Playing Italian sculptress Giulietta Trapani is thrilling, says Jodie Gillies. “She is the type of woman who loves to live. As she says in her song: ‘Hand me the wine and the dice, I want my carnival now, while I have thirst and lust for living.’ I can identify with that. It’s also good to wear silk and jewels. I wore nothing but rags as Eponine in Les Miserables and as Aldonza in Man of La Mancha. Believe me, playing Giulietta is really refreshing!”
Since graduating from Sydney’s Nepean College of Advanced Education 10 years ago, Jodie has packed more into her career than some performers do in two decades – lead roles in Les Miserables, Man of La Mancha and Chess. Then there was Lipstick Dreams, Glen Shorrock’s rock shows One For The Money and Two For The Show, Camelot, The Pirates Of Penzance, as well as her own one-woman show in Australia and New York. She has been a busy woman.
“People tell me I have done a great deal in 10 years but I feel I could have done more,” says Jodie. “I certainly want to do more. As soon as one thing is done, I look around the corner for what’s next.” A dramatic actress by training, Jodie finds she is being increasingly channelled into musical roles. But they are musical roles with a strong dramatic content. And the fact that she won the 1991 Variety Club Award for Best Female Theatre Performer is proof of her outstanding talent. It’s obviously no secret that commercial theatre in Australia is currently abounding with musicals – and this doesn’t surprise Jodie at all. “Musicals offer terrific value for money, a strong play, good singing, great music and spectacle all in one night. To have the same experience you would have to go to a play, a concert and a circus. Musicals also give you a lift as they take you out of yourself,” she says.
Jodie is nothing if not versatile. Having proved wonderfully successful as a solo performer, writer and director in The Other Woman, about a woman having an affair with a married man – it played to packed houses in Australia and New York – she has now completed an album of new musical show-stoppers. “It’s a collection of great songs from musicals of the past 20 years, including songs from Les Miserables, Aspects of Love and Chess. I have chosen songs from modern shows quite deliberately because I think we should be doing more to promote new works and this is my contribution.”
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