Caroline O'Connor: Up Close and Intimate at Darlinghurst Theatre Company
Hailed "extraordinary" by The Australian and loved by fans across the world, Caroline O'Connor has carved an impressive career starring in a string of iconic Broadway musicals including Chicago, Anything Goes, West Side Story, Gypsy and Funny Girl. With a songbook as rich as they come, experience Caroline's favourite show tunes, ballads and the epics we all know and love at Darlinghurst Theatre Company April 12 for one night only.
Carly spoke with Caroline about her career, her inspirations, and what's yet to come, and Caroline offers some advice to emerging artists on the scene. Read the full interview below:
Throughout the years your career has taken you around the country and then well beyond to the stages of the West End and Broadway. How have you gone about selecting the songs for your latest cabaret, Up Close and Intimate, and do the songs featured in this performance hold relevance to particular important moments of your career thus far?
Yes, they do. I always feel I have to include some numbers I’m known for from previous productions, otherwise some audience members are disappointed. On this occasion, I’ve also decided to perform numbers from shows, which I’ve performed in overseas and haven’t been seen in Australia. And I am delighted that my musical director Daniel Edmonds has written a beautiful, original song for me, with which I’ll be closing the show.
And then as a follow up to that, is there a highlight in this show for you to sing or a moment that you love to share with the audience?
What I find is that while audiences always enjoy the songs, they also love to hear all the stories from productions I’ve been in and all about the backstage goings-on. I do enjoy talking to the audience about my childhood and my theatre experiences, because people are always curious to know about your offstage persona. And of course, I love to revisit the fabulous shows I’ve been so fortunate to have been a part of.
Is there a theatrical experience on your performer’s bucket list that you would love to still achieve? Beyond a dream role, what would be a dream moment for you – is there somewhere that you dream of performing or someone you dream of performing with?
I was recently in The Rise and Fall of Little Voice at the Darlinghurst Theatre Company. That was a dream come true. I would very much like to do more dramatic works, including straight plays, film and television, as I adored my experience on Moulin Rouge. A dream role of mine is performing Aurora in Kiss of the Spider Woman, which I will finally get the chance to do with the Melbourne Theatre Company in November and December this year.
No doubt you are asked to offer advice to those who dream of being performers all the time, but what advice do you have for those emerging or established performers who dream of expanding their experiences to also go abroad and perform internationally? What are the beginning steps in that process and what are the traits you feel it necessary to possess in order to build a successful international career as you have? Where does one begin, but more importantly, what are both the challenges and highlights you have faced?
The advice I always give young people is to be themselves and be original – don’t try to be anybody else, because directors really never know what they want until they see it. For me, going overseas was the best thing I ever did. It gave me the opportunity to work with some of the best international directors and choreographers at the top of their game, including Hal Prince, Ann Reinking, Walter Bobbie, Darko Tresnjak, as well as with the actual composers in the room, such as Jerry Herman, Kander and Ebb, Pasek and Paul, and Stephen Sondheim.
Having performed in a number of musicals before, what is it that you most enjoy about performing in something that, as it is titled, is more up close and intimate? How does that change the experience for you as a performer and the repertoire you build with your audiences?
I enjoy the connection with the audience in smaller venues. It’s a totally different experience to being in a full-blown production where you are supported by an orchestra, lights and costumes. It’s just you, a piano and the audience – it’s a lot more raw. I do theatre because I love to play to an audience and make them happy, if I can. I want to give them a wonderful night out and I hope they will enjoy the music as much as I do.
What can audiences expect from Up Close and Intimate? Why must those who missed out last time make sure not to miss out again when you return to the Darlinghurst Theatre on April 12th?
You can expect to hear classic songs that have stood the test of time and to be witness to a live performance which can never be repeated – that’s what makes it so special. Anything could happen. I go with the audience, the flow and the atmosphere on the night. It’s such an honour to be invited back to the Darlinghurst Theatre Company. During the last cabaret in early March, the audience and I had a such a wonderful time and I can’t wait to be reunited with Daniel Edmonds on stage. When he plays, he brings out the best in me.
RAPID FIRE QUESTIONS:
Favourite production you have ever seen?
I think it would have to be Hamilton in New York. It was so difficult to get tickets and the buzz about the show was still electric. I saw the original cast with the exception of Lin Manuel Miranda, but his understudy was amazing and he cried during the curtain call, which was adorable. There were crazy fans in the audience, which was a bit distracting, but I was completely blown away and can’t wait to see it again in London soon.
You’re getting on a plane tomorrow and you can go anywhere in the world, where do you go?
Oooh, that’s a difficult question. I’ve travelled a lot! I’ve had some incredible holidays and experiences. I love London and still have a home there. I got married in Mauritius. I have just moved from Sydney to Noosa. The Whitsundays are incredible. I’ve travelled through Europe. I loved Palermo in Sicily, Cannes and the magnificent Cote du Azur. I adore Paris. I did Sweeney Todd and On the Town there. And of course, New York. I’ve performed in three shows on Broadway! You get to see all those fabulous shows and performances. Hawaii is gorgeous. But there are a lot of places in the world I haven’t been to yet. Japan looks fascinating, so maybe that’s where I’d go if it was a spur of the moment decision.
Dream show to perform in?
I’d love to play Dolly Levi in Hello Dolly. Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard and Eleanor Of Aquitaine in the play The Lion in Winter. Oh dear that’s three! Greedy lol.
Plays or musicals?
Musicals, of course! They are much harder to do!
A hobby you have beyond the theatre?
I love to garden. Mostly potting. I’m mad about succulents. I transported all mine from Sydney to Noosa. They are my plant babies.
What’s next for you after this show?
I’m starring in Applause for Neglected Musicals at the Hayes Theatre in May, followed by a trip overseas to London, New York, Paris and Cyprus. On my return I’m doing a concert tour of Australia in La Scala to Broadway starting September. Then in October I begin rehearsals for Kiss of the Spiderwoman with the Melbourne Theatre Company. So busy times ahead! It’s a good thing I love my work :)
Up Close and Intimate opens at Darlinghurst Theatre Company's Eternity Playhouse on Friday April 12, 2019 for one night only. You can get your tickets here.