AUSTRALIAN singer Paulini laughs as she remembers using her brush as a microphone, wrapping a t-shirt around her hair to make it look "long and flowy” like Whitney Houston's, and dancing around in front of the mirror singing her idol's songs.
Fast-forward a few years and Paulini is living her childhood dream - the hair brush replaced by a microphone, the t-shirt replaced by glam costuming and make-up, and the mirror replaced by audiences paying to see her perform Whitney's role of Rachel Marron in The Bodyguard musical.
It's the first theatrical role for Paulini who we met on the first season of Australian Idol in 2003. Since then she has been releasing albums, performing across the world and writing songs for international artists.
But how does she feel about starring in a musical?
"I'm nervous about it but I feel like I can connect to it,” Paulini said.
"It's the perfect part and I love her songs and love her as an inspiration.”
The musical is based on 1992 hit film The Bodyguard which tells the story of superstar singer and actress Rachel Marron (Houston) being threatened by a stalker.
Former Secret Service agent turned bodyguard, Frank Farmer (Kevin Costner), is called in to protect Marron and after a bit of a power struggle about who's in charge, the pair fall in love.
Kevin Costner's bodyguard role is still up for grabs in the production and Paulini is just as passionate about that part as she is hers.
"I wouldn't mind if Hugh Jackman or Chris Hemsworth played the part,” she said, laughing.
"I'm hoping it's someone quite attractive.”
Paulini said she still remembered turning on the news on February 11, 2012, and hearing Whitney had died.
"For me it's like losing someone who you love, who's inspired you your whole life.
"It's a massive loss and I don't think there's ever been another singer with her tone.
"I guess I'll have to channel Whitney.”
WHERE: Lyric Theatre, QPAC.
WHEN: From July 19, 2017.
PERFORMANCE TIMES: Wednesday to Saturday 7.30pm. Matinees Wednesday 1pm, Saturday 2pm, Sunday 1pm and 6pm.
TICKETS: Tickets go on sale from Monday, November 14. Book online at www.qpac.com.au or phone 136246. For booking of group of eight or more, phone 38407466.