A Prior Engagement with Marina Prior

Marina Prior. Photo supplied.
Marina Prior. Image by Graham Jepson

Brisbane audiences are in for a special treat with Marina Prior’s one-woman show – A Prior Engagement – heading to Brisbane Powerhouse’s Visy Theatre this September 10 and 11.

She has been a household name in Australia for many years, starring in over twenty lead roles in major musical productions including Les Miserables, The Phantom of the Opera, Cats and the upcoming revival of The Sound Of Music in the role of the Baroness Schraeder.

What many people don’t know is the woman behind the mask and the makeup – Marina Prior.

AussieTheatre’s QLD correspondent, Bobbi-Lea caught up with Marina to talk about how her one woman show and the amazing career that has spanned two decades.

Marina reminisced about her busking days in Melbourne’s Burke St Mall and various folk venues to support herself while studying music at Melbourne university. It was during this time that Marina won her breakout role as Mabel in the Victoria State Opera’s The Pirates of Penzance. From student to leading lady in an instant: “it was such a shock to my whole being.”

She recalls reading about the audition in the paper;

“It was a cattle call held for hours under the Princess Theatre. We were given a number and got taken up in groups of 5. I had to sing two chorus parts. Then I got a call back and had to learn Mabel’s aria. I learnt it over night and went back the next day.”

She won the role and the rest, as they say, is history and her training in stagecraft began in front of 2000 people each night, shaping her into the performer she is today.

“It was a very unusual situation. I was only 19 when I got the role. I learnt the reality about eight shows a week – the vocally gruelling schedule of eight shows a week. I learnt how to behave and not behave, just by absorbing, watching, watching.”

There have been many highlights during Marina’s extensive career but she says, “the highlight is always the gig I’m doing right at the moment.”

Then adds, “Guys and Dolls and Witches of Eastwick was a turning point, because I changed from being typecast as the ingénue and started getting character roles, and then I started getting plays with the Melbourne Theatre Company.” Marina relishes the diversity and longevity her career has afforded her, “I’ve been able to evolve myself as more than I started out with.”

When asked why Marina wanted to be a performer, she replied, “It was never even a decision, it’s just something I honestly inherently knew, that it was something I knew I had to do.”

“It wasn’t a conscious choice, it’s just who I am.”

Marina Prior’s one-woman show – A Prior Engagement, is playing at the Brisbane Powerhouse, September 10th and 11th. For more information, visit the Powerhouse Theatre website: brisbanepowerhouse.org.

Bobbi-Lea Dionysius

Bobbi-Lea is AussieTheatre.com's QLD Co-ordinator, writer, reviewer, and reporter. She is also an actor, presenter, and theatre/film producer for Drama Queen Productions in Brisbane. Bobbi-Lea holds a Degree in Music Theatre as well as a Degree in Film & TV, and is currently doing her Masters in Screen Production.

Bobbi-Lea Dionysius

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