License article

Entertain us: Marina Prior

You got your first guitar at the age of nine; what did you sing?

I was singing bizarre stuff. I remember at nine singing The House of the Rising Sun by the Animals about a brothel in New Orleans. [My parents] were laughing. I remember singing this Dr Hook song about getting stoned. I had no idea!

When did you first go public?

Busking! I used to sing and dance around in Bourke Street Mall. I would do Wuthering Heights by Kate Bush and then an Elizabethan love song, and then I'd do a bit of Puccini and Ella Fitzgerald. Crazy, eclectic songs. I made really good money. I may go back to it, I think.

Did young Marina really want to be a rock star?

Yeah, I did. I wanted to be Joni Mitchell. She actually was before my time, but I wasn't into the current pop music. I loved her because she also had that ethereal high voice that I could relate to. I didn't sing like Blondie or Janis Joplin. I also used to play guitar and sing in pubs and acoustic venues like folk venues. I didn't know what I was going to do, but musicals found me.


In musicals, is there a role you wish you'd played?

There's a missed opportunity. I was about to play Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady and then I was going to be six-months pregnant, which puts a funny spin on the story. And now I'm too old to play Eliza, so that's gone.

Who's been your most surprising co-star?

When I did Witches of Eastwick, I was a little nervous about working with Paul McDermott because I thought, ''Oh, wow, he's got this cynical vibe.'' And he was just delightful; we really hit it off, he was such a beautiful man and a beautiful artist. Most people - except for Richard Harris - have been magnificent.

Tell us about Richard Harris …

He was famous for being difficult, and he lived up to his reputation. I was all of 20 and he was probably about 60, and he was just a bully. He changed the plot of Camelot on opening night in front of the critics on a whim. Looking back, I smile at that - but it was rather shattering when you're 20.

You're a proud mum, how do you go watching school shows?

It's just dreadful! The shows that you go and see where you see your child, fantastic, like a genius, obviously! Then you have to sit through everybody else's kids … I just disappear very quickly through the back door.

Marina Prior's new album, Both Sides Now, is out now.