Jodie Wolf

Actress and singer, Genevieve Lemon, is famous in many a household throughout Australia and Sydney Observer was lucky enough to ask her a few questions ahead of her newest show- North by Northwest.

Genevieve’s career has been a hugely successful one in both theatre and film. She grew up on the lake Narrabeen and tells me that she always wanted to be an actor, singer or vet. Her parents were both creatives, her father a director and producer of commercials, “think Stuart Wagstaff and ‘When only the best will do’- that was one of Dad’s – a lifelong non-smoker.” Her mother an actor pre-marriage who, “loved my opening nights more than anyone.” They were both, ‘very supportive,’ of her vocation.

She says that she loves her work and the people in it but describes it as ‘tough.’ Having played so many varied roles, it must be difficult to choose a favourite?

“I particularly loved doing Mrs Wilkinson in Billy Elliot the Musical, which took my family and me from Sydney and Melbourne to London’s West End,” she says.

“In film dare, I say current Oscar nominee The Power of the Dog? That was fun. Covid struck right in the middle of the shoot and we were packed off home from New Zealand. We were extremely lucky to be able to go back and get it finished. I think the kiwis would do anything for Jane (Campion), and rightly so.”

Genevieve is thrilled to be back in the theatre, as Covid-19 wrecked-havoc on so many creative projects and plans.

She tells me, “I could have cried on the first day of rehearsals I was so excited! And I’ve been incredibly lucky during Covid, with more film and telly than I’ve had in years!

“I’ve worked with Benedict Cumberbatch, Jamie Dornan, Tony Collette and a couple of newcomers called George Clooney and Julia Roberts, to name-drop a few. And now to be playing David Campbell’s mother? Heaven!”

In her latest role she plays Mrs Thornhill and ‘Others’ and I ask her if she has a particular process during rehearsals to prepare for her character work.

“Different styles of theatre demand different approaches in rehearsal. This is an adaptation of a very well-known film and the trick was to bring it to life on stage with all the charm and wit of Hitchcock’s script but with little touches of theatrical magic,” she explains.

“It all happens before your very eyes, the famous cornfield scene and Mount Rushmore. If I revealed anymore, I’d have to kill you.”

I ask her how many characters the audience should expect her to transform into during this piece.

“Well, I shouldn’t be hard to spot. Amber McMahon, Sharon Millerchip and Caroline Craig are all as big as a minute, and I’m rather a hefty lass, so I don’t think you’ll miss me. Lots of wigs, hats, moustaches and cossie changes. The wings are full of actors running like crazy to make their next entrance.”

The play is based on the 1959 spy thriller of the same name, which was directed by Alfred Hitchcock. How much Hitchcock are we to experience I enquire, or has it been completely re-imagined?

“I think the Hitchcock buffs will be satisfied with the hommage aspect, and those who aren’t familiar with the film will just enjoy the rollicking nature of the whole thing. The fact that Hitchcock always tried to perform a tiny cameo in his films? No comment!”

North By Northwest holds a mixture of everything including spies, mystery and romance. I am told that it is also a mesh of both cinema and theatre and ask Genevieve what her thoughts are around combining the two mediums.

“Cinema is suffering so much at the moment, with people streaming films instead of going into the picture palaces and live theatre has had a bloody awful time with Covid but event Theatre, such as North by Northwest, is encouraging people back. Seeing people live onstage creating a 1959 spy caper before your very eyes is just the ticket. Come and see for yourself!”

North by Northwest will play at the Lyric Theatre Sydney, until 3 April 2022.

To book tickets visit

Via Sydney Lyric Theatre