Marina Prior

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Marina Prior
Marina Prior in 2008.JPG
Prior on New Year's Eve 2008 in Melbourne
Born (1963-10-18) 18 October 1963 (age 51)
Port Moresby, Territory of Papua and New Guinea, Australia
Occupation Actress, soprano

Marina Prior (born 18 October 1963) is an Australian soprano and actress with a career mainly in musical theatre. From 1990 to 1993, she starred as the original Christine Daaé in the Australian premiere of The Phantom of the Opera, opposite Anthony Warlow and later Rob Guest.

Early life[edit]

Prior was born in Port Moresby in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea, Australia,[1] where her father was working in the shipping industry. Her parents were members of the local Gilbert and Sullivan Society.[1] The family returned to Australia when she was a young child and she grew up in Melbourne, where she attended Syndal South Primary School and Korowa Anglican Girls' School. She began to take singing lessons at the age of twelve and also learnt piano, flute and guitar.

In 1982 Prior started studying for a Bachelor of Music degree at the Melbourne State College (which later became a faculty of the University of Melbourne).[2] To raise money, she worked in coffee shops and tried busking.[2] In September 1983 she auditioned for the Victoria State Opera production of The Pirates of Penzance. She was cast as "Mabel" and this started her career in musical theatre.[2][3] Initially she had tried out for the chorus, she reflected "When they told me it was 'Mabel' I nearly fainted ... I could not believe it ... It was like a fairy tale".[2] She deferred her studies due to performance and "touring commitments".[2]

Theatre career[edit]

In 1984 Prior was "Guinevere" in the Australian production of Camelot with Richard Harris.[3] In 1985, she performed the dual roles of "Jellylorum" and "Griddlebone" in the Australian premiere production of Cats.[3] In 1987, she appeared as "Josephine" opposite Paul Eddington in Gilbert and Sullivan's H.M.S. Pinafore, as "Kathy" in The Student Prince at the Lyric Opera in Brisbane and as "Hope Harcourt" in Anything Goes.[3] This was followed by "Cosette" the Australian premiere production of Les Misérables in Melbourne and later, Sydney.[3]

From 1990 to 1993, she starred as the original "Christine Daaé" in the Australian premiere of The Phantom of the Opera, opposite Anthony Warlow and later Rob Guest.[3] This was followed by roles in many major productions, including "Maria" in West Side Story, "Lily" in The Secret Garden (1995), "Magnolia" in Show Boat (1998) and the title role in The Merry Widow (1999).[3][4]

Other appearances include "Miss Adelaide" in Guys and Dolls (2000); the title role in Annie Get Your Gun (2004), both in staged concert versions with The Production Company;[3][5] in 2003 in John Misto's play Harp on the Willow ("Mary O'Hara") at the Ensemble Theatre, Sydney;[3][6] as "Jane Smart" in The Witches of Eastwick (2002);[3][7] and as "Belinda Blair" in Noises Off (2003).[3] Prior performed in the Australian premiere of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee with the Melbourne Theatre Company and later with the Sydney Theatre Company.[3][8] She appeared as "Miss Adelaide" in Guys and Dolls at the Princess Theatre, Melbourne in March 2008[3][9] and with the Melbourne Theatre Company in The Hypocrite in November 2008.[3][10] She reprised her role in Guys and Dolls from March 2009 in Sydney.[3]

Prior toured Australasia in 1994 with José Carreras. She has performed concerts with many Australian symphony orchestras. She is a regular performer at Melbourne's Carols by Candlelight and regularly appears at Opera in the Alps with David Hobson. She also appeared with Hobson at "Opera by the Lock" in Mildura, Victoria, in 2008.[11]

In 2011, Prior appeared as Mrs Banks in the Australian production of the musical Mary Poppins.[3] In 2012, she performed with David Hobson and James Morrison at the Leeuwin Estate Concert Series.[3]

Television, recording, awards[edit]

Prior has been a judge on both the 2006 and 2007 Seven Network reality television series It Takes Two.[12] She was inducted into Australia's 100 Entertainers of the Century.[13]

Prior has received numerous awards; these include two Mo Awards (1991, 1995),[14][15] two Green Room Awards (1989 and 1990) and in 1993 the Advance Australia Award for her contribution to the performing arts.



  • Leading Lady (1991)
  • Aspects of Andrew Lloyd Webber (1992)
  • Somewhere – The Songs of Sondheim and Bernstein (1994)
  • Both Sides Now (2013)
  • Candlelight Christmas (2013)
  • Encore (2013)

Cast recordings[edit]


Prior was appointed 1996 Queen of Moomba by the Melbourne festival's committee.[16]

Marina Prior has been the Goodwill Ambassador for Samaritan's Purse Australia since 2005. In this capacity she has visited several development projects in Asia, including schools, water projects and distribution of Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes.[17] In 2009 she featured in "A Short Film About Shoe Boxes" to promote Samaritan's Purse and Operation Christmas Child.[18]

Personal life[edit]

From 1991 Marina Prior was married to Peter Lowrey, also a musical theatre actor: they have three children;[19] by 2012 she had married Grant Piro, an actor.[20]

Prior became a devout Christian in the late 1990s, she has worked for charity organisations, Samaritan's Purse (on their Operation Christmas Child) and Vision Australia's Carols by Candlelight.[19][21]


  1. ^ a b Nunn, Louise (11 May 2013). "Marina Prior is Australia's leading lady". The Advertiser (News Corp Australia). Retrieved 22 October 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c d e "From busker to leading lady in two weeks". The Canberra Times (National Library of Australia). 29 September 1983. p. 7. Retrieved 21 October 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q "Contributor: Marina Prior". AusStage (Jenny Fewster). Retrieved 21 October 2014. 
  4. ^ "There's life in the old widow yet" by Frank Van Straten, The Sydney Morning Herald, 14 May 2003
  5. ^ Annie Get Your Gun (2004)
  6. ^ Harp on the Willow
  7. ^ Devilishly hard to get just right
  8. ^ Sydney Theatre Company
  9. ^ Westwood, Matthew (11 September 2007). "Musical is no gamble after dicing with dunnies". The Australian. Retrieved 11 September 2007. They will join … Marina Prior as Miss Adelaide. 
  10. ^ The Hypocrite – Cast, Melbourne Theatre Company; retrieved 1 November 2008
  11. ^ Opera by the Lock
  12. ^ Judge on It Takes Two
  13. ^ Variety Victoria
  14. ^ Mo Awards 1991
  15. ^ Mo Awards 1995
  16. ^ "Moomba: A festival for the people" by Craig Bellamy, Gordon Chisholm, Hilary Eriksen, pp. 17–22[dead link]
  17. ^ Marina Prior biography at Samaritan's Purse
  18. ^ A short film about shoe boxes – Operation Christmas Child 2009 on YouTube
  19. ^ a b "Marina Prior's roller-coaster year" by Colin Vickery, Herald Sun (21 December 2011)
  20. ^ "Stars shine for Annie premiere" by Luke Dennely, Herald Sun (27 May 2012)
  21. ^ Winfield, Shane (December 2009). "Marina Prior Making a Difference". Signs of the Times (Adventist Media Network). Retrieved 21 October 2014. 

External links[edit]