Paulini became a household name back in 2003 when, at 20 years of age, she finished in fourth place on the first ever season of Australian Idol, competing against Rob Mills, Shannon Noll and ultimate season winner, Guy Sebastian.
After Idol, Paulini signed a deal with Sony BMG Australia, and went to number one with her debut single ‘Angel Eyes’, holding the top spot for several weeks. Her platinum-selling debut album ‘One Determined Heart’ quickly followed suit, and the singer is, in fact, one of only 10 Australian female solo artists to have had a number one album. That was followed by a second critically-acclaimed album ‘Superwomen’, two UVMA award nominations, and further success, including on the touring front, as part of the Young Divas.
In more recent years, she’s released her album ‘Come Alive’, recorded in several cities around the world, and even penned a song for the debut album of Yoann Fréget, the inaugural winner of The Voice France.
And in October 2016, Paulini was announced as the performer chosen for the leading role of Rachel Marron in the Australian premiere season of The Bodyguard musical, opening in Sydney in April before a national tour. Written by Alexander Dinelaris and based on the 1992 box-office smash hit movie, the musical began life at London’s Adelphi Theatre in 2012, where it ran for almost two years and was nominated for four prestigious Laurence Olivier Awards. Since that time, productions have been mounted in The Netherlands, Germany, a US Tour, a UK Tour, South Korea and Canada, and now Australia is having its turn.
Theatre People had the fortune of sitting down with Paulini to discuss this next chapter of her career.
“It’s such an honour,” she said.
“I’m truly grateful for the opportunity to play a role that one of my icons from when I was a little girl played. I pretty much grew up on [Whitney Houston’s] music so, for me, this is a massive role. I’m so excited. I can’t wait to get straight into it … I really do pray and hope that I do a great job of it!”
Paulini recalled receiving the phone call from her manager in which she learnt she’d won the coveted role.
“I was jumping up and down. I started tearing up,” she said.
“It’s such a huge thing for me because I’ve never done anything like this before. This is the first time I’ve ever done a musical … I loved The Bodyguard growing up. I watched it with my two sisters. To actually think that I got the part, I still can’t believe it. I’m still pinching myself … It’s an exciting time for me.”
Paulini was recording for her album in London during the time of The Bodyguard’s West End run, and only became aware of the musical while walking passed the theatre with her manager one evening. She then attended a performance.
“At that moment, I thought, ‘Wow! If this ever comes to Australia, I am definitely going for that role,” she said.
While The Bodyguard signifies Paulini’s debut on the musical theatre stage, she’s long held those making a career in the industry in high regard.
“It’s a group of people that love what they do and give it 100% every time, and I take my hat off to each and every one of them,” she said.
“To be able to have the opportunity to do it is incredible.”
So, has performing in musical theatre been something Paulini has thought about for some time?
“I have. I’ve performed many times on different stages in front of different audiences. I’ve done a little bit of film and TV, but never anything like musical theatre. I’ve always admired it and I guess I was just looking for the right part, a part that I could relate to and that was true to me. It makes it so much easier that the songs are incredible, songs that I grew up with and songs that I still sing in my set to this day.
“It’s a win-win; I’m doing something that I have always wanted to do … and then to be able to play a role that was played by someone who I look up to musically is just a dream come true for me, it really is.”
While the film itself was a blockbuster hit, its soundtrack too went on to become a meteoric success. According to BET, as of 2012, the album had sold more than 45 million copies worldwide and remains the best-selling soundtrack of all time. Needless to say, its tracks – including I Will Always Love You, I’m Every Woman and I Have Nothing – have also taken an integral place in the back catalogue of the late Houston.
“Everybody is familiar with every song on that soundtrack,” Paulini said.
So, while her familiarity with the back catalogue won’t cause the performer any issues, acting on the musical theatre stage is brand new territory for Paulini.
“I know it’s going to be a challenge,” she told Theatre People.
“It’s eight shows a week, something that I’ve never done before. I guess, for me, the most important thing is that I’m fit and healthy and I’m going to be around so many people who have been doing it for years – the crew, the cast – and asking tips and advice off all of them, and just learning from them … learning how to build up stamina, getting a lot of rest on our rest days … All of those things will help.
“I know that the cast members will definitely help me out because they’ve been doing it for a long time and I’m pretty sure that they can direct me in the right direction. I’m looking forward to having long chats with them.”
THE BODYGUARD – SEASON DETAILS
Venue: Sydney Lyric Theatre, The Star
Season: From 21 April
Performance Times: Tues 7pm, Wed-Sat 8pm, Matinees Tues & Wed 1pm, Sat & Sun 2pm, Sun 6pm
Prices: From $69.90*
Bookings: ticketmaster.com.au or 1300 795 267, Groups 8+ call 1300 889 278
*A ticketmaster handling fee of $8.45 will be levied at purchase. A delivery fee may also apply depending on the chosen delivery method
Venue: Lyric Theatre, QPAC
Season: From 19 July
Performance Times: Wed to Sat 7.30pm, Matinees Wed 1pm, Sat 2pm, Sun 1pm & 6pm
Prices: From $69.90*
Bookings: qpac.com.au or 136 246, Groups 8+ call 07 3840 7466