BENEATH her smiling, sequined veneer, Nadia Coote has shed blood, sweat and tears to play her dream role. The leggy blonde rumbas, waltzes and high kicks her way across stage for eight shows a week as Tina Sparkle in Strictly Ballroom The Musical and has the scars to prove it.
“There are a lot of sequins, a lot of Swarovski crystals, a lot of lifts and a lot of scratches from these costumes,” she says, singling out a bedazzling bikini shaped like pineapples as the cause of pain (pictured).
Coote, 32, grew up on Sydney’s northern beaches and fell in love with Baz Luhrmann’s 1992 film but as a child, had her heart set on playing a different character.
“If I could be anyone, I would be Fran,” she says. “But I had a growth spurt in high school so I’m a little bit too long-limbed for Fran.” Instead she set her sights on Tina Sparkle, the film role that catapulted Sonia Kruger to stardom.
“As soon as I heard rumours of a Strictly Ballroom musical, I put myself into Latin (dance) training and took classes every week for about a year-and-ahalf,” she says.
“I love dancing and acting, singing was my weaker area, so with this show being dance-oriented, I knew I was in with a chance. I’d been in London for five years, playing Penny in Dirty Dancing on the West End, and I wanted to come back to Australia with a bang.”
Coote, who joined the show for its debut Sydney season and continued to sparkle as Sparkle during its recent Melbourne run, began taking singing lessons when she was cast.
“This show is probably the most intense and physically demanding I’ve ever done. It’s also the most vocally challenging as it’s my first proper musical.”
Strictly Ballroom The Musical opens at QPAC on September 9 and marks 10 years since Coote last performed at the venue in her long-running role as Penny in Dirty Dancing.
She recently reprised the role of the dance instructor for Dirty Dancing’s Sydney season late last year.
“It was nice to get to revisit Penny again but I was ready to move on,” Coote says. “Sydney was a nice kind of finish to it all.”
Strictly Ballroom The Musical is staged by the creative team behind the film and features many of the film’s songs as well as some written by Australian artists Sia and Eddie Perfect.
Strictly Ballroom The Musical, QPAC Lyric Theatre, Sept 9-Oct 15. $50-150 qpac.com.au