It’s just after midnight, and everything seems to be happening at once in Helen Dallimore’s London apartment.
It’s been a long day rehearsing for the opening of the musical Wicked, and she has returned home with a pizza for dinner, as well as begun filling the bathtub for a late-night soak.
At the same time SydneyStar Observer calls for our appointed chat, her other phone also rings. It is her co-star, Adam Garcia, but Helen is in the midst of chatting about her career-making West End role, so she doesn’t take his call.
I just switched Adam Garcia for the Star Observer, she announces with a giggle and through a mouthful of pizza. I turned him off in favour of you.
As the conversation carries on and Helen chats excitedly about her big break as Glinda the Good Witch, it becomes apparent this mayhem is just a regular part of the routine for the Sydney-born actress.
Just as she is launching into a description of how she plays Glinda as a self-obsessed Sloane Ranger private school girl, much like some of her former fellow students at SCEGGS Darlinghurst, Dallimore lets out a shriek.
Oh my God -“ my bath! she screams. I forgot to turn it off and there is now water everywhere. Actually, I forgot I put it on. Look, I am a little bit blonde myself, she confesses.
And, it has to be said, hilarious. But this is the same woman who took the London theatre scene by storm when it was announced she had won one of the starring roles in Wicked, opposite American Tony Award winner, Idina Menzel.
Dallimore, well known from her work on the Australian stage and TV, ventured to London 18 months ago. After she had endured the gruelling grind of auditions and rejections, Wicked marks Dallimore’s debut on the London stage.
Since I have been here, bugger all has happened -“ just a lot of knocking on doors, she says. I knew this was coming to London, but I didn’t expect to get a lead in a West End show, having done nothing here beforehand.
Ultimately it was cast by Americans, who didn’t know me from anyone else. I guess I got it because I was the one they saw as most right for the show.
Wicked, which has been playing on Broadway for the past three years, is a prequel to The Wizard Of Oz, telling of the early lives of the witches of Oz.
Glinda and Elphaba, who later becomes the Wicked Witch of the West, are teenage schoolgirls sharing a room at a sorcery school. Blonde Glinda is as popular as the green Elphaba is ridiculed.
But when a man (Garcia) becomes involved with both girls, it changes the paths they take as they all head to the Emerald City.
Plans for an Australian production were scuttled last year due to the multi-million-dollar cost, but the London season has already set the box office ringing. Wicked devotees have been flocking to the Apollo Victoria Theatre to see previews before the official opening on 27 September.
The reaction has been a bit like being in a Madonna concert, to be honest, Dallimore says. The audience screams and gets so passionate and it has all been a little bit bizarre. I have never been involved in anything like this before.
It is a show that is really satisfying for the audience, because not only does it have this beautiful tie-in with The Wizard Of Oz, but it also operates on other levels about politics, prejudice, the misuse of power and unconditional love.
It is also a well-constructed relationship between two women, Glinda and Elphaba. It’s easy to understand why people love it.
While landing the coveted role has propelled Dallimore into the star ranks of London’s leading ladies of theatre, she says there is one true measure of success she is hoping the show will bring her -“ to inspire a drag show.
I really hope I get my own drag act out of this, she says. I hope there is going to be some Soho drag queen doing Glinda in an act soon. The way this show is going already, I am sure it is only a matter of time -“ and probably Mardi Gras in a couple of years, too.
Wicked opens at London’s Apollo Victoria Theatre on 27 September.