Queensland Conservatorium musical theatre graduate Shubshri Kandiah has had all of her wishes granted after winning the lead role of Princess Jasmine in Disney’s smash hit musical Aladdin.
The role will mark Shubshri’s professional musical theatre debut. The 22-year-old graduated from the Bachelor of Musical Theatre at the end of last year, and is now the star of the country’s biggest show.
She will play Princess Jasmine for the final weeks of the Brisbane run at the Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC), before wowing audiences in her hometown, Perth.
“I found out through my agent who flew to Brisbane and caught up with me over coffee. I was pouring honey into my chai when my agent broke the news and the honey just went all over the table!
“I was excited but a part of me didn’t really believe it. There are still times when I feel like its not real and I’ve now been rehearsing the role for two weeks.
“It is a dream come true to be chosen by the international creative team. They’ve shown a lot of faith in me and I will strive to give my best on stage.”
Shubshri has always been a fan of Disney’s classic movie musicals, and had a special connection to Aladdin.
“It was the first film with a princess on screen who looked like me. And now to bring that character to life on stage is an incredible experience,” she said.
“As a kid I saw Jasmine and wanted to be like her because she was a beautiful Disney princess but as an adult I really admire her strength, intelligence and that she is never afraid to voice her opinion.
“She is what I see a strong woman to be and I’m so excited to step into her shoes and learn from her.”
Shubshri began performing at a young age, learning classical Indian dance, ballet and violin. She moved across the country from Perth after being accepted into the Queensland Conservatorium’s renowned Bachelor of Musical Theatre.
During her studies, Shubshri dazzled audiences in productions like Sweet Charity and West Side Story, and was a featured vocalist with the Queensland Pops Orchestra.
Shortly before graduating last year, she performed the role of Ayah in Opera Queensland’s The Pearlfishers and was chosen to sing a duet with Broadway legend Liz Callaway at QPAC.
“My three years studying at the Queensland Conservatorium provided me with so many skills that I have taken with me,” she said.
“From voice warm-ups to script analysis, dance technique and a knowledge of vocal health that will allow me to perform eight shows a week – I felt more than prepared for a career in the industry.”
Queensland Conservatorium Head of Performing Arts, Associate Professor Paul Sabey, said Shubshri was always destined for great things.
“Her talent was evident from day one, and she has the drive and dedication to make it in the industry,” he said.
“She is a performer who is able to reach every audience member through her performance, which is a rare quality.
“The role of Jasmine is a perfect fit, and we wish her every success.”
Queensland Conservatorium Director Professor Scott Harrison said that fostering close ties with organisations like the Queensland Performing Arts Centre had opened up remarkable opportunities for students like Shubshri.
“We are fortunate to be based in the heart of Brisbane’s cultural precinct, and our relationship with organisations like QPAC mean that our students enjoy incredible opportunities to learn from industry professionals and perform alongside the world’s best artists.
“Shubshri had the opportunity to undertake workshops with Broadway legend Liz Callaway as part of our partnership with QPAC,” he said.
“She was chosen to perform a duet with Liz, and that performance put her on the radar of the Disney creative team – the rest is history!”
Fellow Queensland Conservatorium graduate Kimberley Hodgson is also in the cast of Aladdin, and will understudy Shubshri in the lead role.
Aladdin has established itself as one of the biggest new blockbusters in recent years, playing to more than six million people worldwide.
Produced by Disney Theatrical Productions (The Lion King, Mary Poppins), Aladdin features music by Tony Award and eight-time Oscar winner Alan Menken (Beauty and the Beast), lyrics by two-time Oscar winner Howard Ashman (The Little Mermaid), three-time Tony Award and three-time Oscar winner Tim Rice (Evita).