Samantha Leigh Dodemaide: Rob Guest Endowment Finalist 2013

The much lauded Rob Guest Endowment annual concert will take place on Monday 25 November 25, where six finalists — emerging stars of Australian musical theatre — will take the stage to show their skills and compete for  a prize package that, this year, is worth around $25,000.

Samantha Dodemaide
Samantha Dodemaide

AussieTheatre’s Cassie Tongue asked ten questions of each finalist, in the lead-up to the concert, to find out about their lives, careers, and how they’re preparing for the high-calibre event.

Today we meet Samantha Leigh Dodemaide. Sam has appeared in Wicked and A Chorus Line, in which she understudied and performed the role of Cassie, as well as understudying the roles of Shelia, Diana, Maggie and Judy. Sam also appeared in A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum and most recentlywas involved In the world premiere of King Kong The Musical.

When did you know you wanted to become a performer?

I have known that I wanted to be a performer for as long as I can remember, As a little girl I dreamed of being an actress on the stage.  Like most little girls with these desires, most of my performing was done in the lounge room of my parents, grandparents, and friends…actually almost any one who would be charitable and kind enough to be serenaded with Shakespeare and show tunes.  This remained a dream for quite some time, until I graduated  from high school and started taking the steps toward making my  love of performing into my profession. However, there was never a doubt or question in my mind that performing is what I would spend the rest of my life doing.

What made you apply for the Rob Guest Endowment?

I truly believe that we can and should never stop improving and exploring our talents and craft. My hope that in 40 years I am still aiming to better myself and will not be complacent in what I have or can achieve. One of the scariest elements of improving and becoming a rounded and outstanding craftsman, I believe, is daring ourselves to step out of our comfort zone. This is one of the main reasons I first applied for the Rob Guest Endowment. I honestly did not expect to come this far in the process, but now that have, I am excited to face some fears, see what I can learn and how I grow from it.

What would becoming the recipient of the endowment mean to you?

Being a part of the final 6, is already very rewarding and I feel very honored to have had some of the industries finest believe in me and my journey. I feel that I am only at the beginning of this long, exciting yet testing voyage, so becoming the 2013 recipient would mean that this voyage  would get a great deal of encouragement. Becoming the recipient of the endowment would be the most outstanding nobility and unbelievable achievement.

How are you preparing for the upcoming concert? Any new rituals or routines?

My preparation is very standard, practice, practice, and practice. I have made sure that I have done some research and work on the characters in my two numbers. What shows they are from, who they are, why they are there, and figure out how I relate to them. Another thing I like to in preparation is make sure I don’t sing my songs the same way over and over I would like my numbers to be honest and fresh.

You’ve understudied roles in musicals like A Chorus Line. What’s your best understudy memory?

My greatest understudy memory would absolutely have to be the first time i went on as Cassie in A Chorus Line. It was a dream role to play, a character that got to really sing, dance and act equally and the role and the show both have a great amount of integrity and heart. However, this memory has a bit of a ‘boy that cried wolf’ tale to it.  My fellow cast members used to play little tricks on me and tell me I was going on (most of the time, when I was least prepared) and we would all have a laugh at how I would run around like mad trying to do my hair, make up, and get dressed all at the same time. So, we were away on tour and I decided I would have a sleep over in my girlfriend’s room. The next morning she went down to breakfast to the excited chatter….  ‘Have you heard Sam is on for Cassie?’, my girlfriend quickly replied with ‘ohhh no she doesn’t know yet, she is sound asleep’. So she obviously then came and woke me, but guess who decided that this time, that they wouldn’t fall for their tricks! ME! It took me arriving at work and seeing the cast change to believe it.

[pull_left] who says that dreams cant come true? My belief in hard work and a strong passion keep me optimistic  that our dreams can turn into a reality[/pull_left]

If you could play any role in the musical theatre canon, what would it be?

I’m not sure, one particular role? There are some amazing female roles out there to be played, and so many more, I’m sure, on their way. The main attraction for me to a role is the characters story and journey. I would like to play interesting characters, and I think the most important thing is to be able to relate to them so you can bring them to life, 8 shows a week! But if you ask me which roles I sing along to when I’m cleaning my house, I think the following characters get the greatest workout…  Millie Dilmount (Thoroughly Modern Millie), Eva Peron (Evita), Sally Bowles (Cabaret), The Witch (Into the Woods) Fantine (Les Miserables) Edith Bouvier Beale (Grey Gardens) Nikkie (Sweet Charity) Fiona (Shrek)  and Calamity Jane (Calamity Jane).

What do you enjoy most about the Australian theatre community?

Exactly that! That we are a community. Its full of  incredible and inspirational talent, as well as performers, directors and producers who care, are enthusiastic  and passionate about what we do.

Everyone has a musical they love that seems little-known or under-rated. What’s your favourite of these underdog shows?

CALAMITY JANE. It’s a beauty!!

This is a tough industry. What keeps you going?

It IS tough, at times it can be very tough. However, no matter what the circumstance, good or bad, I always remind myself that ‘everything happens for a reason’. Those few words are what keep me on my feet. When the situation is more negative, I always try to find the positive that will come from it as well as what I may learn from it. Also, who says that dreams cant come true? My belief in hard work and a strong passion keep me optimistic  that our dreams can turn into a reality.

What’s your go-to, belt-it-out-in-the-shower song?

Definitely ‘Life of the Party’ from Andrew Lippa’s The Wild Party.

The Rob Guest Endowment Gala concert will be held on Monday 25 November at the Lyric Theatre, The Star. For bookings or more information visit robguestendowment.com.au

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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