CUE & A: The River Star Laura Donnelly on Her Early Inspirations, Dream Roles and Playing Hugh Jackman's "Other Woman"

News   CUE & A: The River Star Laura Donnelly on Her Early Inspirations, Dream Roles and Playing Hugh Jackman's "Other Woman"
 
Laura Donnelly, making her Broadway debut as The Other Woman in Jez Butterworth's The River, fills out Playbill.com's questionnaire of random facts, backstage trivia and pop-culture tidbits.

Laura Donnelly
Laura Donnelly

The Belfast native studied at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama.

Theatre roles include The Other Woman in The River (Royal Court); Katie Doogan in Philadelphia, Here I Come! (Donmar); Anna in Judgment Day (Almeida); Juliet in Romeo and Juliet; Hermia in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre); Chrissie in Dancing at Lughnasa (Lyric Theatre, Belfast) and Catherine in Boston Marriage (B*Spoke).

She has appeared on screen in" Heart of Lightness," "Hello Carter," "Dread," "Insatiable," "Right Hand Drive," "The Fall" (BBC), "Missing"(ABC), "Best" (BBC) and "Outlander" (Starz).

Name: Laura Frances Donnelly
Where you were born/where you were raised: Belfast, Ireland
Zodiac Sign: Leo
What your parents did/do for a living: My mother has been a nurse and a counselor. My father is a GP.
Siblings: Sisters: Susan, Helen and Kirsten. Brothers: Aidan and Connor.
Who were your main mentors or inspirations when first starting out? My first mentor and inspiration was my Irish Dancing teacher Patricia Mulholland. She created her own form of dance known as Irish ballet and created stage productions of old Irish myths and legends. They were my first experiences on stage. She told my mum I was destined for the stage and I took that as my cue.
Special skills: I’ve still got a few moves from my days as a gymnast.
Something you're REALLY bad at: Ball games
First West End/Broadway show you ever saw: Phantom of the Opera in London with my dad when I was 15.
If you could go back in time and catch any show, what would it be? Judi Dench’s Sally Bowles in Cabaret
Current show other than your own you have been recommending to friends: Cabaret at Studio 54
Favorite modern plays/playwrights: Jerusalem by Jez Butterworth
Broadway or screen stars of the past you would most have loved to perform with: There are so many - but I would love to have been directed by the great and recently departed Mike Nichols.
Personal acting idols or people you've worked with who you greatly admire: Judi Dench has always been the benchmark for me. Everything I have seen her do is incredible. I also really admire Cate Blanchett. In terms of people I have worked with, there is no one more admirable than Hugh Jackman, for his spirit, energy, generosity and hard work.
The one performance - attended - that you will never forget: Mark Rylance as Johnny Rooster Byron in Jerusalem
Music that makes you cry, any genre: "Dinner at Eight" by Rufus Wainwright
MAC or PC? MAC
Most played song on your iPod: Tom Waits' "Virginia Avenue"
Last book you read: "One Hundred Years of Solitude"
Must-see TV show(s): "The Good Wife"
Last good movie you saw: "Interstellar"
Some films you consider classics: "What About Bob?"
"The Birdcage"
"Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?"
"Gone With the Wind"
Performer you would drop everything to go see: Tom Waits
Pop culture guilty pleasure: Fashion blogs
Three favorite cities: London, New York, Paris
First CD/Tape/LP you owned: "Appetite for Destruction" by Guns n Roses
First stage kiss: A boy called Damien in my high school production of Carousel
Favorite or most memorable onstage role as a child/teenager: Playing Fionnuala in The Children of Lir (Irish ballet at The Arts Theatre, Belfast, aged 11)
Moment you knew you wanted to perform for a living: In the delivery room!
Favorite pre-/post- show meal: In London, Colbert, beside the Royal Court Theatre. In New York, Bar Centrale.
Favorite liquid refreshment: Dirty Martini
Pre-show rituals or warm-ups: The same 20-minute vocal warm up I’ve been doing since drama college. But everything from an hour before showtime is done the same way, in the same order.
Most challenging role you have ever played: Juliet in Romeo and Juliet. It’s a big part for a little girl!
How are you finding that performing this piece on Broadway in a new space compares to the experience in London in a much smaller venue? The intensity is in fact increased with a bigger audience. You can really feel the audience leaning in and listening. Broadway audiences can also be much more vocal, with sometimes hilarious results!
Biggest challenge about this current project: For me it was in rediscovering the role and starting from scratch - not just recreating what I had done before in London. I wanted it to be a whole new experience and really fresh. That has been the fun of it as well as the challenge.
Most fulfilling or fun aspect about the project: Getting to know my fellow actors has been the most fun. We have an incredible company, so supportive and we have become very close. The most fulfilling aspect has been the play itself. It is rare that you get to discover and deliver such incredible writing in a new play.
Worst flubbed line/missed cue/onstage mishap: Once, and only once, I walked on stage and my mind went utterly blank! I had no idea why I was there! My fellow actors had to rescue me. I was very young and new to the business so I’m glad it didn’t give me stage fright for the rest of my life!
What are some of our favorite or most memorable screen roles?

Often my favourite roles on screen have been smaller ones in productions that I’ve been incredibly proud to be in, such as "The Fall." Just to feel like you can contribute to shows of such quality is a privilege. However in terms of fun, I had such an amazing experience shooting "Missing" for ABC. I got to travel to exotic countries and play a badass CIA mole. It was the stuff of childhood dreams.

Craziest audition story: When I was auditioning for the role of Violet in "Missing" I had to fight myself! I literally had to grasp my own neck and throw myself against a wall. Auditions are so often embarrassing but you just have to go with it with everything you’ve got!
Leading lady role you've been dying to play: I’d like to play an Ibsen leading lady. Such as Hedda Gabler. Also on my list would be Blanche in A Streetcar Named Desire, Joan in Joan of Arc, Sally Bowles in Cabaret and Martha in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? There are so many though, the list is endless!
Leading man role you wish you could play: Eddie in A View from the Bridge, Rooster Byron in Jerusalem, any of Shakespeare’s leading men
Something about you that surprises people: People are often surprised at how small I am in real life compared to on screen. But I think that applies to a lot of actors.
Something you are incredibly proud of: Making it to Broadway, of course!
Career you would want if not a performer: Psychologist
Three things you can't live without: Music, my friends, potatoes
"I'll never understand why…” … some people feel they have the right to tell others how to live their lives based on their religious beliefs.
Words of advice for aspiring performers: Work hard. Really hard. The more you graft the better the results. And be nice to everyone. Not just the people who can do something for your career.
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