Strange Land is coming to Chelsea Theatre from 26th – 28th May and I caught up with Allana O’Neill to chat about her characters and see what she would say to promote their amazing production.
Tell me about the character(s) you play and what you find to be most interesting about the role(s).
I am honoured to play Lea in our production of Strange Land. She is a young girl who is certain that there is more to life than her small town and she is determined to find out what is out there for her. She is head strong and opinionated, but also quite immature and has wild romantic notions that get her in trouble. She is compassionate and caring, she falls in love and then just as quick moves on to someone new. She cares for others more than herself and in the end, this is her greatest flaw. I don’t want to say much and give it all away, get your tickets and all will be revealed!
The most interesting part about playing this role is that I found so much of myself in Lea. I love her humour and wit, I can relate to her thoughts about seeing the world and spreading her wings. I think the hard part was to make sure I wasn’t just me on stage, that no matter how alike I may think we are, Lea is a character and is fictional. I realise I sound crazy now. I’m not I promise!
What’s your favourite part of the production?
My favourite part of the production has to be the train scene. I love the physical theatre element, I love the lyrics of the solo lines and the reactions of other passengers. Everyone can relate to an uncomfortable train journey, all arm pits and loud earphones. This train journey is different however, the awkwardness and intolerance of each other is portrayed through movement and I think it is extremely effective way of telling a story.
Is there another role that you could see yourself playing? If so, which one and why that part?
I could definitely see myself playing the role of the bosses wife! She is aggressive, drunk and loud. All character traits that I think I would be quite good at playing!
What’s been the best part of being involved on the production?
I can’t name a specific part that has made my involvement in this production so amazing, there are so many different elements I could mention. I could say the best part is the fact that everyone has an important part to play. As the main character, Lea isn’t the main focus in every scene which means there is opportunity for other characters to tell the story and have their say. As a cast, this brought us closer together as it’s not just male lead, female lead and then ensemble members that walk on and off in the background. Everyone is a character and the show could not go on without each and every person. This is interesting from an audience perspective as it’s not the same person singing or talking all the time. I could say the best part was working under the direction of Cathy Rosario and Tim Gilvin, the composer of the score. To get a chance to work with industry professionals is an amazing opportunity and as a cast we are so privileged to have such talented individuals in our company. On a selfish note, I could also say that the best part of being involved in this production is that for the first time in my performance career, I have the lead role. I am still in shock that I was trusted to lead such a diverse and gifted cast and I will be eternally grateful to have the honour to do so. Also for the first time in my training, I have the most amazing costume that isn’t dodgy looking or smelly. Quite an achievement! I loved this whole process for all the reasons above and more but most importantly this was truly a company effort, the cast is a family and Strange Land is the product of a rehearsal process filled with laughs, love, the odd fist fight and so much dedication.
What would you say to potential audience members to encourage them to come along and see you?
I would say try something new. When you go to see Cats or Guys and Dolls, you know what you’re going to see. Coming to Strange Land will be an experience you won’t forget! The unique story, the breath taking score and the cleverly written lyrics are just one element of an amazing production that you won’t want to miss out on. From a biased point of view, I’ve seen how much work has gone into this production. I could go on and on about how great it is but I’d rather you see for yourself! See an extremely talented cast bring a new story to life!
Thank you for your time, Allana – break a leg!