Paulini Curuenavuli, better known to Australian fans as simply Paulini, has been chosen from an extensive audition process to play the lead of Rachel Marron in the Australian production of The Bodyguard – The Musical, a role made famous by Whitney Houston in the 1992 movie. Paulini is a Fijian Australian pop singer and actress who became famous in the first season of Australian Idol. The Bodyguard is her first stage musical role.
Paulini tells Dance Informa, “I am thrilled. That moment when I got the phone call, I couldn’t believe it. Oh my gosh, I was jumping up and down with my mum. I was a mess. I am still pinching myself. We had a family celebration, and I celebrated with my management team. We couldn’t tell anyone, which was killing me.”
She calls the audition process “nerve-racking” and recalls, “I was so nervous, even though I have been on stage a million times. I haven’t auditioned in front of a panel since Idol, so I was so nervous. But that’s great because it then challenges you again. It pushes your boundaries. It makes you say, ‘I’m going to step up there, and I’m going to step out of my comfort zone.'”
Paulini talks about the challenges of rehearsing the role and acknowledges that it is a big dancing and acting part written by Oscar-nominated screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan and with choreography by British choreographer Arthur Pita (English National Opera, Royal Opera House and Young Vic).
“I will definitely be pushing myself to be a better dancer than I am at the moment,” she says. “It is something that I really want to learn more about. I want to get better at it. I am familiar with her (Houston’s) musical repertoire. I am looking forward to working on the dancing aspect of the musical and acting.”
She continues, “It is going to be hectic. I have been told that I am going to have to build up stamina for the eight shows a week. I guess the main thing for me is to get fit and healthy. I am also going to be chatting to the cast members who have been doing this longer than I have. I am thinking about my stamina and how to pace myself. On my days off, I will definitely be in bed sleeping.”
When Paulini thinks about her training and what was influential, she says she was inspired by watching and listening to other professionals. Among her favorites are “old school artists” such as Aretha Franklin, Nina Simone and Donna Summer. “I find depth in what they do,” she shares. “I am picky with artists who I listen to and watch because I know they will inspire me to become a better performer and person.”
When asked about what advice she’d give to young artists, Paulini says, “When I was younger, I always longed for people to encourage me. Most of the time, you are very doubtful of yourself. You have just got to get that faith in yourself. Preparing yourself is the most important thing. You have got to know your stuff. You can then feel like you know what you are doing. Whether they choose you or not is up to them. You know you have done your work. Preparation is a massive boost. It gives you the boost you need when you walk on.”
We are looking forward to seeing this rising star walk on to stages around Australia in 2017!
By Tamara Searle of Dance Informa.
Photo (top): Paulini will portray Rachel Marron in ‘The Bodyguard’. Photo by Daniel Boud.