Friday, 3 March 2017

INTERVIEW: Hollie O’Donoghue, currently starring as Eponine in Les Miserables

I must start by saying that the stage show of Les Mis has now been seen by over 70 million people around the world. That’s more than the populations of Canada, Australia and Portugal added together! For anyone who hasn’t seen the show, can you try and summarise it in no more than three sentences?
 Les Miserables tells the story of an ex-convict hero Jean Valjean who serves 19 years in prison for stealing a loaf of bread. His whole life is a quest for redemption while trying to escape from the the police inspector Javert who relentlessly pursues him. Throughout the story we meet characters such as Fantine, we see the love triangle between Marius, Cosette and Eponine, daughter of the cruel Thernadiers. We see poverty, social injustice, endurance, hope over struggle, revolution, moral lessons, love and compassion. The show is sung throughout and is arguably the best score of all time. It’s a timeless piece that touches modern day audiences even after 31 years running.

We saw you a while ago when you were covering the role of Eponine and thought you were magnificent. How has your interpretation of the role changed since taking it on full time?
My interpretation of her has stayed somewhat the same but it has developed a lot more. Because I’m playing her every night, I have been able to discover more in depth to her as a character, and put my own mark on her as an actor.

Could you tell us a little bit about your ascent to where you are now? What were your highlights of that journey?
I started off like any other aspiring actor, local drama schools and amateur dramatics. I then trained in London before setting my eyes on the big wide world of auditions! The biggest part of the journey for me include the setbacks as well as the high points, as they are what you can learn from. However, the biggest highlight so far has to be getting the phone call about Les Mis!

What’s your favourite moment to be part of in the show?
 This would have to be ‘ONE DAY MORE’ at the end of Act One. It’s the first time
on stage when the whole company are together singing about what tomorrow will bring, striving and marching to a new beginning. It sends out a powerful message and feels very special to be a part of. It still sends shivers down my spine every night, “tomorrow we’ll discover what our god in heaven has in store”!

Why do you think Marius overlooks Eponine the way he does? She’s always been a crowd favourite, but he just doesn’t seem to love her like we do!
Marius unfortunately is a troubled confused soul who is caught up in Marius’ world, he is completely oblivious to the love that Eponine has for him and is naively innocent to how hurtful he is being to her. He is caught up in his love for Cosette and the revolution, we would like to think that maybe in that second in 'a little fall of rain' when he kisses her on the forehead, that he has a realisation that he might have felt a bit of love for her but who knows? I think that’s what Eponine would like to think!

The lyrics of Les Mis are some of the most quoted of the last century. Can you pick one or two favourites?
'To love another person is to see the face of god"

‘Freedom is mine."

Have you had any major on-stage mishaps recently? When working with a revolve, there are obviously some high risk moments!
Ah yes the revolve! There has been many a time when I’m singing and I accidentally have one foot on the revolve and one foot off which in turn makes Eponine almost do a jazz split when the revolve starts to move.

What tips and tricks do you have for staying fit, healthy and vocally strong enough to perform in 8 shows a week?
Looking after your body physically and mentally, eating well, exercising, sleeping well, drinking plenty of water to keep hydrated for all that singing! I go to the gym and yoga classes and get my rest in when I need it. Balance is key.

If you could take on any other role in the show, male or female, which would you choose and why?

I would love to play Valijean because I think he goes through the biggest journey, it’s an epic part and I admire every actor who takes on this demanding role , Madam Thenadier is a great part too and you could have a lot of fun with her!

When it’s time to say goodbye to the barricades, where would you like to see yourself next? 
I would like to keep working and keep being creative, for now I’m very happy to be on the barricades!
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