Monday, 24 November 2014

Big Interview: Perry O'Dea

Perry O'Dea is currently understudying Pharoah in the UK Tour of Joseph And The Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat.

Back in October 2012, Perry was one of West End Frame’s first ever interviewees whilst still in training at Arts Ed. He went on to make his professional debut in Evita (UK Tour) before understudying Mickey in Blood Brothers (UK Tour). 

This Christmas Perry will return home to the Isle of Man to play The Cauldron in Puss In Boots (Royal Hall) and next year he will go back on the road with the new touring production of Oklahoma.

I recently caught up with Perry to discuss how he survives a ten show week in Joseph, why playing Mickey in Blood Brothers was a dream come true and what inspired him to get into musical theatre…

How is life in Joseph?
It’s fun! I’m loving it! I’ve never been part of a cast who have bonded so much. You become like a weird family because you spend so much time together. Usually you’re at the theatre from six until ten, but we’re with each other from half twelve to ten every day because of our performance schedule (Joseph has matinees on Wednesdays-Fridays and plays three shows on Saturdays). You get really close to everyone; it is like a dysfunctional family [laughs]. I have enjoyed it… but I am very tired!

What is your secret to surviving a ten show week?
Well I don’t know how I’ve done it [laughs]! You’ve got to be able to pick each other up and you’ve got to be a really good company member – have a laugh and have fun. Obviously, like with any show, you’re trying to tell a story… even though it’s a slightly wacky story [laughs]. We always have fun and try new things. 

Perry and the cast of Joseph

What have the audiences been like? You must get a lot of school trips as well as girls on nights out?
Yes, we have a lot of schools and a lot of kids. I always find it funny because we also get a lot of mums in the audience who know all the words. I think a lot of mums say they are going for the kids but are actually going just for them [laughs]. We do get a few hen parties too and the occasional wolf whistle. 

Have you enjoyed working with Lloyd Daniels, Matt Lapinskas & Danielle Hope?
They have been great! They have all been superb. This is Lloyd’s first ever musical and he’s been thrown into the deep end, but he has been an absolute gem! Danielle is amazing and Matt is hilarious – a proper jack-the-lad. 

Lloyd Daniels, Matt Lapinskas & Danielle Hope
You’ve had the chance to go on as Pharaoh a few times. Is it a fun role to play?
Yes! I did the full week in Liverpool and it was great to be in the Empire because that’s like my home theatre – the Isle Of Man has one but the Liverpool Empire was our nearest theatre in England. A lot of family and friends came which was great! It’s a really fun part to play, you’re only on for twenty minutes in act two and you’re done! I get to go on for the very end of the tour, I’m on from the 26th to the 29th November. We’re in High Wycombe so lots of London friends can come and watch which is good!

Do you have a favourite number? 
My favourite song is ‘Potiphar’ because that’s the part of the show when I know I’ve got a break! Basically from the start up until ‘Potiphar’ you don’t leave the stage, so when I’m doing ‘Potiphar’ in those weird little costumes I go, ‘Well, at least I have a break coming up!’

How do you find life on tour?
It’s good… it’s really nice seeing different places but living out of a suitcase is hard. I’ve been on tour for a year and a half now! I need a new wardrobe really [laughs]. 

Tell me about Blood Brothers – that was a dream show for you, wasn’t it?
Blood Brothers was the show that made me go, ‘I want to do musical theatre for a living’. Mickey was the first part I really wanted to do. I first saw it when I was sixteen, I was back home and the tour came to the Isle of Man. I had done a bit of am-dram and had been contemplating what I should do and then I saw Blood Brothers and realised I wanted to work in musical theatre for the rest of my life. It’s the best thing I’ve ever seen! Sometimes I still can’t believe it. Say if I’ve got music on and Blood Brothers pops up on shuffle I just can’t believe that I did the show… and played Mickey! 

"I saw Blood Brothers and realised I wanted to work in musical theatre for the rest of my life."

What was it like when you found out you were going on as Mickey for the first time?
I was actually in warm up. Sean (Jones, who plays Mickey) was in the building and I had walked past him and said hello. I went into warm up and the company manager came up to me and said, “You’re on today” so I had no preparation! I had done a run through, but just had half an hour notice before my first show. It was great! The first show was a bit of a blur but after that I was on cloud nine. 

And before Blood Brothers you were in Evita. What was it like to make your professional debut in such an iconic musical?
It was great to be in something with people like Marti Pellow. I didn’t know him that well, but I can’t believe how big he actually was back in the day! I loved Evita before; it was one of those shows I wanted to tick off the list!

Well, so far you have ticked off three very iconic shows!
[laughs] I’ve been lucky so far!

Perry and the cast of Joseph

What other shows would you like to tick off at some point? In our last interview I think you mentioned Fiyero…
I don’t think I am a Fiyero now, I think I’m too small [laughs]. Footloose would be a great show to do, I love it. Carousel is my all-time favourite show and I would love to play Bobby in Company. That would be amazing!

As well as Blood Brothers, what else do you remember seeing when you were growing up?
I loved Grease when I saw it at the Liverpool Empire. We were doing a school production so we went over to Liverpool to see it and I thought it was amazing! I literally thought they were like movie stars! I was Doody… and I think I would still want to be Doody!

I was about to say you would be a perfect Doody!
[laughs] The guy I saw was so good; it’s definitely one of my favourite shows. 

Imagine you have to go to a desert island and can only take three musical theatre songs with you. Which three would you take and why?
Ah this question! I have been thinking about this because I read your interviews! I would take ‘The Kind of Man I Am’ from Betty Blue Eyes. I did it at drama school so one reason I’m taking it is for the memories. I loved that show and it is such a nice and sincere song. When it comes on it really makes me happy! It reminds me of my dad, he’s not into it, but the character really reminds me of him and my dad is my hero. Next I would take the overture of Blood Brothers because it makes me happy and finally I would take… ‘Sunday’ from Sunday in the Park with George just to keep me chilled out on the island [laughs]. 

What was the last show you saw? I know it’s tricky when you’re on tour!
What was the last thing I saw? It was Miss Saigon! It was incredible, it was absolutely amazing! I was gobsmacked about how good it was. Even stuff like the lighting, which I don’t usually notice, was stunning. It was brilliant!

What’s it like to have so much support behind you from the crazy theatre world?
It always surprises me! When I was on as Pharaoh in Liverpool, I don’t know why, but before the show they said in the announcement “From playing Mickey in Blood Brothers…” and in Liverpool they obviously love Blood Brothers so at the stage door people didn’t care about Pharaoh, they just wanted to talk about Blood Brothers! It always surprises me if someone comes up to me and asks for a signature or if one of the kids in the choir asks for it. I don’t feel like I’m really anyone [laughs], so it’s always really nice and humbling to have people come up and talk to you or tweet to you. It’s so nice every time because I just see myself as a normal person just like anyone else!

Interviewed by Andrew Tomlins (Editor)

Perry plays Pharoah in the UK Tour of Joseph And The Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat at the Wycombe Swan Theatre between Wednesday 26th and Saturday 29th November 2014. Click here to book tickets.

OKLAHOMA! will tour the UK and Ireland next year, opening at the Derngate Theatre in Northampton on 19th February 2015.

Photo Credit 2-4: Darren Bell

No comments:

Post a Comment