Home' Active Retirees : Active Retirees Jun July 2015 Contents COVER STORY
"I always knew I was unusual and
I'd never be the legitimate gorgeous
leading lady - I'd be something else.
I knew I'd be a character actor.
There are plenty of pretty girls out
there. But do you think those pretty
girls are gonna be in this town
forever? You should see Funny Girl
- I think not!"
A blessed career
While she may be considered by
some as a living legend, Caroline
still experiences butterflies before
each show. Right before she goes
on stage (after doing an Irish jig),
she heads to the wings relatively
early, where she'll take a peek at the
audience from behind the curtains
and mentally prepare herself.
"You've probably heard it 1000
times, but the audience really are
the most important people. And
they'll tell you if you're doing a good
job or not, as brutal or as kind as it
may be. I listen to them when I'm on
stage - their responses tell me if I'm
on the right track," she says.
It's been more than two decades
since Caroline made her stage
debut as Anita in West Side
Story in Melbourne and even
she is surprised that she is still
professionally dancing at 53.
"I'm lucky to still be dancing.
I really thought I'd have stopped by
now. When I was in Chicago, I was
well into my 40s and for a lot of
women that age, they're not dancing
anymore. It's hard work. Once you
start rehearsals, you really have to
get stuck in - you need stamina."
"I feel really blessed because I've
performed in so many shows that
I've always wanted to do and they
don't always come around in your
lifetime ... all the roles I've done
have been played by iconic divas.
18 I www.probussouthpacific.org
It's not fair! Seriously, how do you
do Barbra in Funny Girl?"
A highlight of Caroline's career so
far is when she transitioned from
stage to screen, when director Baz
Luhrmann asked her to audition for
the role of Nini Legs-in-the-Air in
the glamorous film, Moulin Rouge
with Nicole Kidman.
"I thought I was too old and that
Baz wouldn't want someone like
me. All the other younger kids were
auditioning, so I decided to not
bother going," she recalls. "I didn't
want to humiliate myself, but then
he saw me perform on the opening
night of Chicago and asked me to do
a screen test."
You've probably heard
it 1000 times, but the
audience really are the
most important people.
And they'll tell you if
you're doing a good job
or not, as brutal or as
kind as it may be.
"Baz is pretty arty. He's a little
out there, but crazy. Interesting
crazy. Creative crazy. I've never met
anyone like him. He's like a theatre
version of Warhol."
All the world's a stage
Now based in London, Caroline
is rubbing shoulders with some
of the world's leading producers,
performers and choreographers.
"I'd hate to think of myself as
a big fish in a small pond. I'd hate
to not know if I was capable of
doing what they do in England
or America," she say. "If you can
make it there, you really can make
"I think you learn a lot by going
overseas and seeing how they do it.
They have a certain knack to it.
I can't put my finger on it - there's
a certain energy and discipline
that's different. The education of
going overseas is just extraordinary,
because of the different types of
performances and direction that
you can see live. It's a smorgasbord
of learning and I wouldn't change it
for the world."
According to Caroline, Australian
performers have a great reputation
overseas and stack up quite well
with their US and UK counterparts.
However, Australia does not seem to
embrace the arts as wholeheartedly
as other countries, she reflects.
"When you go to London, you
think, 'What am I going to see at
the West End?' You don't just go,
'I'm going to the cricket or soccer.'
I mean, families do that as well, but
there aren't many who don't go to
a pantomime at Christmas. It's a
wonderful tradition. I think there's
something to be said in taking your
kids to the theatre to experience
something," she ponders.
"It's got great storytelling, but
nowadays, you're just worried
someone's going to pick up their
mobile phone [during a show]. Don't
do it, people! I can see it shining in
your face! I want to say, 'This show
isn't about you! It's about us!'" ..
PHOTOGRAPHY: Studio Commercial; ART DIRECTION:
Nina Christian; STYLING: Annette Twemlow; HAIR
AND MAKE-UP: Lisa Toyer; MALE MODELS: David
Helman and Joel Berliner; LOCATION: The Vanguard;
CLOTHES: Kimono, pearl necklace, láme swimsuit
and brooch, tuxedoes, all The Vintage Clothing Shop;
hosiery, Levante; jewellery, Peter Lang
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