As Luisa Contini in John Deitrich’s production of Nine, Maria Mercedes established herself as one of Australia’s leading ladies with a voice that pours straight from the soul, a powerful stage presence and dramatic talent that is matched only by her exhaustive body of work. Superlatives such as ‘MERCEDES MAGIC’ and ‘MAGNIFICENT MARIA’ have been used by critics to describe her talent, time and time again.
As an actress/singer, Maria’s career has now spanned over 30 years, encompassing television, film, cabaret, concerts, recordings, stage and her big love… music theatre. For her performance in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Sunset Boulevard, Maria received critical acclaim playing the role of Norma Desmond, with the great stage director Trevor Nunn personally sending his congratulations. Maria has also starred as Grizabella in Cats, Svetlana in Chess, Sophie Lenz in Jim Sharman’s Shadow & Splendour, Mama Morton in Chicago, Miss Sherman in Fame, Liza, Barbara and Chita in the spoof Forbidden Broadway, The World Goes Around featuring the songs of Kander & Ebb, Zorba the Greek, Gypsy, The Vagina Monologues, and Seriously – Pet Shop Boys Reinterpreted, an original Australian concept by Dean Lotherington and David Knox which was performed in both Melbourne and for the Edinburgh Festival in Scotland. Maria was also the first woman in the world to play Frankenfurter in the Rocky Horror Show. Most recently, Maria played the role of Madame Giry in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s sequel to Phantom Of The Opera, Love Never Dies, which was filmed by Universal and screened worldwide before its release on DVD.
Maria’s film credits include her compelling work in the acclaimed films Dreams for Life, Head On, Patrick, and lead roles in major Australian television productions including Homicide, Division 4, Bluey, Special Squad, Cop Shop, Patrol Boat, Prisoner, Inside Running, Pugwell, Cody, E Street, Thunderstone, Whipping Boy, Neighbours and Greeks on the Roof. Most recently Maria was seen as Dora in the SBS series Kick, and as Madam Breda in Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries for the ABC.
Maria’s talents have been recognized with a Mo Award, an Aria Award for Nine – Original Australian Soundtrack, and nominations for both the Green Room Awards (winning this year for her performance in the original season of Master Class at fortyfivedownstairs) and the Sydney Theatre Critics Awards. Her role as Elena in Dreams For Life earned her a nomination for Best Actress in a Leading Role at The Cypress International Film Festival.
Maria has made guest appearances on every iconic television variety programme including Young Talent Time, New Faces, Graham Kennedy’s In Melbourne Tonight, The Don Lane Show, Good Morning Australia with Bert Newton, The Midday Show with Ray Martin and Kerrie Ann Kennerley, Bandstand, The Mike Walsh Show, Countdown, The AFI Awards and Hey Hey It’s Saturday.
Portraying Maria Callas in Terrence McNally’s Master Class fulfils Maria’s dream to honour the legacy of a personal hero and an extraordinary artist.