Ah, the ever-enigmatic world of musical theatre – where stars are born and legends are made. If you’ve had the pleasure of attending a performance in Sydney recently, one star, in particular, has been causing quite the ruckus (and for all the right reasons, I assure you). Enter, the effervescent Courtney Monsma, a veritable force in the world of theatre.
Courtney stands out as a multifaceted gem, gleaming with both talent and versatility. Best known for her magnetic portrayal of Princess Anna in the Australian rendition of Disney’s ‘Frozen the Musical’, Courtney’s flair for capturing the essence of her characters is palpable. Currently, she’s embarking on a cinematic journey with ‘Paper Dolls’ for Helium Pictures, set to premiere on Network 10 and 10 Play.
Her theatrical résumé is nothing short of impressive. From embodying the vivacious Katherine Howard in ‘SIX The Musical’ at the iconic Sydney Opera House, to weaving magic as Princess Jasmine in Disney’s ‘Aladdin’, and delving into the spirited world of ‘Mamma Mia!’, Monsma’s prowess knows no bounds. This Gold Coast native’s early foray into the performing arts saw her gracing local concerts and events. Her academic years at the Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University not only honed her skills but also saw her bringing characters like Charity, Carmen, and Maria to life under the adept guidance of Associate Professor Paul Sabey.
Her talents aren’t confined to the stage alone. Courtney has made a mark on screen, with standout roles in short films, notably the eponymous lead in ‘Dorothy’, and memorable appearances in shows like ‘Toasted TV’. In 2022, this dynamo artist unveiled ‘In The Light’, her debut album, weaving in her cherished songs and the evocative original track ‘The Light That You Are’.
In our latest conversation with Courtney, it became clear that she’s more than just an artist; she’s a dynamic powerhouse, constantly elevating and evolving her craft.
The leap from portraying the delightful Princess Anna in ‘Frozen the Musical’ to the iconic Glinda in ‘WICKED’ might seem vast for some. Yet for Courtney, it’s a transition undertaken with both finesse and passion. “I’m truly so grateful for my journey as Princess Anna,” she reflects. The complexities of Glinda have required “vocal training and stamina”, an endeavour Monsma clearly has embraced given her celebrated performances.
After your captivating performance as Princess Anna in ‘Frozen the Musical’, how has transitioning to the role of Glinda in WICKED been for you? What are the unique challenges and joys of portraying this iconic character?
I’m truly so grateful for my journey as Princess Anna as the role has prepared me so much for taking on another big role like Glinda. I found the transition into Glinda quite easy as I found a lot of parts of myself resonated with her essence. That being said, it was a lot of hard work and research to get her to the portrayal I have today, which was a rewarding challenge when getting to know the show and the text so personally. Glinda is a role that utilises all parts of my voice so that required vocal training and stamina. My biggest joy is what I get to experience through her arc as an actress, her authenticity is something I am grateful to play in daily.
The bond between Elphaba and Glinda is the beating heart of ‘WICKED’. This intricate relationship becomes ever more poignant with the genuine affection Monsma shares with her co-star, Sheridan Adams. “I genuinely am a big fan of Sheridan on and off the stage,” she says, underscoring the importance of mutual respect and trust in creating stage magic.
WICKED is renowned for its emotional depth and intricate relationships, especially between Elphaba and Glinda. How do you and Sheridan Adams work together to bring that intense friendship to life on stage?
I genuinely am a big fan of Sheridan on and off the stage, so it’s very easy to form that bond. We gained a lot of trust and respect through our rehearsal process which allowed for deeper discoveries on stage. I think we feel comfortable to be vulnerable with each other and that’s a special element that is brought into the show. Going out on stage with love and admiration for each other means we feel safe to explore the wonderful character dynamics.
Courtney’s diverse experiences, from her spirited portrayal of Katherine Howard in ‘SIX The Musical’ to the vivacious Charity in ‘Sweet Charity’, have evidently enriched her theatrical repertoire. “Each character, each life experience really does inform the knowledge and skill you have,” she muses, reflecting on how these roles have imbued her with the confidence and gravitas to master the nuances of Glinda.
You’ve taken on diverse roles throughout your career, from Katherine Howard in ‘SIX The Musical’ to Charity in ‘Sweet Charity’ during your time at the Queensland Conservatorium. How do these past experiences inform and enrich your portrayal of Glinda?
Each character, each life experience really does inform the knowledge and skill you have as a person to apply to the next role. My journey on Six really taught me to begin to harness my confidence on stage whilst playing Howard, this experience helps so much with Glinda and owning her space. My training at university is one of the reasons I’ve had the chance to play these roles, learning the right technique to apply to them. As Glinda goes from uni student to adult throughout the show I can really draw on these times and how I approached each show.
WICKED in Sydney has been nothing short of a sensation, and Monsma is right at its epicentre. With genuine humility, she admits, “Every time I enter in the bubble I hold my wand and feel so lucky.” The camaraderie backstage, the shared memories, and the collective dedication make this production particularly dear to her.
The production of WICKED in Sydney has received rave reviews, with John Frost mentioning its opulence and extravagance. How does it feel to be a part of such a grand spectacle, and what’s the experience like behind the scenes?
It honestly feels a bit surreal and my gratitude is never lost. Every time I enter in the bubble I hold my wand and feel so lucky to share this story with a new audience. Behind the scenes it’s just as exciting as the exterior. From the rehearsal process, to even the memories made backstage with cast and crew, there is just something really special about this show, and peoples connections with it, that makes for a lovely and inspiring environment.
Considering her humble beginnings, Courtney’s achievements stand as a reflection of her talent, dedication, and sheer will. “I often think of little Courtney and if she could even fathom what I get to do!” she shares with endearing candour. And to those aspiring performers? “Enjoy the process… and dream big!” A sentiment that encapsulates her own remarkable journey.
Coming from Queensland’s Gold Coast and having such a deep-rooted connection to musical theatre from a young age, how does it feel to now be leading a major production in Sydney, and what advice would you give to young performers aspiring to follow in your footsteps?
I often think of little Courtney and if she could even fathom what I get to do! As much as it’s overwhelmingly exciting, it does feel like I’m in the right place and all the hours of hard work and dedication has led me here. I saw wicked with school and dreamt of being on the stage so I would say that it is possible. To enjoy the process and enjoy getting the chance to do what you love! No matter what you do, it’s how you do it and what you can gain from the experience. And to dream big!
Taking a look back at where she started, from those early days on the Gold Coast to now being on the big stage, it’s super clear that Courtney’s journey has been nothing short of remarkable. All those roles, performances, and moments in the spotlight? They’re not just luck. They’re solid proof of her immense talent, unwavering dedication, and that rock-solid determination she brings to everything she does.
Don’t miss your chance to see Courtney Monsma as Glinda and Melbourne’s Sheridan Adams, in her lead debut, as Elphaba alongside Robyn Nevin, Todd McKenney, Liam Head, and others now playing at Sydney’s Lyric Theatre.
Get your ticket from the official website HERE.
Photo Credit: Jeff Busby