A star is born

Queensland Conservatorium graduate Georgie Hopson was handpicked for her latest role by the grand dame of musical theatre, Julie Andrews.

When Georgie met Julie

The Bachelor of Musical Theatre alumnus was chosen from hundreds of young hopefuls to join the cast of Opera Australia’s My Fair Lady, directed by Dame Julie Andrews.

“I did my first audition for the show with Julie Andrews — definitely one of the highlights of my career to date,” she said.

“It was nerve-wracking, but she was so warm and supportive that she just instantly put me at ease.

“It was hands down, my best audition experience ever.”

Coming full circle

The talented triple-threat performer is one of the ensemble cast and also an understudy for the lead role of Eliza.

The role has brought the Toowoomba-born performer full circle: it was a role in her high school production of My Fair Lady that inspired her to pursue musical theatre and led her to the Queensland Conservatorium.

“I only played a small role, but I realised that I loved performing,” she said.

An amazing training ground

Georgie was one of the first graduates from the Conservatorium’s musical theatre course, and said the degree had provided an excellent foundation for a career on stage.

“I chose the Con because it was an amazing training ground for musical theatre — my time there was such a dream,” she said.

“The head of the musical theatre program, Associate Professor Paul Sabey, is a genius. He has trained many of the performers working in London’s West End and was like a father to us all.”

Since graduating in 2014, Georgie has become one of the breakout stars on the Australian musical theatre scene.

In 2015, she was one six finalists for the prestigious Rob Guest Endowment Award, and received a Matilda Theatre Award for Best Emerging Artist, for her recent work in Queensland theatre.

On home turf

My Fair Lady opens at QPAC this week after a sell-out run at the Sydney Opera House. Georgie is thrilled about bringing the show to her home state.

“I’m so excited — I can’t wait to bring the show back to my home turf,” she said.

“My friends and family will be in the audience, which makes it really special.”

Ready and waiting

During the run, Georgie will perform eight shows a week in the ensemble. As understudy to the lead, she also has to be ready to step into the spotlight at a moment’s notice.

Anna O’Byrne, who plays Eliza, is the most incredible performer with great technique and stamina, so she hasn’t had a performance off yet, but I’m ready and waiting!” she said.

“It is tough, but it keeps you on your toes.

“I practice the entire show in my living room a few nights a week to keep up my vocal stamina – my neighbours are probably very familiar with the show by now!”

All-star production

The show is directed by Dame Julie Andrews, who performed the lead role as a 21-year- old ingénue when the musical made its Broadway debut in 1956.

“Julie Andrews has been hands on every step of the way, and you can tell the theatre is her home,” Georgie said.

“She is very specific and knows exactly how to get what she wanted.

“When you see the show, you can feel the love she put into it.”

The production also features an all-star cast, including Downtown Abbey’s Charles Edwards and Aussie theatre iconslike Robyn Nevin and Reg Livermore.

“I have never been surrounded by so many incredible actors in my life — every rehearsal is like an acting masterclass,” Georgie said.

“I just love soaking it all in.

“These are the finest actors in their field — it is a privilege to watch them work.”

Success on the small screen

The young performer has also branched into TV, taking a small role in Channel Seven’s recent mini-series, Hoges.

“TV is a very different medium, and it’s something I’d like to explore further,” she said.

“Working on Hoges was an amazing experience, just seeing how a professional set and crew works.

“I had a few days on set with Justine Clarke and Josh Lawson and they were consummate professionals.

“But theatre and TV are polar opposites — it’s like classical music and pop.”

Ups and downs of life on stage

Georgie’s advice for current musical theatre students is to be proactive about chasing down opportunities and resilient enough to bounce back when things don’t go your way.

“It’s all about keeping up the momentum,” she said.

“You have to be out looking for opportunities, auditioning, and keep bouncing back from the inevitable rejections.

“You might be successful at one in every ten auditions, so you have to learn how to cope with the ups and downs.

“Sometimes you feel like you’ve hit rock bottom, and other times you are soaring.”

Despite the ups and downs of life on the stage, the young star said she couldn’t imagine doing anything else.

“It is an amazing career, and the highs are euphoric,” she said.

“The pay-off is huge — why else would you put yourself through it!”

“I get so emotional at the end of a performance.

“You realise that you have shared something with the audience — most nights I have tears in my eyes.”