Going Out: Marina Prior, Our Leading Lady

Marina Prior. Photo: Graham Jepson

Marina Prior. Photo: Graham Jepson

Across a 30-year career, Marina Prior has played some of musical theatre’s biggest roles. Now she’s giving an intimate show for Hamer Hall’s Morning Melodies, in which she’ll play her most revealing role yet – herself.

“There’s a great sense of liberation when I perform in concert,” Marina says. “You tend to sing your favourite songs and ones that have a particular significance to you. When I go to see an artist, that’s the sort of thing I want to know.”

The one-hour show will have an element of memoir, tracking Marina’s musical career from her early days busking as a folk singer, as she shares her favourite songs with help from a string quartet and pianist. While Marina says she enjoys seeing how songs have evolved since she first sang them, she’s never tempted to revisit past roles.

“I’m the sort of person that, if I’ve done something, I like to leave it and move on,” she says. “For me, it’s always about going forwards – or at least diagonally. What excites me is the next role I’m going to sing.”

Finding the next role isn’t always easy for a woman above a certain age.

Marina counts herself lucky to have enjoyed a long and varied career that has branched out into concerts, television and straight theatre. Later this year she’ll tread the boards in a non-singing role for MTC’s Hay Fever.

“My perfect year is concerts, a musical and a play,” she says. “If you’re waiting for the next musical with the perfect role, you could be waiting a while. I don’t think there’s ever enough roles for older females.”

Her advice to those wanting to follow in her footsteps is to branch out into as many different areas as possible.

“Because I was a young soprano, playing all the romantic heroines, a lot of people told me that was all I could do,” she says.

“I had to really push to do the comic roles and the character roles I wanted to do. It took me quite a few years to gain the self-confidence to stand up and push my boundaries. I would tell young performers now – don’t let other people define you.”

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