The Fame Reporter featuring Ellen Goddard
The Fame Reporter interviewed the new rising star of musical theatre, Samantha Dodemaide.
Sam is thrilled to be playing Dorothy in her first leading role in a commercial musical in The Wizard of Oz.
Samantha’s other stage credits include the title role in Violet (Hayes Theatre Company/Blue Saint Productions) for which she was nominated for a Sydney Theatre Critics award for Best Actress in a Musical; Kathy Seldon understudy in Singin’ in the Rain (Dainty/Michael Cassel/Lunchbox/DAE); Erma and Reno understudy in Anything Goes (GFO/Opera Australia); Charity understudy in Sweet Charity (Tinderbox/Neil Gooding/Luckiest Productions); Cassie, Diana, Maggie, Sheila and Judy understudy in A Chorus Line (TML), Wicked (USJ), The Producers (The Production Company), King Kong (Global Creatures), A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum (GFO) and Anything Goes (TPC).
She has also trained with some of Australia’s finest teachers in acting, singing, voice and dialect. The talented young performer has also studied at various performing arts studios including The Atlantic Acting School (NYC), 16th Street, The Hub Studio and Patrick Studios Australia. In 2013 Samantha was the winner of the prestigious ANZ Trustees Rob Guest Endowment Award.
We talked to Sam about her career thus far in the musical theatre industry including her reaction when being cast in the iconic musical, The Wizard of Oz, what it was like rehearsing with her canine friends and more check out the interview here and check out her Wordplay video above!
Get tickets to The Wizard of Oz in which she plays the curious, Dorothy. The show is plays at the Lyric Theatre, QPAC until 3 December 2017 then travels to Sydney, Adelaide and Melbourne through to 2018.
Book your seats here – http://bit.ly/2zXd4R1
Interviewed and edited by Founder of The Fame Reporter, Ellen Goddard.
Welcome to The Fame Reporter Sam, What was it that sparked your interest in acting/musical theatre initially?
I think I always knew I wanted to act. I performed for my family when I was younger and was definitely a natural performer. However I think professionally when I really knew I wanted to be an actor was when I was in about 10th grade. I performed in a school production of ‘The Scottish Play’. I can’t say it right now because I’m in the theatre but Shakespeare’s Scottish Play (Macbeth) as the Lady of the house (Lady Macbeth). I had an amazing director and he was the one that said to me ‘you know I think you should do this professionally’ and ever since then I always knew that I could act when I took it really seriously.
How was your experience attending Patrick Studios Australia (PSA)? How did that experience affect your current career progression?
If it wasn’t for Patrick Studios Australia I absolutely would not be working professionally today. I did four years there, 3 years full time performing arts which was mainly dance based and then I did a year under the guidance of Andrew Hallsworth in his musical theatre course. Both Todd Patrick who owns the school and Andrew Hallsworth who runs the music theatre course are both the most influential, caring and supportive people I could have in my life. They guided me and taught me everything that I learnt except for skill set and also how to conduct myself in a professional manner, especially all the things I needed to know stepping into the professional world.
So I owe everything I’ve achieved to date to PSA absolutely. I started there when I was 17. It was only a 1 year course at the time but I did 3 years of the professional development. After that I went and worked in Wicked the musical at Universal Studios in Japan for a year and then I went back to study again at PSA and did the musical theatre stream.
What 5 performers dead or alive would you love to have a dinner party with and why?
To be honest I would love to have a dinner party with my current Wizard of Oz cast, I think that I’ve got some of the nicest people in showbiz in my cast, Lucy Durack, Jemma Rix, Anthony Warlow, Alex, Eli, John, they are all pretty great so I’d probably say my own cast!
Who are your musical and entertainment icons?
On my dressing room mirror which I’m sitting in front of as we speak I have photos of great leading ladies who have either inspired me with their body of work or roles that they’ve played or also have roles that have inspired me as a performer.
Of course Audra McDonald is a huge one and I was lucky enough to meet her a couple of years ago when she performed at The Opera House so I went backstage and she is just divine on and off stage. I’m also a huge Sutton Foster fan and to our very own I think we’ve got some amazing leading ladies here in Australia. Caroline O’Connor, I’m a huge fan of. I’ve covered some of my biggest idols, Caroline being one of them and Verity Hunt-Ballard I think is incredible, Esther Hannaford, we have such incredible leading women and that have inspired me.
How did you react when you were cast in the leading role of Violet in Violet and what did you like about the role?
It was a really special moment for me because it was kind of the first time someone had, let’s call it taken a chance or let me take the spotlight in a show, as I’ve mentioned I have covered and understudied quite a lot in my career, which I love and learnt so much from. But I’ve always dreamed of telling the story myself and creating the role.
Violet was really special because we created the show ourselves. A lot of times Australia is brought musicals from overseas that have already been done and they have a certain formula, even though the book and the music was created, none of the direction or the way we play the characters were. It was a really unique experience and getting to perform it in a smaller theatre like the Hayes Theatre in Sydney and Chapel off Chapel in Melbourne, also enabled the audience to have a different experience it was a lot more intimate.
I love the show so much it holds such a special place in my heart. I love the story and what it gave to not only us on stage but the audience and it was a real challenge because it was an intense story to tell. Every night I was honestly and deeply affected by the person, Violet and it was very special and I think audiences reacted in a very similar way, they came not knowing what to expect and left quite moved or learnt something, so it was great.
What was understudying Kathy from Singin’ in the Rain like and what are your thoughts on the discipline of understudying as you have done so in various shows like Sweet Charity, Anything Goes and A Chorus Line as well?
Kathy was a great role to understudy. The great thing about understudying is that sometimes you’re not in the right place or you’re not right for the role or you’re not in the right place in your life for the role, for instance covering Caroline O’Connor as Reno Sweeney, I wasn’t the right age for that but it’s definitely a role that resonates really well with me. So having the opportunity to cover that was just as good as playing the role and I had the chance to learn off the people that are playing them.
Kathy was a great role, it’s a true triple threat role and Gretel Scarlett who played it gave it so much justice. Every night what I was inspired by in Gretel was that she would give 120% every single performance and it’s so iconic as well. I grew up watching Singin’ in the Rain and it gave me shivers every time I got to rehearse ‘Good Mornin’, it took me right back to my childhood.
The discipline it takes for understudies and swings is very much overlooked I believe in our industry. I think that what they do is absolutely incredible, not only do they have to learn their own plot in the show, which is very strenuous most of the time because they are mostly dancing plots, but they also hold the responsibility on their shoulders of keeping fresh and rehearsed with their role.
They always keep an eye on someone else to see what’s happening. It takes a lot of personal time when the show’s up and running they can’t relax like everyone else, it’s really their time to get really serious and they often don’t get as much rehearsal time as the Principals do. I really love that I have covered because I have two amazing covers Zoe Ioannou and Stephanie Wall in this cast and they are both beautiful and will make the most amazing Dorothy’s. It’s really nice to have experienced that myself to know what they must be going through.
Do you have a role in any musical theatre or straight theatre piece that you are dying to embody and play?
It’s funny I used to have a huge list of dream roles and some of them have come and gone, now what I have discovered is that really the roles will find you. Yes there are roles that I have been inspired by and of course I would love to play if they came but you never know quite what the formula is going to be for that show.
So I now have a belief that the dream roles will find you and in fact I kind of played a whole bunch of them already, Cassie (A Chorus Line), Charity (Sweet Charity), Reno (Anything Goes) they are all amazing roles so now I have shifted my focus so these roles come and go,you might get cut first round in that audition and it has nothing to do with your talent or your skill it just has to do with what that show needs. Instead of focusing on the roles that I want to play I just wait for them to appear, then if it’s the right fit then it’s the right fit.
Congratulations on being the winner of the Rob Guest Endowment award! What was that experience like and what did you learn through the process?
It was the most incredible experience of my life. I would highly recommend anyone of any level to audition and go for the experience. I put it off for quite a few years because I was quite scared of it and all the things that performers go through. It’s a competition of saying ‘here I am I love what I do and I’m proud of what I can do.’ It took me a few years to build up the nerve and courage to audition and then I finally did and I remember walking out of my first audition saying to my boyfriend, Mark ‘Oh it was terrible it was awful, I’m so embarrassed’ and then I got a call-back.
I think it’s a performers second nature to have self-doubt, we appear very confident but really it’s because we love what we do so much that we want to do it the best that we can. But the whole experience was unbelievable and I learnt so much and being under the guidance of some of our industry’s finest leaders was a pretty remarkable feeling. The gala performance itself was such an honour there was 5 other co-cast members who were performing as well. I just idolise and look up to them even though they are the same age, but I think that they are just incredible.
I remember looking around on that gala night when they were about to announce the winner and I was absolutely adamant that I wasn’t going to be winning, the fact that I just did the gala performance was an achievement enough. I remember Ed Grey who was standing next to me when they announced that I won, had to kind of tap me and was like ‘It’s you’. I was so expecting it to be someone else and it took me by surprise.
The Wizard of Oz is your latest show opening in Brisbane. What was your reaction when you landed the role and how is it stepping into iconic Dorothy’s red slippers?
It was such a wonderful day I was a collection of emotions. I was excited, nervous, relieved and overjoyed. We audition a lot and there can only be one person that plays each role and they come and go where you get really close quite a few times and you try not to connect to the role too much, when you’re auditioning but when you’ve done callback after callback and you develop your own style and vision of this role because a role is just different elements of you.
So every time you don’t get a role you kind of have to let go of that and the day that I found out that I was going to be continuing with this role it was really amazing. Dorothy is absolutely a dream role but nothing that I’d really considered before the audition because of my age, that it had passed for me, but they were looking for someone I think with a bit more experience because it is quite a heavy workload.
Even though it doesn’t look it it’s quite a demanding role you have to think about lots of different things at the same time, the dog, moving parts on the set, you don’t leave the stage but it was amazing. I’d been working my butt off for a really long time and to have that acknowledged and rewarded was an incredible feeling. It just proves that if you love something enough and want it enough you just keep hanging in there and time will play it’s part.
How is this show different to others you have performed and what was the rehearsal process like?
It was very, very fast because we lost our choreographer a little early because he had to go back to the U.K so we had to get it all up on its feet in 2 weeks, which was a lot and what was different with this rehearsal process compared to others is that every morning I had to spend doing dog training for an hour.
It’s a very different show because not only am I thinking about my own performance I have to constantly check in with ‘Trouble’ our little ‘ToTo’ and make sure he’s okay and also my three other leading men Alex, Eli and John who play the Tinman, Scarecrow and the Lion. They are all in quite hot and heavy suits so you are always making sure they are doing well. The show is also very youthful and all the other shows I’ve done or roles I’ve played have been a bit more mature so I’m tapping into my childhood, it has been a different experience as well.
Lastly who or what inspires you?
Creativeness! I love being creative and I love having creative people around me and I just love being on stage. I think that inspires me more than anything. On those days where I feel tired because 8 shows a week, 6 days a week can be quite tiring but the moment the lights hit I realise that I’m living my dream and that’s really inspiring. Any day you are feeling a bit flat or sad, performing itself inspires me.
Fame Reporter speed round
Thoroughly Modern Millie
Summer or Winter?
Favourite holiday trip you’ve ever had?
Acting or Singing?
Favourite song to sing in the car?
Favourite Wizard of Oz song?
Somewhere over the rainbow
Broadway celebrity crush?
Place you most want to travel to?
New York again
Finally do you have any secret talents?
I’m pretty good at turning a rap into a musical theatre legit song
Thank you Sam for being our guest at The Fame Reporter we wish you all the best and chookas for the Australian tour of The Wizard of Oz for 2017/2018.