Suzie Mathers stars as the soon-to-be-married Sophie Sheridan in the new Australian production of Mamma Mia!. The up and coming 25-year-old took time out to speak to Danu Poyner about her role and love of musical theatre.
The majority of your co-stars are reprising their roles from the original Australian production. How does it feel to be the newcomer?
It's really good actually. When we first started rehearsals in Sydney it was a bit daunting coming into a cast that already knew the show. I had done a little bit of work on it when I got my script, but I didn't really know much, didn't really have a lot to draw on from previous experiences. But they've been fabulous. David Somerville who plays Sky is also a newcomer and they've given us both so much advice and help and were so nurturing. It's such a wonderful company, the principal and ensemble cast, we gel together so well that once the first day was over it was fine.
I heard that when the original Mamma Mia! production came out you saw it four times. Is that true?
David (Somerville) saw it four times, I saw it twice. My Mum and I were in Melbourne and we decided to see it at the Princess Theatre. The only tickets we could get were restricted view behind a pole so for the whole time we were kinda looking either side but I loved it so much that when it came to Perth I went again on my own.
Are there any other shows you'd go to see twice or even four times?
Oh I think It's each to their own. I was in Wicked before this and we had fans that came and saw the show over 100 times in its 14 month run so people do do that. I'm from Scotland originally and one of my relatives who moved here a few years ago and saw Mamma Mia! on a Saturday night, it's the first thing she'd ever seen me do and since then has booked tickets for two other shows in the next three months she's here.
What was the first thing you did when you found out you'd landed the role of Sophie?
I was still in Wicked at the time and was about to go into rehearsals for that. I knew I was getting news, but I had a bit of a scream. It was one of those things where you go to call your mum and she's not answering the phone, or you call your dad and he's not answering the phone, your best friend's not answering the phone, but you're not allowed to tell too many people because it's sort of top secret and hasn't been launched. So I kinda had a little party on my own in my apartment getting excited.
What did that involve?
(Laughs) A lot of jumping around and screaming mostly.
You have a very strong singing voice. Do you play any musical instruments as well?
I've bought a guitar since starting this show with the aim to learn. I play a little bit of piano, not enough to put on a concert or anything. But I did learn to play the saxophone when I was in high school, I was in jazz bands and such.
You've already had roles in The Good Fight, Annie Get Your Gun and Wicked. You're 26 this year. Are you feeling pleased with how life is working out so far?
It's been really good, a bit of a rollercoaster ride since I left Perth. I moved from Perth when I graduated from the WA Academy of Performing Arts. I'd love to be able to stay there with my family but there's just not enough work. I landed Wicked straight away and ended up getting this (Mamma Mia!), really surprisingly. I didn't expect to jump straight into a lead role on my second gig, so it's been a great ride.
I think I saw somewhere the last time someone asked you what you wanted to be when you grew up you said Kylie Minogue. Is that still the case?
(Laughs). Not so much now, I think I've grown up a little bit, but yeah I was an avid Kylie Minogue fan when I was young.
Do you think it's possible one day that someone when asked what they want to be when they grow up will say Suzie Mathers?
Oh we'll see what the future brings. (laughs)
Do you have a favourite part of the show?
The finale is a lot of fun, but for my own reasons I love the opening because I get to sit there and start the show. Every night when the curtain's about to go up I get those jitters and the little butterflies that come in. I still get that adrenaline rush every time the curtain's about to go up and that's how I know I'm doing something that I love.
Mamma Mia! obviously is a well known and well loved show that's been performed many times all around the world. Is there anything in your portrayal of Sophie you feel puts your stamp on the role?
I think every role that a person plays is always going to have their own personal stamp because how you interpret the script will come down to your personal experiences. I think I'm a really down-to-earth person as it is. For want of a better phrase, I'm not really a theatre person, I didn't grow up in that world. I'm quite conservative and down-to-earth and I think Sophie is like that too, she's really relaxed and doesn't have much of an ego or anything like that getting in the way so I think I bring that humbleness to the character.
And finally… What's next?
Not sure! We'll see what happens in the next year and what auditions are coming up but hopefully something is coming up next!
Mamma Mia! is currently playing at Her Majesty's Theatre, Melbourne, until May 30 2010. Further details»
Top Right - Suzie Mathers and David Somerville