I actually can’t believe that we are nearly at my 100th post (and my first of 2014!) It seems like only yesterday that I was starting out wondering if anyone would actually want to hear what I had to say. Just over 18 months later, 31,000+ hits and here we are! Thank you to each and everyone of you that has ever read, shared or retweeted a link to my Blog – there are not enough words to say how thankful I am.
To start the celebrations early, it seemed only fitting that I should catch up with my most popular former interviewee – the stunning Anna O’Byrne. Since we last spoke, which was during her time at The Phantom of the Opera, Anna has experienced everything from the Circus, to film noir, and even some Irish singing and dancing too!
Since we last spoke, you have been involved in a number of productions – including “Barnum” at the Chichester Theatre Festival. How did it feel to be a part of such a unique production?
Barnum was a fantastic experience and a huge learning curve. Many talented people worked on the show and it was fascinating to watch everything come together. Personally, it was a thrill to work with Cameron Mackintosh and Tim Sheader as I have been a long-time admirer of the work of both!
How was your preparation for “Barnum” different to other shows that you have done previously?
It was unlike any preparation I’ve done for a show. As a company, we had several sessions of circus skills training and choreography workshop before we began rehearsals – silks, trapeze, corde lisse, acrobatics, whip-cracking, juggling… and constructing a larger-than-life ELEPHANT out of materials found in and around the studio! As you can imagine, given the physically demanding and dangerous aspects of the production, it was vital that we all developed a huge amount of trust for each other. We all had our fair share of bumps, cuts, bruises, sprains and rope burns! For most of our Barnum rehearsal period, I was still performing as Christine in The Phantom of the Opera at night, so my show-fitness was through the roof. I spent a fair bit of time in the gym working on strength and in the yoga studio working on flexibility. I sang my aria in some VERY odd positions! I certainly didn’t anticipate singing whilst balancing on the front of my hips on a trapeze, hanging 7 metres in the air from a silk, or spinning around on a rope. By far the best preparation was being open and completely receptive to anything that happened in that rehearsal room. The majority of the ideas and that came from our creative team seemed completely impossible on first hearing. Yet, days or hours later, the company would be bringing those ideas to life. Many of the things we workshopped ended up “on the cutting room floor” for various reasons, but it was incredible to see sheer human ability, strength, and willpower come to the fore time and time again. I have never worked with a more resilient, generous, talented, determined and tenacious company of people, and it was a total JOY to share a summer with them.
What was the last musical/play that you saw in the West End?
I saw The Commitments and loved it. The whole audience was up and singing along!
Which West End show (be it a play or musical) would you most like to see revived and why?
Amadeus – because it’s absolutely brilliant. What a magnificent script. I’d like to see it done with the music played and sung live by the actors.
If you could play any role in any play or musical (past or present, male or female), what would it be and why?
I’m deeply upset that I’ll probably never get to play Sweeney in Sweeney Todd! It’s probably my favourite show and the role is incredibly faceted and so challenging.
What is the one album (from any genre) you think everyone should own?
Now that’s a hard question! Perhaps a Beatles anthology?
What do you do to relax in your spare time?
I am very close to my family so I love spending time with them, with my friends and with my boyfriend. I love yoga, I love being active, and it’s fun to get out and about and explore my adopted city of London! I can often be found with my head in a book, and I love to write as well.
If you had to write a letter giving advice to your 12 year old self, what would you say?
I don’t think I would have a lot of advice for my 12 year old self – not because I don’t think I would listen, quite the opposite in fact – but because I’m enjoying where I’m at today and I think all our experiences build to us becoming the unique people that we are in the present moment.
I was very shy and a little bit serious, so I think I might tell myself to not stress over the small things. You don’t have to have it all sorted – in fact things can be much more interesting when you have no idea where you’re headed. I would also tell my 12 year old self to stay in swimming lessons! I loved swimming and wasn’t bad at it, but somehow it got sidelined by other activities. My biggest piece of advice would be to listen only to the opinions of people you respect – the rest is just noise (actually, I think I’m STILL learning this one…)
In no more than 10 words, what would you say to convince my readers to come and see “Strangers on a Train”?
It’s a film noir come to life with a fabulous cast. That’s 11 words!Anna is currently starring in Strangers on a Train at the Gielgud Theatre. For more details about the show, as well as to buy tickets, check out http://www.strangersonatrainlondon.com/home/Thank you so much to Anna for her continued kindness and grace in allowing me to interview her not once but twice! It means the world that someone as phenomenally amazing as Anna would take the time to answer my questions and thus support my little Blog – so for that, I am eternally grateful to her!Signing off for nowBlue Eyed Girl Xxx