A Quick Chat With Amanda Harrison, Australia’s favourite witch

Amanda Harrison, best known for being the first Australian Elphaba in Wicked, will be celebrating her particularly witchy performing roots in a special event featuring the Sydney Symphony Orchestra on July 15 and 16.  Amanda Harrison

Witches at the Sydney Opera House will feature Harrison, Helen Dallimore (The UK’s first Glinda in Wicked), Lucy Durack (Australia’s first Glinda), Jemma Rix (Elphaba in Wicked) and Ben Lewis (the Phantom in Love Never Dies). With the SSO and conducter Kellie Dickerson, the group will sing all the witchy and mystical songs from the musical theatre canon. Expect to hear Wicked, The Witches of Eastwick, Hocus Pocus, The Wizard of Oz, Into the Woods, Love Never Dies, and a few other surprises.

We sent some questions to Amanda Harrison to get her thoughts on women, witches, Disney princesses, Wicked, and all things music theatre.

This is basically a formality – we know who you are! – but just in case: introduce yourself!

I’m Amanda Harrison. You may know me from such musical theatre productions as Wicked, We Will Rock You and An Officer and a Gentleman.

Describe your life – in five words only!

Busy, boring, hectic, dull and exciting.

The Witches
The Witches

When did you first know you wanted to be a performer?

I played Mary in the nativity play in grade 4 and I was hooked.

Most fulfilling creative job you’ve ever had?

I really enjoyed the process of rehearsing for An Officer and a Gentleman. Although the production didn’t last very long and was flawed, I loved the creative energy in the rehearsal room and the connection with the company that everyone felt during that time. It was wonderful to work on something completely new – although based on a film, but never been produced on stage before.

You’re about to star in a concert with fellow Wicked alums to sing up a witchy storm. How did the idea for this concert come about?

I believe it is the brain child of Wendy Richards and Bernadette Hayes who are producers of this concert. They came up with the idea and all four of us have jumped at the chance to perform with the SSO!

Kellie Dickerson will lead the Sydney Symphony Orchestra during this concert. Have you sung with the SSO before? What does singing with them mean to you?

I performed with the SSO with the Music Of Queen – A Rock and Symphonic Spectacular in 2014 with Michael Falzon, Mig Ayesa and Carly Thomas-Smith. It is such a magnificent experience to sing with an orchestra. Taking it all in is a challenge, because you are so nervous, but when you chill and start to listen to what’s happening, the experience can be so rewarding.

What’s your favourite memory from your time working on Wicked?

I think it was during the rehearsal period, when the MD from the US brought me into the room when all the ensemble was rehearsing the ‘Defying Gravity’ moment. It was the first time anyone had heard me sing it along with all the company. It was a chills down the spine moment.

As Glinda says in the Wizard of Oz movie, are you a good witch or a bad witch?

I think I am a good witch – in the same way that Elphaba was a good witch. In a really fierce and unforgiving way!

Are witches real?

Images of Helen Dallimore, Gemma Rix, Lucy Durack and Amanda Harrison at Kings X Music studio, recording promotions for Witches with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. Photos by Robert Catto, taken on Friday 29 April, 2016.
Images of Helen Dallimore, Gemma Rix, Lucy Durack and Amanda Harrison at Kings X Music studio, recording promotions for Witches with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.
Photos by Robert Catto, taken on Friday 29 April, 2016.

I know I am a real witch in the mornings when I’m trying to get my kids ready for school and out the door before 9am!

If you could cast just one spell, what would it be?

I would fix the Ozone Layer.

Favourite fictional witch?

Samantha from Bewitched.

What kind of songs can we expect to hear at the concert?

A fabulous mix of musical theatre, popular music and Wicked favourites!

You sang “Let it Go” in your cabaret, Up Close and Reasonably Personal, but who’s your favourite Disney princess?

Belle from Beauty and the Beast. Her dress is the best.

When you’re not on stage, what are you likely to be doing?

Cleaning up after my kids and looking at Facebook.

How do you unwind after a show?

With a cup of tea and a Butternut Snap Cookie.

Tell us something that’s on your bucket list.

A trip to Canada.

What’s the best show you’ve seen this year? (so far!)

I think it has to be Ghost. I really loved the show and thought my old mates Millsy and Jemma were an absolute highlight – not biased 🙂

What’s the most-played song in your iTunes?

My vocal warm up!

Images of Helen Dallimore, Gemma Rix, Lucy Durack and Amanda Harrison at Kings X Music studio, recording promotions for Witches with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. Photos by Robert Catto, taken on Friday 29 April, 2016.
Images of Helen Dallimore, Gemma Rix, Lucy Durack and Amanda Harrison at Kings X Music studio, recording promotions for Witches with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.
Photos by Robert Catto, taken on Friday 29 April, 2016.

If you revisit any role you’ve played before, it would be…

Donna and Oolie from City of Angels. Four shows were NOT enough to get my teeth into this role last year with Life Like Company. I loved singing ‘What You Don’t Know About Women’ with the amazing Chelsea Plumley and might’ve got used to singing in my knickers with ‘You Can Always Count On Me’!

If you could play any role at all tomorrow, it would be…

Fantine in Les Miserables. It’s the perfect amount of stage time and the perfect amount of impact!

And finally: what gets you up and out of bed in the morning?

My son – jumping on my head.

Book tickets to see Amanda and all your other favourite witches at by visiting this link

Cassie Tongue

Cassie is a theatre critic and arts writer in Sydney, and is the deputy editor of AussieTheatre. She has written for The Guardian, Time Out Sydney, Daily Review, and BroadwayWorld Australia. She is a voter for the Sydney Theatre Awards.

Cassie Tongue

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