Getting to know you: Anna Magrath from The King and I

Opera Australia and John Frost’s production of The King and I opened in Brisbane last weekend, marking the professional music theatre debut of many up-and-coming performers. AussieTheatre is thrilled to be featuring a new interview series entitled Getting To Know You to introduce these new artists to their music theatre audience!

We continue our series with the youngest member of the show’s adult company, 18 year old Anna Magrath. Anna completed her training at Jason Coleman’s Ministry of Dance on a full scholarship and has since appeared as a dancer in countless corporate and commercial events across the country.

Getting to know you…

Anna Magrath
Anna Magrath

What is your role in the production?

In this production I am a part of the Female Ensemble as a dancer.

When did you know you wanted to become a performer?

Around the age of 11, I had been accepted into the Victorian Collage of the Arts Secondary School, then I realised that I could actually dance everyday for a living! From then on in, I had wanted to become a performer, first as a ballerina then that passion grew into more love for other genres of dance then further onto commercial work and musicals.

Where did you train?

For four years I studied classical ballet at the Victorian Collage of the Arts Secondary School. After year 10 at VCASS I went and trained at Jason Coleman’s Ministry of Dance Full time Course for two years and graduated last year as a scholar. I am very fortunate to have such supportive parents for letting me follow my passion and train at a full time course from a young age instead of finishing year 11 and 12 at high school. Without that support and belief I would not be where I am today.

What was your reaction when you discovered you had been cast in this show? 

Well, apparently my reaction was priceless. It was kind of a blur for me. I was at Fox Studios competing in the Australia’s Got Talent finals with a group of Ministry Dancers where I found out that I had been cast. We were in our allocated dressing room area where I had been told by my agent to check my email. When I read it an over whelming feeling of disbelief came over me, I had to sit myself down and cover my mouth whilst I gasped. A few of my friends looked at me sitting on the floor, then one person said with a lot of excitement ‘you got in, didn’t you?’ I didn’t say anything because I was a stunned rabbit and all I could do was nod, suddenly there were many cheers and not long afterwards I ran out to call my parents and there were a few tears of joy. I am not going to lie it was hard to re-focus on the performance at Australia’s Got Talent that night because I was buzzing and very happy.

Your first musical theatre job has you performing with award winning veterans of the stage and screen – Lisa McCune, Marty Rhone, Teddy Tahu Rhodes – what have you learnt from working with such an experienced cast? 

It is amazing to be working with this experienced cast because they are walking school teachers/role models. There is so much I have learned (and am yet to) learn from them. It is great to watch the principals during the rehearsal period because I love watching the development of their characters. What the audience gets to see is the end product but we – the cast – get to see the magic happen in the rehearsal room. I’m trying to absorb as much as I can not only from them but the crew and creative team behind the scenes.

The Schoolroom - Opera Australia's The King and I, Brisbane.
The Schoolroom – Opera Australia’s The King and I, Brisbane. Image by Oliver Toth

The King and I features an incredible 15 minute Jerome Robbins ballet in Act 2 – how do you keep yourself fit and ready for performance every night? 

This Jerome Robbins ballet is unlike any genre of dance that I have trained in before. Leading up to this production we have been doing boot camps. They weren’t your ordinary boot camps but Thai dance boot camps, which helped us. Also to keep fit I will be going to the gym regularly, going to dance classes and doing yoga as much as possible.

Describe the production for us in three words.

Must see show!

What has been the most exciting/memorable moment so far (rehearsals or at the theatre)? 

It would have to be the sitzprobe. A sitzprobe is the first time we go through the show with the orchestra. Five microphones were set up for the leads to sing into and the ensemble sung without microphones. I thought only the leads went up to the microphone to sing and say there lines but in the Second Act I got to stand up and say my one line in front of everyone including the orchestra. I thought it was the coolest thing, I got so excited and happy that I started to jump and cry (tears of joy) then suddenly I went red as a tomato because I couldn’t believe I cried in front of all the pros.  Afterwards I had a few people come up to me including Teddy Tahu Rhodes himself to say that it was a very cute moment to watch someone get so excited from something as simple as that and I shouldn’t get embarrassed because it is a big deal. Teddy said I will remember that moment and feeling forever. I will remember my first ever sitzprobe.

Is there anything you have learned during this contract about the music theatre (or theatre) industry, which surprised you?

Yes, one thing about the contract that surprised me was the family that we have created. Usually in other shows there is talk about how there is tensions and cliques between casts/crew members. No joke – ask anyone in this cast and everyone will say that we are one big family and everyone cares for one another.

What is your go-to ‘belt it out in the shower’ song? 

I tried to think of my go to song but honestly I don’t think I have one. So I got into the shower and the first song that popped into my head was ‘Free’ by Rudimental.

For more information about The King and I and to book tickets for Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney, visit

Check out our fantastic photo feature by Oliver Toth here

Erin James

Erin James is's former Editor in Chief and a performer on both stage and screen. Credits include My Fair Lady, South Pacific and The King and I (Opera Australia), Love Never Dies and Cats (Really Useful Group), Blood Brothers (Enda Markey Presents), A Place To Call Home (Foxtel/Channel 7) and the feature film The Little Death (written and directed by Josh Lawson).

Erin James

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