Kara Lane and The Girls from Oz
I began by asking her about her hometown.
"I grew up in Rockhampton, Central Queensland (the beef capital of Australia!). It's towards the bottom of the Great Barrier Reef and right on the Tropic of Capricorn so the temperature stays at a constant HOT all year round.
I had a very happy childhood. There's certainly a lot to say about close-knit communities. There's always support and that's something I took for granted when I first moved to London. The only downside of growing up there was that I’m a redhead with pale skin which makes that climate completely wrong for me!"
It was in with this close-knit community that Kara’s talent for music was nurtured. The local theatre played an important role in her life.
"My mother is a singing teacher and always participated in local amateur productions. She would often take me along to rehearsals, so her passion and love for the arts rubbed off onto me. I was always so proud of my mother. In my eyes, she was like an MGM movie musical starlet and I wanted to be just like her. I was very lucky because Rockhampton seemed to be this bubble of talent."
Move to London
While Rockhampton encouraged her young talent, it was London that took Kara to the next level. After studying music at Central Queensland Conservatorium of Music, Kara was given an opportunity she couldn’t refuse.
"I was only 21 when I moved over 15 years ago, so I didn't think about the consequences too much. I just knew where I wanted to get to and everything else was part of the adventure.”
“I was offered a five-month contract performing on a P&O ship but was only given four days notice to pack up my life in Australia and move to London to start rehearsals! When I arrived at Heathrow I had a hundred dollars to my name which converted to around thirty pounds. I didn't have anywhere to stay in London so I slept on a mattress on the office floor of the production company I was working for! It was all part of the adventure!”
West End Theatre
The move to London paid off, and Kara's obvious talents lead to London’s famous West End. She has performed productions such as Mary Poppins, Jesus Christ Superstar and The Sound Of Music in some of the most beautiful London theatres and toured with productions internationally.
I asked her about the key to her success.
"I am a hard worker when it comes to performing anyway - I'm a bit of a perfectionist - but moving away from your friends and family to the other side of the world and not knowing anyone on the other side is certainly an incentive for getting stuck in and making things happen," she explained.
Artistically, Kara has achieved such a great deal, and I wondered about what she saw as her proudest moment. I loved how her answer connected back to her childhood dreams.
"I certainly have a lot more I want to do but you have to look back occasionally to appreciate how far you've come,“ said Kara.
“As a kid I used to pray every night and, at the end of the prayer, I'd always ask for one thing for myself. I'd ask to one day be a leading lady in a Cameron Mackintosh musical! This might be the stagiest thing you'll ever hear but embarrassingly it’s true. I look back now and laugh about how precisely I'd worded that goal!"
"Earlier this year, when I played the role of Mrs Banks, Cameron Mackintosh said, 'I need a photo with my two leading ladies'. All of a sudden my eight-year-old self was screaming with excitement.”
The Girls from Oz
Drawing on other Australian talent in London, Kara is currently working on a project that brings Australian culture to a much wider audience. I asked her about how she devised the show.
"The Girls From Oz started off as a project simply to keep me creatively satisfied when I was in between acting work. It's hard to explain this to anyone who doesn't have the acting bug, but when I'm performing I am at my happiest. It is a part of who I am and I love it."
"The name of our group, 'The Girls From Oz', is inspired by The Boy From Oz himself, Peter Allen. Peter was another Aussie who left his family and beloved home country of Australia in search of a career in show business. Our style is glamorous and inspired by the 1930s, 40s and 50s but our songs are all novel arrangements of tunes by Australian artists such as AC/DC, Sia, Kylie, INXS and of course, Peter Allen. Somehow this just works!"
The group is proving enormously popular in London. The warmth of the Andrews Sisters-inspired glamour, the classic Australian songs, original arrangements and beautiful harmonies make for a hugely nostalgic, fun and engaging show.
Kara has plans to take the production to international audiences and she is now taking the show to the Edinburgh Festival. To help cover costs, Kara and her creative team are running an Indiegogo campaign to help them on their way. If you fancy supporting a great Australian woman who showcases Australian music in an international setting …well, now is your chance!
Finally, I asked Kara about her favourite parts of London.
“I love Regents Park. The outdoor theatre there is gorgeous and adds such atmosphere to anything you watch.”
“I also adore the Southbank, there's something different going on there all the time. If you walk from Waterloo to London Bridge via Southbank it can keep you entertained for a whole day. My favourite meet-up place is St Martin's Courtyard between Covent Garden and Leicester Square - just beautiful!”
You can learn more about learn more about the Girlz from Oz by visiting these links.
Otherwise, catch them in Edinburgh!