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Donning a nun’s habit every night to play
Mother Abbess in the The Sound of Music
stage show has given Jacqui Dark strong
shoulders, an acute sense of hearing – and
also a good appreciation of the Catholic
“You cannot hear anything in it,” she
said of wearing the habit for the hit stage
musical which has just been nominated for
four Helpmann Awards.
“You put the wimple on and the veil over
that and you are basically deaf! For the
first few weeks when we had our costumes
on we were continually saying ‘pardon
me’ or ‘what?’ – we just couldn’t hear
anything,” she told The Southern Cross
during a break in her busy performance
schedule in Melbourne.
“And my neck is a bit sore too, because
it’s actually quite heavy wearing it all the
time. It does limit your physicality,” she
After more than six months of playing
the role to packed theatres in Sydney,
Brisbane and Melbourne, Jacqui said
she has come to love the Mother Abbess
“She’s so wise and kind and the person we
all should be – she does everything for the
good of other people. She’s brilliant.”
To prepare for her role, Jacqui and the
other ‘stage nuns’ visited the Benedictine
nuns at Jamberoo Abbey in NSW.
“It was a beautiful experience,” the
physicist, turned opera singer explained.
“We sang Alleluia with them in the chapel
and it was just amazing to see the hours
they spend in service, praying for the
world. Their dedication and sacrifice is
Not Catholic herself, Jacqui also received
some helpful advice about Catholic faith
and traditions from Dominica Matthews,
who plays Sister Berthe in the production.
“Dominica is Catholic and she has an
aunty who is a nun, so she was able to be
my ‘personal trainer’ in Catholicism,” she
Well known for her operatic roles with
Opera Australia, Jacqui said she loved
the opportunity to be part of such a well-
known and well-loved musical.
“People come up to me all the time and
say that it’s their favourite show and they
remember it from their childhood. It’s such
a gift of a show.”
And she admitted that despite hundreds
of rehearsals and performances, she is still
reduced to tears every time she sings the
spine-tingling “Climb Ev’ry Mountain”.
“I cry every time I sing the song. We’re
coming up to the 200th show so you
would think I would be immune to it, but it
never ceases to move me.”
The Adelaide season of The Sound of
Music will be at the Festival Theatre
from August 9 to September 2.
WIN A FAMILY PASS
for four people to the lavish London Palladium production of
The Sound of Music at the Festival Theatre, Adelaide, on August 10 at 7.30pm.
Answer the question below and send it with your name, address and day phone number to:
email@example.com or Mary Coombe, GPO Box 1468, Adelaide 5001 by Friday July 22.
Who is playing Mother Abbess in the Australian production of The Sound of Music?
The first successful entry selected randomly will be notified by phone and
tickets, valued at $400, will need to be collected from the box office.
People are often reluctant to attend school
reunions, wondering if being put under the
microscope by those who were once their peers
will be a pleasant or traumatic experience.
For Regina Blige, 60 years had passed before
she finally caught up with her former school
friends in Austria and despite some initial
apprehension, she described it as “the most
Regina and her parents and siblings emigrated
to Australia in 1955, to find a “better life” after
World War II had left its mark on her homeland.
However, despite the distance that separated
them, Regina kept in regular contact with her
former parish priest, her school teacher and a
close school friend, Ulla.
She often thought about her small village of
Altheim near Salzburg, and of course all her dear
school friends. Over the years, she received
many invitations from Ulla to attend a school
reunion, but it was only after Regina’s husband
Fred passed away in 2010 that she started giving
it serious thought.
Last year she and her son Andrew made the
trip back to Austria. They visited the cathedral
in Salzburg where Regina was confirmed and
the smaller church in Altheim where she used to
pump the bags of the pipe organ every Sunday.
Regina said she was overwhelmed by the
number of people from the village who came to
welcome her and described their “happiness and
contentment” as “contagious”.
“I can’t describe the feeling as all my friends and
people from the village rushed towards me and
embraced me – it was as though I had never left,
as if they had never forgotten me. It was a truly
wonderful feeling that I will never forget.
“Going to the reunion there was this wonderful
feeling of togetherness, of being able to be there
– God willing,” Regina said.
However, it was making eye contact with Ulla for
the first time in six decades that brought so many
memories from her childhood flooding back.
“The world stood still and it was like I went back
into the past and the book of my life opened up
in front of me. It was as though I was flicking
through things from years gone by and I could
see myself in front of the Blue Danube with Ulla –
and we were going to church.”
Regina, who is a member of Henley Beach
parish, is planning to visit Austria again – God
When time stands still
By Lindy McNamara
REUNITED: Regina Blige (right) with her school friend Ulla in Austria.
Opera star revels in Sound of Music role
BEAUTIFUL HABIT: Jacqui Dark plays Mother Abbess alongside Amy Lehpamer
who stars as Maria in The Sound of Music production at Festival Theatre.
Photo: James Morgan
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