element and happy. Getting the chance to do that, and be mentored by music legends and learn from them and learn from my mistakes and learn from my successes… it’s everything. It’s the dream.
Q. What has been your favourite part of the experience so far?
There is a new challenge around every corner and the show is so fast paced you have no option but to dare greatly and jump! I’ve loved the personal growth and the chance to learn by doing and learn from my peers – both the coaches and producers and also the beautiful artists on the show this year.
Q. What other projects are you working on at the moment?
At the moment I am all-consumed in ‘The Voice’ mode! In my down time I’m also working on my one-woman cabaret about the life of 1920s Hollywood journalist Hedda Hopper.
Q. What do you want to be doing when your Voice experience ends? Do you hope this experience opens up a professional full time performing career?
The dream has always been to perform in professional musicals. My number one goal is to get cast in a big, touring Australian show.
We wish Maryann Wright a massive chookas ahead of her next appearance on the The Voice, competing in the Super Battle airing tonight at 7.30pm on Channel 9.