Caroline O’Connor has the kind of career most performers dream of. From the theatres of Broadway and the West End, to the world’s preeminent concert stages, Caroline’s international renown shines light not only on her immense creative skills and talent, but also her passion, dedication, boundless energy and sheer hard work. She remains one of the most respected, admired and sought after triple threats internationally.
On Broadway, Caroline recently created the role of Lily Malevsky-Malevitch in the world premiere of the hit musical Anastasia (Drama League and Outer Critics Circle Award Nominee) followed by a season of The Rink in London’s Southwark Playhouse (Best Actress, Off West End awards). She is currently starring in the much anticipated Melbourne Theatre Company production of Kiss Of The Spiderwoman.
Caroline began her professional career as a ballet dancer with the Australian Opera after studying at the esteemed Royal Ballet School in London. She went on to perform extensively throughout the UK and Europe, most notably making her West End leading lady debut in 1995 as Mabel Normand in Jerry Herman’s Mack and Mabel, earning her first Laurence Olivier Award nomination for Best Actress in a Musical.
In Australia, Caroline’s credits are firmly stamped in theatrical history. Reviewing her starring role as Rose in The Production Company’s sell-out season of Gypsy, the Herald Sun wrote, “Gypsy is a star vehicle showcasing luminary Caroline O’Connor in a role that confirms her position in musical theatre royalty.” In addition to the recognition she received for her roles as Velma Kelly in Chicago (Mo Award, Green Room Award, Australian Dance Award), Anita in West Side Story (Mo Award, Green Room Award) and Aldonza in Man of La Mancha, Caroline also garnered accolades for her peerless interpreting of Edith Piaf in Piaf (Helpmann Award, Green Room Award), Judy Garland in the world premiere of End of the Rainbow (Helpmann Award, Sydney Stage Award) and Reno Sweeney in Anything Goes (Helpmann Award). She recently played Fanny Brice in Funny Girl (State Theatre, Melbourne) and created the roles of Polly/ Mary Douvan in the World Premiere of Dream Lover, the Bobby Darin Musical.
Caroline came to world attention in 2001 as tango dancing Nini Legs in the Air in Baz Luhrmann’s Academy Award winning film Moulin Rouge. In 2002, Caroline made her Broadway debut as Velma Kelly in Chicago at the Shubert Theatre. Following rave reviews, her successful season was extended, and Caroline was later invited to perform at the show’s 10th Anniversary Galas in New York and London, alongside legends Chita Rivera and Joel Grey.
The one-woman play Bombshells was commissioned by the Melbourne Theatre Company and written for Caroline by award-winning playwright Joanna Murray-Smith. It played seasons in Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide, before touring to sell-out performances at the Edinburgh Festival, where it won the coveted Fringe First Award. It also played at the Arts Theatre in the West End, where Caroline received her second Laurence Olivier Award nomination for Best Actress in a Play. Caroline has since taken Bombshells to America and Canada and it was filmed for Australian television. In 2008, distinguished Australian playwright David Williamson penned Scarlett O’Hara at the Crimson Parrot for Caroline.
Caroline’s UK theatre credits include Life of the Party, Gypsy, Chicago, Romance Romance, West Side Story, Hot Stuff, Street Scene, Hold Tight it’s 60s Night, Budgie, Showboat, Talent, Baby, Salt of the Earth, Damn Yankees, A Chorus Line, Matador, Cabaret, Is There Life After High School, Me and My Girl and Into The Woods. In 2010 Caroline’s solo show The Showgirl Within was produced at London’s Garrick Theatre.
Her US theatre credits include Sarah Jane Moore in Assassins (Milwaukee Rep), Phyllis in Follies (Chicago Shakespeare Theatre), Bombshells (Milwaukee Rep), The Hatpin (NYMF) and her sold-out concert series The Girl from Oz at New York’s landmark jazz club, Birdland.
Caroline starred in the English National Opera’s production of On the Town, and later in Paris at the Chatelet Theatre. She also had the honour of headlining both the BBC Proms’ Hooray for Hollywood concert and Stephen Sondheim’s 80th birthday celebration at the Royal Albert Hall. Caroline became the “toast of Paris” in La Monde when she played Mrs Lovett in Sweeney Todd at the Chatelet Theatre.
Caroline has workshopped two new Broadway musicals with Woody Allen and Hal Prince, both directed by Susan Stroman, and in 2012 originated the Broadway role of Miss Shields in the Tony Award nominated A Christmas Story: The Musical at the Lunt Fontanne Theatre. She reprised the role the following year at Madison Square Garden, and went on to perform the musical’s showstopper You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out, to a televised audience of over seven million people at The 67th Annual Tony Awards at Radio City Music Hall.
In a role she seemed destined to play, Caroline was cast as Ethel Merman in the Cole Porter biopic De-Lovely, and starred in the Australian film Surviving Georgia. She portrayed Les Girls choreographer Sheila Cruz in the ABC television film Carlotta and has appeared in the cult comedy series Lowdown.
Her many concert performances worldwide include From Broadway to La Scala (Australian national tour), From Broadway with Love (Sydney City Recital Hall), Bernstein’s New York with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra (Sydney Opera House), Night of 1000 Voices Salute Kander and Ebb (Royal Albert Hall), A Tribute to the Musical (Palermo, Sicily), Hollywood Symphony (Lille, France), Charlie Chaplin’s Smile (Amsterdam) and Lincoln Center’s American Songbook, Andrew Lippa and Friends amongst many more.
Caroline has recorded four solo CDs, What I did for Love, Stage to Screen, A Tribute to Piaf and A Tribute to Garland, and has appeared on numerous cast recordings and television variety programs.