We catch up with recently-arrived Britni Leslie who is playing Gladys in Babirra's The Pajama Game.

TP: You've only been in Australia for a few months – how have you found the community theatre scene and are theatre people the same around the world?

BL: I have never lived in another country so when I moved across the world to be with my partner, I did think it might be hard to meet new people. However, my gut told me as soon as I booked my first show I would immediately have a new circle of friends. I just think theatre people all over the world are similar, being incredibly open, kind and generous people. I've certainly found this to be case with Babirra who has welcomed me with open arms and I am truly enjoying and grateful for this experience. However, I have found theatre terms here to be very different, it took me weeks to find out what 'chookas' meant!

TP: You have worked at Disney World, Sea World, and Universal studios – how do those high-profile jobs compare to working in community theatre?

BL: My years spent working in Orlando Florida were amazing. Growing up in the theatre community and to perform for Walt Disney World was an aspirational dream that I was fortunate enough to achieve.  Every little girl dreams of becoming a princess and I got to play dress up nearly every day. I try not to compare any jobs; paid or otherwise, professional or amateur, because to me any moment spent doing what I love on stage is rewarding enough, and each show has something to offer and something important to learn. In my personal opinion, it does not matter whether you're performing to an audience of 30 or 3000, it can be just as amazing all the same! But I must admit it has been impressive to see the community come together and get behind this great production.

TP: The Pajama Game is one of your favourite musicals – what exactly do you love about it and why?

BL: When I was a little girl my Nana would watch all the old musicals with me: Singing in the Rain, An American in Paris, Meet me in St. Louis, and, of course, The Pajama Game. Those movies continued to play over and over again in my head over the years while I grew up, so I knew I would jump at any opportunity to be a part of such a classic performance. As an adult I was re-invigorated by the revival, reminded of how many amazing songs and dances there are in the show. I love so many things about The Pajama Game … it was a musical ahead of its time. Pay attention guys – it can be pretty racy for the fifties! I really love the score – regardless of how complicated it may be. I must thank Naomi Osborne for her patience on all those lovely harmonies. And I love, love, love the Fosse-inspired choreography that Kerryn Hoernel has crafted beautifully. All-in-all its a cheesy, fun musical full of juicy characters and some amazing music. What more could you ask for in a musical?!

TP: Can you describe your approach to creating Gladys for Babirra and how do you connect with the character personally?

BL: Oh Gladys! I am having so much fun in her shoes. In past productions I have played very iconic characters that have had a distinct 'type,' however I think the role of Gladys is brilliant because she really hasn't been 'defined' and  I've had a ball creating her from scratch. Jaison Hoernel has been great to work with because he has stepped back as a director and let me influence this little bundle of energy. My approach to creating Gladys, well after reading through the script for the first time, it became clear to me that this woman knows exactly what she wants. She's that girl that all the boys want, but the boy she has her eye on, Sid (Andrew Pennycuick), falls in love with Babe (Sonia Balodis) instead! However, she does have a very jealous and over doting boyfriend, Hines (Mario Mohorko). Gladys is a massive flirt, something I can identify with for sure but hey, aren't all theatre people flirts?!

TP: What's your favourite number from the show and why?

BL: Playing the role of Gladys is great because I get to perform, in my opinion, the best numbers in the show – "Steam Heat." The Fosse choreography is deceptively hard, but the end result will undoubtedly leave you with a smile on your face. It's so much fun to dance and my two male partners definitely do not disappoint. With that said, I also love Kerryn and Jaison's interpretation of "The Jealousy Dream Ballet," it's creative and absolutely hilarious. I can't wait to perform them both on the Whitehorse Centre's stage.

TP: Tell us about your real-life pyjamas.

BL: It depends on the day I guess! I literally have drawers full of pajamas … possibly too many??? Although, Gladys sports some pretty swanky PJ's in the show that I must admit I'm a bit of a fan of…

TP: What would you do with a 7 1/2 cent pay rise?

BL: Ah jeez… can't do much with 7 1/2 cents these days … but give it to me every hour, forty hours every week, and that's enough for me to be living like a king!

The Pajama Game plays Friday, 7th October 2011Saturday, 15th October 2011. More info. here: https://www.theatrepeople.com.au/whatson/pajama-game

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