Christine Anu: The New Bloody Mary
Christine Anu, one of Australia’s most successful Indigenous performers steps into “Bloody Mary’s” shoes for the Brisbane season of South Pacific. She is the first Indigenous performer to play the role in an Australian professional production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s classic musical and gets to sing the iconic songs “Bali Hai” and “Happy Talk.”
It won’t be the first time she has done the show, having played the role of Liat, Bloody Mary’s daughter, in a school production at Emmaus College, Rockhampton, Queensland.
When asked how she felt about appearing in this pivotal role, she said she was “thrilled to have been asked to work with Opera Australia,” and considers it a “lifetime opportunity to work with the company and especially with this high-profile cast of musical theatre performers.”
She has already had two weeks of rehearsal in Melbourne shadowing Kate Cebrano (who played the ‘Bloody Mary’ part in Sydney and Melbourne), and is looking forward to full company rehearsals which start in Brisbane, December 19.
Anu originally trained in dance at NAISDA (National Islander Skills Development Association) in Sydney, and since then has built an impressive career over two decades in music, theatre, dance, film and television.
She is a multi-award winning recording artist, including ARIA Song of the Year for “My Island Home,” ARIA Best Female Artist for Stylin’ Up, and ARIA Best Video for Bazmark’s “Now Until the Break of Day” with David Hobson.
Her musical theatre credits include Little Shop of Horrors, Kissing Frogs and Rent, whilst her movies include, Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge, The Matrix Reloaded and Dating the Enemy. On television she has been seen in Playschool, with her most recent TV appearance as a judge on Channel 7s Popstars.
Anu was born in Cairns and is of Torres Strait Islander descent. Her family was culturally musical but she was the first to work professionally. She is married with two children, a son 16, and a daughter 10, and admits, “it’s hard on the family when you’re touring,” but as a performer you “have to go where the work is.” She has previously toured nationally and abroad to Vietnam, North America, China, the Middle East and Papua New Guinea.
She has many musicals on her wish list (Jesus Christ Superstar, Hair, Wicked) but she’s realistic when she says “there are not many major roles for black women.” She would dearly love to do Dreamgirls, but believes there would not be a demand for a professional production in Australia. She has however starred in Australia’s equivalent of Dreamgirls, The Sapphires. She played the role of Gail (Deborah Mailman in the film) on the second tour which played Perth, the Adelaide Festival, Melbourne, Sydney and Korea at the Daugu Musical Festival in 2010.
Anu has just finished touring a concert version of her latest album, Rewind: The Aretha Franklin Songbook, which was released in August, and prior to commencing rehearsals for South Pacific, she flicked the switch to launch Channel 34, National Indigenous Television, at Uluru (Ayers Rock) on December 12.
South Pacific also stars Teddy Tahu Rhodes as Emile de Becque, Lisa McCune as Nellie Forbush and Gyton Grantley as Luther Billis. TheBrisbane season previews from December 27, and opens January 2nd,at the Lyric Theatre, QPAC, Brisbane, playing until January 27th, 2013.