Marina Prior is one of Australia’s most well known and loved leading ladies of the stage. Her latest role has Prior not the leading lady, but instead “the other woman” caught up in a love triangle. Prior plays the Baroness in the upcoming production of The Sound of Music in Sydney this month ahead of a national tour. It’s a role Prior is really looking forward to playing.

“I really like her. I think she’s incredibly feisty and I think she’s a rather delicious hedonist,” said Prior, who is quick to explain the Baroness is not the victim in this love triangle.

“She’s not a victim at all. I actually admire the fact that she recognises the real love that is reciprocal between the Captain and Maria and she is the one that actually says ‘I’m stepping out.’ That is so generous and so gracious,” she explained.

Prior believes the Baroness does genuinely love Captain Von Trapp and feels he is “fond” of her, but ideologically they are simply not compatible. His passion for Austria to not be part of the Nazi regime is at odds with her personal view of simply not getting involved in the politics and just looking after themselves.

“Ideologically they’re just not compatible, but she really does love him. She has to, otherwise she’s a two dimensional villainess rather than a baroness … and I don’t think she is.”

It is clear Marina Prior has a great appreciation of the Baroness.

“I think she’s incredibly smart. Her husband’s died and she’s running a multi million dollar company – and this is in the 1930s! I think she’s a typical Rogers and Hammerstein well drawn character.”

Prior went on to explain, “You know, we always think of Rogers and Hammerstein as being schmultzy and sweet, but they actually always wrote about controversial things. They just write them so well ….and such beautiful music that you don’t really stop and think about it. In South Pacific they deal with race relations and a white imperialist sort of mind set. Here they’re dealing with the rise of the Nazi regime and they’re also dealing with a single woman who’s running her own stuff and there’s a controversy, a love triangle. They always deal with more sort of substantial stories than I think we tend to give them credit for in the 21st century.”

Marina Prior

Marina Prior

Prior won’t be watching the movie as part of her preparation for the role, but admits she’s seen the movie so many times she doesn’t actually need to see it again.

“I think in the movie, the studio dealt with the Baroness in a way that was reflective of the era – the 1960S – she isn’t a fully rounded character. You don’t get to see her much. She’s kept as a rather slightly more two dimensional ‘the other woman’ who doesn’t like children, whereas in the play she really tries with the kids. They just don’t like her and give her a really hard time because they love Maria. The poor thing,” shares Prior.

It’s clear during my converstaion with Marina Prior, that the Baroness will certainly not be the two dimensional character that audiences may know from the movie version.

The Sound of Music is now playing in previews in Sydney ahead of the official opening night and national tour.