Caroline O'Connor (actress)

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Caroline O'Connor
A close-up posed upper body shot of a woman. Her head is tilted to her left. She has short, black hair and pale blue eyes. She wears a grey/white fleecy boa/scarf over her black top. She has make up and red lipstick and sports an earring in her left ear (right ear is not visible).
BornCaroline Ann O'Connor
(1962-09-02) 2 September 1962 (age 56)
Oldham, Lancashire, England
NationalityAustralian
OccupationEntertainer
Years active1982–present
Websitecarolineoconnor.com

Caroline Ann O'Connor (born 2 September 1962) is a Helpmann Award-winning, Olivier Award-nominated Anglo-Australian singer, dancer and actress (theatre, film, TV). For her theatre work she has won three Helpmann Awards: Best Female Actor in a Play for Edith Piaf in Piaf in 2001 and the same category for Judy Garland in End of the Rainbow in 2006, and Best Female Actor in a Musical for Reno Sweeney in Anything Goes in 2015.

Early life[edit]

O'Connor was born in Oldham, Lancashire, England, to Irish parents.[1] After her family migrated to Australia she was brought up and educated in Sydney.[1] She took Irish dance lessons, with Joy Ransley and Valerie McGrath.[2] She joined a touring dance troupe by August 1974, which travelled to Ireland, Paris, London and the United States west coast.[2] The troupe's members, including O'Connor, competed in the Irish Dancing World Championships held in Dublin.[2] At the age of 15 she returned to Dublin to appear in a dance competition and finished third.[3]

O'Connor later recalled, "When I was growing up in Rockdale as a little girl of Irish parents singing show tunes I didn't really fit in. Everyone was in their denim shorts and thongs and wanting to go down to Cronulla and I wanted to stay home and listen to Doris Day."[4] At 17, she returned to London and trained as a dancer at the Royal Ballet School.[5] She worked for one year at the Australian Opera Ballet.[1][4] She became an Australian citizen in 2007.

Career[edit]

O'Connor made her musical theatre debut in an Australian tour of Oklahoma! in 1982, she later reminisced, "I was about 20 and I got into the show [and] I thought, 'This is where I'm meant to be.' I feel so fortunate."[3] In the following May she took the role of Consuelo in West Side Story at Sydney's Her Majesty's Theatre.[6] Subsequently O'Connor worked both in Australia and the United Kingdom.

Upon return to London she was a member of the ensemble cast of Me and My Girl at the Leicester Haymarket Theatre in 1984 and then at the Adelphi Theatre.[7] Other British theatre credits include, A Chorus Line,[7] Cabaret,[7] Hot Stuff, Chicago, Damn Yankees, West Side Story and as Ellie May in Showboat for the Royal Shakespeare Company and Opera North in 1989. She understudied, and went on to perform, the role of Angel in the 1988 London production of The Rink by Kander and Ebb.[7] She appeared in the UK premiere of the musical, Baby.

The entertainer returned to Australia by February 1994, where she took the role of Anita in a national tour of West Side Story, performing in Melbourne, Adelaide and Sydney and then Auckland in New Zealand.[6] She won a Green Room Award. Back in London, her West End theatre performances included Mabel in Mack and Mabel for which she received an Olivier nomination for Best Actress in a Musical in 1996.

In 1998 O'Connor was back in Australia as Velma Kelly in Chicago for which she won a Green Room Award and the Mo Award for Female Musical Theatre Performer of the Year. She followed with roles in Man of La Mancha, Oklahoma! and concert productions of Funny Girl and Mack & Mabel. Her portrayal of Édith Piaf in Pam Gems's play Piaf in 2000 gained her three Australian theatre awards.

O'Connor's musical film work includes the role of Nini Legs in the Air in Baz Luhrmann's Moulin Rouge! (2001), and Ethel Merman in the Cole Porter biopic De-Lovely (2004).[7] She featured on the De-Lovely soundtrack, singing "Anything Goes". In 2003 she made her Broadway debut as Velma Kelly in Chicago. Thereafter she performed in Australia, UK and United States.

The one-woman play, Bombshells (2004), was written especially for O'Connor by playwright, Joanna Murray-Smith.[8] The original production was filmed for a broadcast by ABC Television. Bombshells toured to the Edinburgh Festival (where she won the Fringe First Award), London's West End at the Arts Theatre (for which she received a second Laurence Olivier Award nomination), and at the World Stage Festival in Toronto, Ontario.

O'Connor starred as Judy Garland in the 2005 world premiere of Peter Quilter's play, End of the Rainbow, at the Sydney Opera House.[9] Following its Sydney and Melbourne seasons, she recorded a tribute album, A Tribute to Judy Garland,[10] and reprised her Helpmann Award winning role in Sydney at the Theatre Royal in 2006.

She starred in the premiere production of the musical The Hatpin, which opened in Sydney on 27 February 2008. In June of that year she played the title role, specifically written for her, in the premiere of David Williamson's play, Scarlett O'Hara at the Crimson Parrot, at the Melbourne Theatre Company.[11]

In March 2009 O'Connor reprised her role as Kelly in the 2009 Australian production of Chicago where she starred alongside Craig McLachlan and Gina Riley. In May 2010 she appeared as Mrs Cooper in the TV series, Lowdown. Also in that year she performed at the BBC Proms celebration of Stephen Sondheim's 80th birthday at the Royal Albert Hall.[12][13] In May 2011 she starred as Mrs Lovett in the Théâtre du Châtelet production of Sondheim's Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street in Paris,[14] with David Charles Abell as musical director. Sondheim has said that O'Connor was "the best Mrs Lovett I have ever heard."[15]

In 2012 O'Connor originated the role of Miss Shields[16] in a limited run of A Christmas Story: The Musical. It ran for 51 performances in late 2012, and received a nomination for the 2013 Best Musical Tony Award, for its track "You'll Shoot Your Eye Out",[17] featuring O'Connor, which was broadcast live on CBS during the 67th Tony Awards show on 9 June 2013.

As a recording artist O'Connor has released four solo CDs, What I Did for Love 1998), A Tribute to Piaf (2001), From Stage to Screen (2001) and A Tribute to Garland (2005). She has contributed to numerous cast recordings[18] and compilations.

From April 2017 through to March 2018 O'Connor played Countess Lily in the musical, Anastasia, at the Broadhurst Theatre on Broadway, New York. From May to June 2018 she starred in a London production of The Rink[7][19] and in mid-August she portrayed Garland in The Production Company's The Boy from Oz in Melbourne.

Personal life[edit]

As from April 2008 Caroline O'Connor was married to Barrie Shaw, a musician.[9] By May 2017 they had celebrated their 21st anniversary.[20] She has homes in Surrey and in Sydney.[7]

Awards[edit]

Discography[edit]

Solo albums
  • A Tribute to Garland[10] (2005)
  • From Stage to Screen[21] (2001)
  • A Tribute to Piaf[22] (2001)
  • What I Did for Love[23] (1998)

Performances[edit]

Stage[edit]

Year Title Role Director Notes Ref.
1983 West Side Story Consuelo Dobbs Franks Her Majesty's Theatre, Sydney, Princess Theatre [6]
1994 West Side Story Anita Ian Judge Princess Theatre, Festival Theatre [6]
Mack and Mabel – In Concert Grace Barnes State Theatre (Melbourne), State Theatre (Sydney) [6]
1995–97 West Side Story Anita Ian Judge Capitol Theatre, State Theatre (Melbourne), ASB Theatre, Auckland [6]
1998 A One Night Stand with... Gary Young State Theatre (Melbourne) [6]
Sydney Symphony Orchestra Soprano Sydney Opera House Concert Hall [6]
Chicago – The Musical Velma Kelly Walter Bobbie Her Majesty's Theatre, Melbourne [6]
1999 Chicago – The Musical Velma Kelly Walter Bobbie Capitol Theatre [6]
Funny Girl Fanny Brice Gary Young State Theatre, Melbourne [6]
2000 Chicago – The Musical Velma Kelly Walter Bobbie Lyric Theatre, Brisbane [6]
Piaf Edith Piaf Adam Cook Playhouse, Melbourne, Footbridge Theatre [6]
2017–18 Anastasia Countess Lily Malevsky-Malevitch Darko Tresnjak Hartford Stage, Hartford; Broadhurst Theatre, New York City [24][25]

References[edit]

General
Notes
  1. ^ a b c Peter Thompson (interviewer), Caroline O'Connor (interviewee) (22 November 2010). "Caroline O'Connor". Talking Heads (broadcast). Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC). This week on Talking Heads Peter Thompson is joined by one of musical theatre's biggest stars, Caroline O'Connor. Whether it's playing Judy Garland, Edith Piaf, Velma Kelly in Chicago or Nini-Legs in the Air in Moulin Rouge, O'Connor has been wowing audiences worldwide for years with her stage and screen performances.
  2. ^ a b c Hickman, Lorraine (7 August 1974). "Nothing Green About Dancers in Dublin". The Australian Women's Weekly. 42 (10). p. 29. Retrieved 10 October 2018 – via National Library of Australia. Note: includes two colour photos of the dancer.
  3. ^ a b Waterhouse, Kate (7 September 2016). "Musical theatre queen Caroline O'Connor tells how she prepares for a role". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 9 October 2018.
  4. ^ a b Ransom, Paul (2015). "Anything Goes - Caroline O'Connor". Dance Informa. Australia. Retrieved 9 October 2018.
  5. ^ Throsby, Margaret. "Caroline O'Connor". The Margaret Throsby Interview. ABC Radio National (Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC)). Retrieved 9 October 2018.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Caroline O'Connor entries at AusStage:
    • Contributor: Caroline O'Connor (1983–2016) "Contributor: Caroline O'Connor". AusStage. Retrieved 11 October 2018.
    • Event: West Side Story (19 May 1983) "West Side Story". AusStage. Retrieved 9 October 2018.
    • Event: West Side Story (19 September 1983) "West Side Story". AusStage. Retrieved 9 October 2018.
    • Event: West Side Story (19 February 1994) "West Side Story". AusStage. Retrieved 9 October 2018.
    • Event: Mack and Mabel – In Concert (22 May 1994) "Mack and Mabel – In Concert". AusStage. Retrieved 9 October 2018.
    • Event: Mack and Mabel – In Concert (29 May 1994) "Mack and Mabel – In Concert". AusStage. Retrieved 9 October 2018.
    • Event: West Side Story (25 June 1994) "West Side Story". AusStage. Retrieved 9 October 2018.
    • Event: West Side Story (25 February 1995) "West Side Story". AusStage. Retrieved 10 October 2018.
    • Event: West Side Story (13 November 1997) "West Side Story". AusStage. Retrieved 10 October 2018.
    • Event: West Side Story (14 December 1996) "West Side Story". AusStage. Retrieved 10 October 2018.
    • Event: West Side Story (8 February 1997) "West Side Story". AusStage. Retrieved 10 October 2018.
    • Event: A One Night Stand with... (1998) "A One Night Stand with". AusStage. Retrieved 11 October 2018.
    • Event: Sydney Symphony Orchestra (19 February 1998) "Sydney Symphony Orchestra". AusStage. Retrieved 11 October 2018.
    • Event: Chicago – The Musical (4 July 1998) "Chicago – The Musical". AusStage. Retrieved 11 October 2018.
    • Event: Chicago – The Musical (1999) "Chicago – The Musical". AusStage. Retrieved 12 October 2018.
    • Event: Funny Girl (30 September 1999) "Funny Girl". AusStage. Retrieved 12 October 2018.
    • Event: Chicago – The Musical (17 February 2000) "Chicago – The Musical". AusStage. Retrieved 13 October 2018.
    • Event: Piaf (13 May 2000) "Piaf". AusStage. Retrieved 13 October 2018.
    • Event: Piaf (21 June 2000) "Piaf". AusStage. Retrieved 13 October 2018.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g Shenton, Mark (21 May 2018). "Caroline O'Connor: leaving Broadway for Southwark Playhouse". The Stage. Retrieved 13 October 2018.
  8. ^ Webb, Carolyn (7 February 2004). "Caroline O'Connor comes back for more". The Age. Retrieved 13 October 2018.
  9. ^ a b staff writers (20 April 2008). "Judy Duty". Star Observer. Retrieved 9 October 2018.
  10. ^ a b O'Connor, Caroline. (2005). Caroline O'Connor – A Tribute to Garland. Sydney Opera House. Discogs. (Australia).
  11. ^ Higson, Rosalie. (3 June 2008). 'Into the Rhythm of Love'. The Australian.
  12. ^ (31 July 2010). Sondheim's 80th Birthday Celebration. BBC Proms. (United Kingdom)
  13. ^ Nice, David. (1 August 2010). “Stephen Sondheim at 80, Royal Albert Hall”. The Arts Desk. (London, UK)
  14. ^ Loomis, George. (3 May 2011). “Châtelet's 'Sweeney Todd' Stays True to Detailed Musical Roots”. The New York Times. (USA).
  15. ^ “Caroline O'Connor's Mrs Lovett - Toast of Paris”. Stage Whispers.
  16. ^ "A Christmas Story, The Musical". Playbill Vault. Retrieved 11 June 2013.
  17. ^ "You'll Shoot Your Eye Out". 67th Tony Awards. CBS Television. Retrieved 11 June 2013.
  18. ^ O'Connor, Caroline. 'Caroline O'Connor Discography'. castalbums.org.
  19. ^ Gans, Andrew. (2 February 2018). "Anastasia's Caroline O'Connor Will Star in London Revival of The Rink". Playbill. (London)
  20. ^ Burfitt, John (31 May 2017). "Caroline's at home on Broadway". WYZA. Retrieved 10 October 2018.
  21. ^ O'Connor, Caroline. (2001). Caroline O'Connor: From Stage to Screen. AllMusic. Abbey Road Studios. (London, England)
  22. ^ O'Connor, Caroline. (2000). 'A tribute to Piaf / Caroline O'Connor.' Artists Unlimited. Dewey Number: 782.14.O365 2. Sydney, Australia)
  23. ^ O'Connor, Caroline. (6 October 1998). What I Did for Love. Barcode: 605288131424. ABC Records. (USA)
  24. ^ Viagas, Robert; Hetrick, Adam (9 March 2016). "Cast Announced for Ahrens and Flaherty's Stage Anastasia". Playbill. Retrieved 13 October 2018.
  25. ^ Hetrick, Adam (6 October 2016). "Mary Beth Peil Returns for Broadway's Anastasia". Playbill. Retrieved 13 October 2018.

External links[edit]