When Mount Victoria actress Octavia Barron Martin secured a role in the musical My Fair Lady she relished the chance to work alongside her idol, Julie Andrews.
Ms Barron Martin appears in the 60th anniversary production of the classic musical, directed by Julie Andrews, which returns to Sydney this month.
“I was just thrilled at the idea of being in a room with Julie Andrews. The first thing you think is ‘oh my God I’m going to meet Mary Poppins and Maria from the Sound of Music’,” said Ms Barron Martin, a WAAPA graduate.
Before meeting her idol, Ms Barron Martin had to endure three rounds of auditions. “It was a fight to the death to get in the room because you just wanted to work for her [Julie Andrews].”
During the audition, Ms Barron Martin experienced the proudest moment her career: “making Julie Andrews laugh”. This achievement tops her list of career highlights, including television appearances and musical performances such as Little Women.
Ms Barron Martin was eventually cast as Ms Hopkins, the town gossip, who shares characteristics to herself. “I think I am very much [my character] because she is loud and likes to be the centre of attention!” she admits.
Although similar in personality, Ms Barron Martin worked hard to master her character’s Cockney accent, during four-weeks of rehearsal. “We [the cast] would find ourselves talking in our accent offstage, just trying to practise as much as possible.”
At 37-years old Ms Barron Martin says she is proud to be a part of the iconic musical, having first caught the “musical theatre bug” during a high school production of Guys and Dolls.
“My Fair Lady is a classic…the music is beautiful and the script is beautiful.”
The show also carries timeless themes about “identity and wanting to become a better person,” says Ms Barron Martin. “I think now especially with social media…there’s this whole idea of reinventing yourself and being the best you can be, but you still need to stay true to who you are.”
Looking back, Ms Barron Martin says working with Dame Julie was “as lovely as you could have imagined it. She exceeded everyone’s dreams for grace and intelligence and artistry”.
As the show begins its last Sydney season, Ms Barron Martin is unsure about the next step in her career. However, she is grateful for the support of the Mountains community, since she moved to Mount Victoria about 10 years ago.
“The Mountains always inspire me. It’s the beauty of the mountains but also knowing there is a community of like-minded people.”
The show returns to Sydney on August 24 to Capital Theatre. “If you want something that is just beautiful and joyous and touching then come along. Bring your mum, don’t even talk about it, just do it!”
For more details: www.myfairladymusical.com.au.
The Blue Mountains Gazette has two double passes to give away to the Friday, August 25 performance of My Fair Lady at 7.30pm. Send entries to firstname.lastname@example.org (with My Fair Lady in the subject line) or post to Blue Mountains Gazette My Fair Lady Competition, PO Box 21, Springwood 2777. Entries close August 23 and must include a daytime contact number.
UPDATE: Winners of the My Fair Lady competition were Susie Herring of Katoomba and Nicole Swanson of Glenbrook.