She Society were excited when asked to interview real life Disney Princess, Shubshri Kandiah. Shubshri has most recently been playing and touring as Princess Jasmine in the stage production of Disney’s Aladdin. Yet, this down to earth and hard working young actor shows no signs of being a diva princess when we meet one rainy morning at Queensland Theatre. She is warm and friendly, busy rehearsing for her next role as Ismene in Antigone.
Antigone is the last play for Queensland Theatre’s 2019 season which also stars Queensland acting royalty Christen O’ Leary and well known TV and stage actor Jessica Tovey. Antigone, a Sophocles classic , has been reimagined and this epic and heartfelt season finale is a tale as old as time – with a pertinent modern twist. She Society were lucky enough to speak to the beautiful Shubshri about acting, musical theatre and travel.
Ismene only played a small role in the original version of this iconic play and she was an important complement and contrast to her sister, Antigone. Merlynn Tong has expanded the role in this adapted version. Shubshri says, “ I am almost like a chorus commenting on some of the action. I get to do lots of singing which is great because that’s what I love to do. I just love performing. “
It may seem that Shubshri is an overnight sensation. ( She scored the role of Princess Jasmine straight out of university). Yet Shubshri has been performing since she was a child.
“I have always wanted to perform but worried that it wouldn’t be a secure career. I started studying primary teaching back home in Perth , but I missed performing so much. I started applying for theatre courses and was finally offered a place studying Musical Theatre at the Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University right here in Brisbane.”
Whilst still studying Shubshri was cast in Opera Queensland’s The Pearlfishers.
“Being on the stage and performing made me sure that this was what I wanted to do. My big break was definitely Aladdin, although I didn’t receive the role until four months after I auditioned. The audition process was fun as I loved singing all of the songs. A highlight was also performing in front of family and friends in Perth. Aladdin finished here in Brisbane so that felt a bit like coming home, too.”
Shubshri is grateful for the diversity of roles being offered at the moment, especially some of the groundbreaking work at Queensland Theatre.
She says, “I loved seeing My Name is Jimi last year and more recently Fangirls with Yve Blake. Because of my Indian heritage and being a woman it’s great to see so many original plays with culturally diverse characters.”
Shubshri tells me that, “ Antigone is a classic which could be set at any time. Christen O’ Leary plays the Queen, a role which has traditionally been played by a male. I’ve learned so much working with Christen and Jess. Jess’s role of Antigone shows a young girl who stands up for what she believes in. We’ve been comparing it to modern day climate change protesters, like Greta Thunberg, in rehearsals. It’s a timeless story about a young activist woman standing up for what she believes in.”
Travel has been part of the job for Shubshri and she’s pleased to be based here in a Brisbane whilst performing in Antigone. “ I really enjoyed visiting New Zealand when Aladdin was touring. It’s such a beautiful country and somewhere I’d never been. Here in Brisbane I love exploring on my days off. I visited the Gold Coast and recently Redcliffe, which surprised me because it is so pretty.”
Shubshri is looking forward to her Mum and Dad coming over to see the show. She laughs and says, “ They’re my biggest fans. They saw a LOT of performances of Aladdin. “
Shubshri says there is no one role that she wants to play. She’s just happy to be working and doing what she loves. It will be exciting to watch the trajectory of this bright young talent. You can see Shubshri perform in Antigone at the recently refurbished and exciting Bille Brown Theatre from 26 October to 16 November.
Freelance writer, wife and mother of three sons, occasional supply teacher and aspiring romance author, Michelle Beesley can be most often found in a coffee shop chatting with friends or beside a rugby field cheering on her favourite teams.
Michelle is a prolific—albeit reluctant—traveller, keen walker, bookworm and yoga enthusiast who loves anything pink or sparkly (including champagne!).