"The role of Fran requires an actor to transform from within, expressing that transformation in terms of character, voice, and dance. Any wonder why the search for Fran went so far and wide. Phoebe weathered so many tests and hurdles, as Fran the character has to in the story of Strictly Ballroom, to reveal the true star that she is. So I am thrilled to be announcing her in this role, celebrating how resilient and strong she was through the grueling process of proving she had all that it takes, which she certainly does.”
Baz Luhrmann on casting Phoebe
Phoebe made international headlines after being handpicked by Baz Lurhmann to play the lead role of Fran in the world premiere musical adaptation of Strictly Ballroom The Musical directed by Luhrmann. She was nominated for both a Helpmann and Green Room Award for Best Female In A Musical for the role. Phoebe’s theatre credits include The Production Company’s Singing in the Rain directed by Gary Young, Connie Francis in the world premiere of Dream Lover - The Bobby Darin Musical directed by Simon Philips for the Gordon Frost Organisation, Whatsername in Green Day’s American Idiot with Shake and Stir productions, directed by Craig Ilott - this performance earned Phoebe her second Helpmann nomination for best actress in a supporting role.
Returning to The Production Company in the Australian premiere of David Bowie's Lazarus, directed by Michael Kantor, Phoebe received unanimous praise for her portrayal of the role of Elly. Mrs Fox in The Fantastic Mr Fox for Sydney Theatre Company.
In 2022 Phoebe made her London debut as Inez in Zorro - The Musical at the Charring Cross Theatre, London.
Most recently Phoebe was announced as Nancy Sinatra in the world premiere of Sinatra The Musical to be performed at the Birmingham Rep, directed by Kathleen Marshall.
"Australian star Phoebe Panaretos is a delight as Nancy. It might be Sinatra’s show, but she is the one you feel for, the one who pulls at the heartstrings, putting real emotion in her role. It is a wonderful performance and what a magical voice that lady brings to proceedings. Quiet and soft or loud and powerful it is a crystal clear pleasure.”
Roger Clarke - Behind the arras
"As Newton’s more-than-a-little-smitten assistant, Elly, Phoebe Panaretos is a revelation. Her acting, from early fluster to unhinged Mary-Lou is superb, while her vocals are astonishing. Always Crashing in the Same Car and Changes are especially remarkable. If you’re not holding your breath from how good she is in some moments, then you’re trying to catch it in others."
Australian Arts Review
ZORRO - THE MUSICAL
"Phoebe Panaretos is nothing short of sensational as Diego's paramour Inez, giving one of those rare, perfect supporting turns in which every scene and musical number she features in is elevated by her electric presence. In her mouth, the same lines of dialogue pulse with a renewed intensity and in her hands the song "Bamboléo" becomes an inextinguishable firework that really ought to be the thrilling, blood-pumping conclusion to act one."
What's on Stage - Mickey Jo Boucher
"Phoebe Panaretos, proving herself one of Australia’s most diverse music theatre performers with a rich, chameleonic voice."
STRICTLY BALLROOM - THE MUSICAL
"Relative newcomer Phoebe Panaretos is a stand out as the shy Fran (just Fran), who gains in confidence as the play progresses, from the awkward pimply beginner to the commanding lead lady, culminating in a wrenching duet.