Geraldine Turner is a name synonymous with Australian show business. She is currently touring Australia with her new show Turner’s Turn and has appeared most recently on stage in Ruthless, The Musical and in the cast of House Husbands on the Nine Network. Other recent stage performances include a tour of Side By Side By Sondheim, in Alana Valentine’s play MP. and White Rabbit, Red Rabbit in Canberra.
While her roles in the stage musicals Anything Goes, Chicago, Oliver, Into The Woods, Company, Cabaret, A Little Night Music, Call Me Madam and Sweeney Todd established her as an award-winning musical theatre star, Geraldine has also won enormous acclaim for her roles in plays such as Steel Magnolias, Summer of the Seventeenth Doll and Don’s Party; on television in House Husbands, Home and Away, All Saints and the films Careful He Might Hear You, Summerfield and The Wog Boy. Her extensive recording output includes the first solo Sondheim album, which gained her worldwide acclaim. Geraldine has received various Green Room Awards, Mo awards and an Order of Australia for services to the arts.
Geraldine talks to The Street ahead of her Turner’s Turn and The Chain Bridge seasons.
How did you get your start?
I worked as a child on television in Brisbane in a show called Cottees Happy Hour. Then, I worked with Borovansky Ballet Company in Sleeping Princess.
As a teen, I won the very first New Faces competition, then auditioned for the first company of actors for Queensland Theatre Company. Stayed two years, then moved to Sydney and auditioned for JCW for No No Nannette. Got a featured part and worked with Cyd Charisse and Yvonne De Carlo for 2 years.
Was there ever a point where you thought, ‘Wow, I’ve made it!’?
Never! I think if you think that you might as well give up.
What have been the big moments of your career?
There have been many highlights. Chicago, my first outright lead in a musical, playing in an all Australian hit production is hard to beat.
Recording the first Sondheim album in the world and going on to play leads in premier productions in Australia … Sweeney Todd, Company, Into The Woods, A Little Night Music etc … pretty good!
Can you tell us a bit more about TURNER’S TURN and your journey from initial idea to stage?
I chose the title as it refers to a song in Gypsy, a show I have almost played on 4 occasions! I wanted the show to be a turn of sorts, but I also wanted the show to connect the audience to me. Here I am, warts and all. I must be authentic or I may as well stay home. I believe the audience comes on this journey with me and we make the evening together. The music is fantastic and my stories are engaging. I can be a funny girl sometimes.
Is there a piece of performance advice you couldn’t live without?
Wear comfortable shoes … that’s all.
What do you wish you’d known when you started out?
Nothing! If I’d known the things I now know, I might not have leapt in with both feet all those years ago.
How do you get into the head of a new character? Talk us through the process.
I read and read the script. All the clues are there in what your character says and in what others say about you.
I don’t do acting!!!! I take it slowly, make big errors in rehearsals, build the character from the ground up.
There is nothing more wonderful than the luxury of a rehearsal period. There is time to find your role. I don’t push, but rather allow it to develop organically.
Are you superstitious? Is there a process that you always like to go through before stepping out on stage?
Yes. I like to arrive very early and stand on the empty stage. It is a sacred place. I think of all those who came before me, all those other performers. Can they help me to get there tonight?
What’s inspiring you creatively at the moment?
What are you reading and watching currently?
I watch any series set in a hospital. Don’t know why.
I am reading Richard Glover’s memoir.
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