Back in 2001, X Factor judge DANNII MINOGUE stunned audiences with her performance as Esmeralda in Notre Dame de Paris at London’s Dominion Theatre. We’ve having a bit of a nostalgia trip so thought you might enjoy a read...
Dannii Minogue is a rarity. She is beautiful, confident and in control.
With a willingness to diversify and take on new challenges, she is not
scared of failure. Nor is she inexperienced at dealing with fame.
Since beginning acting at the tender age of seven in popular Australian
television series Skyways and The Sullivans, Dannii shot to fame
alongside her sister Kylie Minogue singing and dancing on the show
“Young Talent Time”
Her break into mainstream television in the UK and Europe came when she
took a role in the hugely successful soap opera “Home and Away.” It was
off the back of this show that she launched a successful pop singing
career, securing many top ten hits and awards in Australia, the UK and
Japan. Since then she has completed a sell-out tour of Grease in
Australia, performed with Earth, Wind and Fire in Japan and strutted
here stuff twice onstage at the Sydney Mardi Gras. She surprised many
when she took on the role of Lady Macbeth at the prestigious The
Edinburgh Festival, in a production where she received rave reviews.
Continuing to diversify, Dannii recently took over the role of Esmeralda
in the London musical Notre-Dame de Paris, a role formerly occupied by
another Australian starlet, Tina Arena.
In an exclusive interview, LondonTheatreDirect.com talks to Dannii
Minogue about her role in the Notre-Dame de Paris, her career, life and
LTD: Hi Dannii. Thanks so much for meeting with us. What’s like
performing as Esmeralda in Notre-Dame de Paris? What sort of experiences
have you had and how do you feel about the role?
Dannii: I wanted to take on the role because it was a challenge to me
personally and professionally. It’s a good challenge. I think people
would be surprised that I’d be in a show like this. And I really like
the story. It’s a classic story. I think it’s still something that’s
quite modern; the themes, the storylines – nothing’s changed. People
are still pretty much the same. I generally in acting pieces go for the
nasty character and I like to be the (takes on witch-like voice) Ha Ha
Ha! Wicked witch. Like the last thing I did was play Lady Macbeth, up
in the Edinburgh Festival. And in this one, I’m playing the sweet girl
who doesn’t really know what affect she’s having on other people and how
their sick and twisted love for her ends up getting her killed in the
end. It’s really really tragic… seeing the purity of Quasimodo’s love
LTD: Aw, you’re a romantic, aren’t you?
Dannii: Yes, I am!
LTD: What similarities are there between Esmeralda and Dannii?
Dannii: I think... I mean you always look for, you know, “what could be
me in this character?” and she just does what she wants to do. She
likes to see beauty in things even though there may not be beauty around
her. She likes to be a really free spirit. I’ve always felt that that’s
what I’ve done…
LTD: Is that part of being an Australian?
Dannii: Yeah, yeah. I think so, definitely. And very much an Aussie-girl
thing where she, she’s actually quite placid. You know, there’s an old
saying about step on a sleeping snake and (becomes snake) KSSSSS! And
I’m very much like that. Very much. I don’t care who it is, on what
authority, or whatever, I don’t like for things to be between right and
wrong and if you feel something is wrong, and somebody is being nasty
for no reason, it can really upset me. Those things, I really have the
similarity. And other things too about Esmeralda. She just goes about
doing her thing. She knows she’s got the power to seduce a man and to
do her thing. I like that to. Typical girl! You know that you have this
thing that you want to use sometime.
LTD: Esmeralda is quite a demanding role. How did you prepare for
Dannii: I did a lot of singing training with my singing teacher before
the auditions and then after the auditions and before starting the show.
Doing lots of very operatic vocal training because it’s a big range,
what I have to sing in the show
LTD: Was that fun, or just hard work?
Dannii: No it’s good. Everybody…It’s such a dramatic piece that it can
seem like that, but it’s a good cast, quite a young cast, For me, it’s
fun. I wouldn’t have taken it on if it wasn’t going to be fun. I’ve
got offered other West End shows before this and I didn’t want to do
them. I’m not really into musicals. This is more like a Popera.
LTD: Tell us more about Lady Macbeth, that’s another interesting
choice of roles to take on. What made you make that choice and what did
you learn from it?
Dannii: Again, I wanted to do… because it was so different and so alien
it was going to be such a challenge. I never even studied the book at
school so I was just starting from such a fresh perspective, which was
good. I don’t believe that… Shakespeare is a serious thing and it’s
quite difficult to learn but it’s not impossible as a lot of people from
the Royal Shakespearean Company (sic) would like to make you believe
because they wanna protect their own jobs and their egos and everything.
It’s not impossible to learn. Again, stories that can be told in a very
modern way and people haven’t changed. Just getting across some similar
things. She was great because she was completely evil. Completely.
And I love that. I always wanna play the nasty character. If I was in
a Disney thing, I’d be Cruella DeVille or someone like that (laughs)
LTD: It’s a long way away from Grease, which you toured Australia
Dannii: Yeah, and again, that in itself was completely different. We
had the stage in the centre and we had ten thousand people around us and
the stage revolved around. That was a big jump for me. This is another
jump in a different direction. But that was really fun! Because the
music for that is so up, you know it took us hours to calm down after
the show (laughs again) And because we were on tour, we had the big
suite in the hotel and we were like “Party!!” Going berserk! After two
and a half hours of dance- I’ve never eaten so much food in my life! I
was so thin. I’d come off the show and have a family-sized pizza… and
fries! Ha ha ha! This one, it’s hard to come down after the show, but
it’s not so difficult, because I’m not doing the dancing. It’s more
just the vocal thing. But we’re always across the road having a drink
after the show! Phew!
LTD: How do the audiences compare between here and Australia?
Dannii: I’d have to have done the same show in both places to compare,
but I think generally, British crowds are more reserved.
LTD: Are there any other West End shows you’d like to be in?
Dannii: I haven’t seen a lot of stuff because, as I said, I’m not into
the traditional musical thing. I did Grease because I grew up with that
LTD: What about Mamma Mia?
Dannii: I haven’t seen that. I’ve heard really really mixed reviews…
LTD: It’s a great show!
Dannii: OK, Now that I’m here I’m gonna take the time to see a few
LTD: How about your pop career? Have you any plans to release a new
Dannii: I’ve got half an album, and while I’m in town over the next few
months, I’ll be shopping around to record companies
LTD: Have you been watching UK’s Popstars programme on television?
Dannii: I’ve seen a couple of episodes! I love the whole thing. I’m
just your general punter. You become addicted to it. It’s a love-hate
thing…like a soap opera.
LTD: Who do you rate musically at the moment? And who would you
most like to collaborate with?
Dannii: My favourite albums at the moment are Coldplay, Travis,
Semisonic, mostly rock-based stuff. There’s a guy in Australia called
Jimmy Barnes who I’d like to collaborate with – but nobody knows who he
is over here!
LTD: Who, in your opinion, is the Queen of Pop?
Dannii: (Long pause) Madonna. It has to be really, doesn’t it?
LTD: Are you constantly aware on the industry’s emphasis on beauty
and image. Do you think it’s a bad thing?
Dannii: I’ve sort of seen it from both sides. I’ve got friends who are
models, and that’s just the way they are. They’re just incredibly
skinny.. They grew up and had a really hard time in high school as being
the geeky stick insects and being called all sorts of names. They can
find something they can do that suits them. Of course you’re gonna get
some girls that are gonna be that size and shape that are not really. I
think there’s certain things where you’ve gotta be a certain size and
shape and it’s always gonna look great on a magazine cover.
LTD: You had a massive selling calendar in 1998 full of tastefully
shot semi-nude shots of yourself. Is that something you regret now, or
something you’d do again?
Dannii: I don’t know! I tend to do things for a laugh and for the fun of
it and sometimes just a one-off thing that you wanna do. I’m not sure
if I’d do it again. I’ve not given it any thought.
LTD: Would you do Playboy?
Dannii: I’ve done Playboy in Australia, years ago.
LTD: Do you regret it?
Dannii: No. My philosophy in life is not to live in the past. I really
don’t believe in regret. You’ve got to make your decisions. That’s how
I was brought-up. You know, make your bed and lie in it! And be
confident about the decisions you’re gonna make. I mean it wasn’t
something I was pushed into doing. It was something that was offered to
me and I though, yeah, why not?
LTD: When you reach a low point in your career of life, what’s the
one thing that keeps you out there? What keeps you going?
Dannii: I love what I do. Unfortunately there’re a lot of things that
come from that. The press saying unnecessary things that you have to
deal with sometimes even if you don’t want to. I love what I do and I
don’t know what I’d be doing if I wasn’t doing it. I’d be somewhere
still involved in the music industry.
LTD: You seem to receive more than your fair share of negative
press. A recent interview with Marianne MacDonald in The Mail on Sunday
turned out to be particularly nasty because she took a dislike to you.
Do you get frustrated when people take your words out of context and
make a snap decision about you?
Dannii: There’s always gonna be people like that… who’ve written the
article before they’ve met you. I never set out to impress everyone
because you can’t. And I’m not setting out to be friends with everyone
either. I do what I do and I’m honest about it. I say “Here I am. Take
me for face value, if you like me or you don’t.” And I don’t expect
everyone to like me. There are difficult situations that you can be put
into sometimes with press and whatever their agendas are and whatever
they wanna write in their headlines to sell their paper or magazine.
Sometimes it’s pushing the limit…
LTD: Does it make you more guarded as a person?
Dannii: You’ve always gotta think about it and then you can make your
own choice. But yeah, it’s always there! Grrrrrrrr!
LTD: Is it hard when people seem more interested in probing your
break-ups or trying to find animosity between you and your sister than
they are in you and your career? Doesn’t it really p*ss you off?
Dannii: It does p*ss me off, yeah. But I guess its just part of human
nature. People just want to know. I mean I find myself looking at
magazines going “Ah! Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt got married!” and
this and that and you want to know “Are they having a baby?”…You wanna
know! And so I can’t blame people for that.
LTD: What is the biggest misconception about you?
Dannii: (Long pause) I think that people assume that, after Kylie came
over here that I just kind of followed her here and just copied the
things she was doing. What people don’t realise is that we both started
together in Australia doing the same thing. I mean Kylie does her thing
and I do mine. And we both do different things. But I think people are
starting to realise now that we are different, I think that after doing
shows like this, people will start noticing.
LTD: We know that you answer your fans’ questions on your official
website, Dannii.com. Do you use the Internet yourself?
Dannii: Not a great deal but I do shop online!
LTD: Do you enjoy pop music? Is that something that you want to
Dannii: I love pop music. I love that scene, the whole thing. I want to
be part of it. I like the fact that you can listen to a song, enjoy it,
then just throw it in the bin after a few weeks. But then there’s some
stuff that you just keep listening to. Look at The Immaculate
Collection. I’m still listening to Into The Groove! So, yeah, I’m
definitely going to keep on doing it.
LTD: What can we expect from Dannii next year?
Dannii: Ah! Who knows! Hopefully a new album. We’ll just have to wait
LondonTheatreDirect.com wish to thank Dannii for meeting us and wish her
all the best for her run in Notre-Dame de Paris.
This interview is copyright 2001 London Theatre Direct. If
quoting from this article, please ensure you include a direct link back
to the website.