Listen: Paulini chats to Laura & Duncan about the role of a lifetime.
Paulini Curuenavuli has come a long way since her time on Australian Idol. She has since released three albums, dabbled in television and is now about to debut in her first leading role in a stage musical—The Bodyguard.
She’ll star as Rachel Marron, the character made famous by Whitney Houston in the 1992 smash hit film.
It might be a once-in-a-lifetime role for the Fijian-born singer but the musical theatre was not always part of her dream. That all changed when she experienced her first musical.
“The first show I saw was The Lion King and from then on I just got hooked on it,” Paulini told Hope 103.2’s Laura and Duncan. “Now I watch every musical that comes to Sydney.”
Stepping into Unfamiliar Territory
Paulini may be well-known in the Australian pop music scene, but when it comes to musical theatre, it’s unfamiliar territory.
“It’s a challenge, I’m going to be doing 14 songs and there are eight shows a week. It’s something very different to what I’m used to,” she said.
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A quick calculation and you realise that’s 114 Whitney Houston performances a week. No wonder then, that her stamina and health is her main priority in preparing for the role.
“For me getting show-fit is just looking after myself and eating well, and doing a lot of training. It’s getting a lot of that done so I can do the eight [weekly] shows,” she said.
A Timeless Combination
Well-known films such as Billy Elliot and Dirty Dancing, featuring dance as a key story element have been turned into successful stage productions. So what will make The Bodyguard work on stage? It may be the combination of a classic love story teamed with timeless big ballads, says Paulini.
“It’s such a beautiful love story and it‘s an iconic movie that’s been around for years,” she said. “ The soundtrack is still one of the best-selling soundtracks of all time.”
Songs include hits like I Have Nothing, I’m Every Woman, and one of the film’s most recognised, I Will Always Love You. Originally written and performed by Dolly Parton, it reached number one on the Billboard Charts in 1974 and then again in 1992 with Whitney Houston’s movie version.
Big Shoes to Fill, But up to the Challenge
How will Paulini cope with the pressure of playing an iconic role like Whitney Houston? It’s a common question she has been asked since landing the role, but she’s up for the challenge.
“They’re big shoes to fill; hopefully we’ll make her fans proud,” Paulini said.She’s got phenomenal breathing, she can hold notes and sustain them for a long time and that is my challenge.”
Paulini has the potential to be a ‘triple threat’ performer and is open to further opportunities in television. Similar to Paulini, artists such as Jess Mauboy and Barry Conrad who have made their start on reality talent shows have also tried their hand at TV.
“I would love to, I did dabble a little bit in TV, and I did a little role on Sisters of War a few years ago. If I ever get another opportunity I would definitely jump at it.” Paulini said.