DIVA TALK: Catching Up With A Christmas Story, The Musical Star Caroline O'Connor

By Andrew Gans
07 Dec 2012

O'Connor in A Christmas Story, The Musical.
Photo by Carol Rosegg

Question: Is there any dream role that you'd like to do on Broadway?
O'Connor: It's tricky, you know. I would love to create something from scratch — that would be pretty exciting. I just did Gypsy last year in England, which I absolutely loved. That was amazing. Over the last few years, I'll be honest with you, I've started to do some of those dream roles, and I can't believe it's happening — like Mrs. Lovett, like Mama Rose and Phyllis. I'm at that age now and that stage. And, I love them. People suggest things to me, like Mame would be a good idea. I always had an inkling that I'd like to do a production of Kiss of the Spider Woman. I'm a big Kander and Ebb fan, and I think it would be something to really look at again. I think there's a wonderful play in there, and also the music I really like. Gosh, it's so hard. I kind of leave it in the lap of the gods of theatre… I believe in fate, and sometimes I think these things come about because they're meant to. There's a chance I might be doing Gypsy in Australia, which would be fun — that's maybe on the cards. Yeah, I don't know. They say you should throw it out there and maybe it will happen. Anything that you might suggest? [Laughs.]

Question: I would have loved to see your Phyllis in Follies, and your Rose.
O'Connor: I love Rose. I've been singing Rose [since I was] a kid. My mother has a tape recording of me singing Rose when I was 11 because I was so in love with Ethel Merman when I was growing up in Australia. I remember the Gypsy album was one of the first albums I was ever given — the LP — and I used to listen to it and just imagine… Because I didn't know what Broadway was. When you're nine or ten growing up in Australia, you're like, "Broadway? What does that mean? What is that?" And, when I heard her voice, I thought, "That must be what Broadway is. That's it." Because of this power, and I felt like I could imagine and see her performance in front of my eyes, even though I didn't know — apart from pictures on the album — what was happening because I was a kid. And then I got the Chorus Line album, and I went through the same process with that, and then they started buying me things like Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and My Fair Lady and all these albums because I really loved it… I'm surprised there is no Ethel Merman Theatre, actually.

O'Connor as Mama Rose

Question: It is long overdue.
O'Connor: Yeah, because, gosh, what a record she had of performances and also creating roles. She was in Call Me Madam. It's just incredible. And, I got to play her in "De-Lovely," the film — just for a split second I got to do her. I thought, "Isn't that weird?" Because I loved her so much as a child, and I got to do Ethel Merman singing "Anything Goes" on film. That was spooky to me.

Question: One last question. Since it is holiday time, I'm wondering if you have any holiday traditions or how you will be spending the holidays this year.
O'Connor: Well, we didn't really kind of celebrate Thanksgiving. Everybody at work was like, "What're you doing for Thanksgiving?" I'm like, "Well, we don't really celebrate it." I mean, we were invited to a couple of friends' places, but we had a show that night, so it would have meant going in the afternoon… I went to the Westway Diner, and I had some turkey bacon. And, I felt like I contributed a little bit to the day with a couple of friends. That was fun. And then Christmas, I've got a really good friend here in New York, and we're going to spend that with his family, but I will miss my family. My mum does a lovely Christmas with trees and lots of gifts, and it's always a nice Christmas dinner. So I shall miss that this year. I'm not always there, but she does a great Christmas, but at least I'll be around friends. I've got some friends flying in from London. Two friends from London, two friends from Australia and, as I say, my friend from New York and his family, so I think it's going to be a pretty fantastic day. We're getting the train out to Long Island because we have the day off, and we'll spend the holiday together there. Of course, I've got two shows the next day, so I've got to be a bit careful. [Laughs.]

[Visit AChristmasStorytheMusical.com.]


Well, that's all for now. Happy diva-watching! E-mail questions or comments to agans@playbill.com.