Maria Mercedes is no stranger to the Australian stage. She performed Norma Desmond in the original production of Sunset Boulevard, Luisa Contini in Nine, and most recently, Madame Giry in Love Never Dies. Considering her impressive career, it’s a wonder why Mercedes resumed the role of student at a master class held earlier this year.

The master class, which was instructed by Elizabeth Kemp of the esteemed Actors Studio in New York, required participants to devise and present a character-based performance. Mercedes chose soprano Maria Callas, and received overwhelming praise for her portrayal. Fast-forward several months, and Mercedes has been asked to play Callas again, this time in Terrence McNally’s Master Class.

“It was almost a life-changing experience working with Elizabeth Kemp and to really delve so deeply into Maria’s shadows, and my own shadows as a human being,” said Mercedes. “What came out of it was an extreme understanding, but also a deep respect for Maria and what she had achieved in her time. At the end of it, Elizabeth Kemp said to me ‘you must do Master Class’.”

Master Classis based on the series of lessons delivered by Callas at the Juilliard School of Music, and is both an...