Marina PriorMarina Prior (born 18 October 1963) is an Australian soprano and actress with a career mainly in musical theatre. From 1990 to 1993, she starred as the original Christine Daaé in the Australian premiere of The Phantom of the Opera, opposite Anthony Warlow and later Rob Guest.
Prior was born in Port Moresby in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea, Australia, where her father was working in the shipping industry. Her parents were members of the local Gilbert and Sullivan Society. The family returned to Australia when she was a young child and she grew up in Melbourne, where she attended Syndal South Primary School and Korowa Anglican Girls' School. She began to take singing lessons at the age of twelve and also learnt piano, flute and guitar.
In 1982 Prior started studying for a Bachelor of Music degree at the Melbourne State College (which later became a faculty of the University of Melbourne). To raise money, she worked in coffee shops and tried busking. In September 1983 she auditioned for the Victoria State Opera production of The Pirates of Penzance. She was cast as "Mabel" and this started her career in musical theatre. Initially she had tried out for the chorus, she reflected "When they told me it was 'Mabel' I nearly fainted ... I could not believe it ... It was like a fairy tale". She deferred her studies due to performance and "touring commitments".
In 1984 Prior was "Guinevere" in the Australian production of Camelot with Richard Harris. In 1985, she performed the dual roles of "Jellylorum" and "Griddlebone" in the Australian premiere production of Cats. In 1987, she appeared as "Josephine" opposite Paul Eddington in Gilbert and Sullivan's H.M.S. Pinafore, as "Kathy" in The Student Prince at the Lyric Opera in Brisbane and as "Hope Harcourt" in Anything Goes. This was followed by "Cosette" the Australian premiere production of Les Misérables in Melbourne and later, Sydney.
From 1990 to 1993, she starred as the original "Christine Daaé" in the Australian premiere of The Phantom of the Opera, opposite Anthony Warlow and later Rob Guest. This was followed by roles in many major productions, including "Maria" in West Side Story, "Lily" in The Secret Garden (1995), "Magnolia" in Show Boat (1998) and the title role in The Merry Widow (1999).
Other appearances include "Miss Adelaide" in Guys and Dolls (2000); the title role in Annie Get Your Gun (2004), both in staged concert versions with The Production Company; in 2003 in John Misto's play Harp on the Willow ("Mary O'Hara") at the Ensemble Theatre, Sydney; as "Jane Smart" in The Witches of Eastwick (2002); and as "Belinda Blair" in Noises Off (2003). Prior performed in the Australian premiere of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee with the Melbourne Theatre Company and later with the Sydney Theatre Company. She appeared as "Miss Adelaide" in Guys and Dolls at the Princess Theatre, Melbourne in March 2008 and with the Melbourne Theatre Company in The Hypocrite in November 2008. She reprised her role in Guys and Dolls from March 2009 in Sydney.
Prior toured Australasia in 1994 with José Carreras. She has performed concerts with many Australian symphony orchestras. She is a regular performer at Melbourne's Carols by Candlelight and regularly appears at Opera in the Alps with David Hobson. She also appeared with Hobson at Opera by the Lock in Mildura, Victoria, in 2008.
In 2011, Prior appeared as Mrs Banks in the Australian production of the musical Mary Poppins. In 2012, she performed with David Hobson and James Morrison at the Leeuwin Estate Concert Series.
Prior performed in the most recent Australian production of The Sound of Music as Baroness Schraeder. The production began its national tour in Sydney on 13 December 2015 and closed in Perth on 7 October 2016.
From May 27 to 11 June 2017, Prior played the lead role of Dolly Levi in The Production Company's production of Hello, Dolly!. She then joined the Melbourne Theatre Company's production of Hay Fever from 23 September to 1 November 2017, starring as Judith Bliss. Following the closure of this production, it was announced that Prior will join the Melbourne cast of Dream Lover as the dual role of Polly Darin and Mary Douvan. She begins performing these roles from 27 December 2017.
Television and recordingsIn the 1990s, Prior recorded three albums accompanied by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. Leading Lady, Aspects of Andrew Lloyd Webber (which reached received an ARIA nomination) and Somewhere – The Songs of Sondheim and Bernstein.
Prior was a judge on both the 2006 and 2007 Seven Network reality television series It Takes Two.
In 2012, Prior released her fourth studio album, Both Sides Now, which peaked at number 42. This was followed by Encore and Candlelight Christmas in 2013 and a live album in 2014 Marina Prior Live.
In 2015, Prior starred in the television opera The Divorce.
In April 2016, Prior released Together with Mark Vincent. This has become her first top 5 album on the ARIA Chart.
OtherPrior was appointed 1996 Queen of Moomba by the Melbourne festival's committee.
Marina Prior has been the Goodwill Ambassador for Samaritan's Purse Australia since 2005. In this capacity she has visited several development projects in Asia, including schools, water projects and distribution of Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes. In 2009 she featured in "A Short Film About Shoe Boxes" to promote Samaritan's Purse and Operation Christmas Child.
AwardsPrior has received numerous awards; these include two Mo Awards (1991, 1995), three Green Room Awards (Les Miserables in 1990, The Phantom of the Opera in 1991, and Kiss Me, Kate in 2005) and in 1993 the Advance Australia Award for her contribution to the performing arts.
She has been nominated for the Helpmann Award for Best Female Actor in a Musical three times: for The Witches of Eastwick (2003), The 25th Annual Putnum County Spelling Bee (2006) and Guys and Dolls (2008). She was also nominated for Best Female Actor in a Supporting Role in a Musical for Mary Poppins (2011).
Prior was inducted into Australia's 100 Entertainers of the Century.
From 1991 Marina Prior was married to Peter Lowrey, also a musical theatre actor: they have three children; by 2012 she had married Grant Piro, an actor.
Prior became a devout Christian in the late 1990s, she has worked for charity organisations, Samaritan's Purse (on their Operation Christmas Child) and Vision Australia's Carols by Candlelight.