London Calling with Champagne Charlie: 31/5/09 QUADROPHENIA:RYAN O'DONNELL

By: Jun. 01, 2009
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As QUADROPHENIA begins previews across the UK, the buzz on the show is really building. Leading man Jimmy is being portrayed by four different actors to represent four different sides of his character - and one of the 'Jimmies', actor Ryan O'Donnell, took time out to answer our questions en route from one venue to another as the show snakes its way over the country.

Champagne Charlie: When did you hear you first had the part?

Ryan O'Donnell: On the tube to see Spring Awakening! My phone cut out half way through the call.

Champagne Charlie: Quadrophenia can be seen as a period piece. How relevant is the work and your character to today's audience?

Ryan O'Donnell: The show, to begin with, was aimed at mods, but the new generation that come to see it seems to be thoroughly enjoying it which proves it is timeless.

Champagne Charlie: When did you first hear the work and have you seen the film version?

Ryan O'Donnell: My parents were both second-generation mods so I heard The Who from an early age - though I wasn't allowed to watch the film till I was a teenager for obvious reasons - sex, drugs, violence!

Champagne Charlie: How did you go about preparing for the role?

Ryan O'Donnell: Firstly learning the words to the album through and through and then researching the culture, the reason behind the movement, drugs, the music mods actually listened to and importantly how to move and hold yourself.

Champagne Charlie: How has the rehearsal process worked out for you? What did you do to prepare for the character?

Ryan O'Donnell: The rehearsal process was very unrestrictive. It was very much the task of the cast. The discovery of how we interacted with one another either as real characters or the internal aspects. Trying to purvey the idea of Jimmy as one person while the two or three aspects were on stage together was difficult to say the least. Hopefully the purposefully open gestured switches read clearly to the audience.

Champagne Charlie: Does this differ from the way you prepare for other roles, such as in more classical plays like Shakespeare?

Ryan O'Donnell: Yes. In the biggest possible way. There was very little talk or discussion on history, motivation, intent etcetera. It was more a case of making bold physical offers to the other actors on stage that correlated with the story as we interpreted it.

Champagne Charlie: Have there been any funny or scary moments in this production in rehearsals or working on other shows where things might have gone unintentionally wrong?

Ryan O'Donnell: Plenty of singing embarrassingly wrong lyrics to songs! I think I take the credit for most of that. Otherwise watch this space.

Champagne Charlie: How did you get out of the problems - or not?

Ryan O'Donnell: Getting out of tricky technical problems can sometimes bring freshness and fun to a show but can at other times be demoralising, especially when you are unsure of a scene to begin with.

Champagne Charlie: Do you prefer musical theatre format to other forms?

Ryan O'Donnell: Usually not at all but with this album it's a very different case.

Champagne Charlie: Who took the decision to deconstruct the character into these four separate parts?

Ryan O'Donnell: Well, Pete Townshend. But it was the director/writer that decided to have four different actors portray the different aspects.

Champagne Charlie:
If you were allowed the chance to be cast in a work running or about to open at the moment in addition to this show, what part would you like to play and why?

Ryan O'Donnell: This is pretty much a dream part for me but I'd like to be in a comedy again at some point.

Champagne Charlie:
What do you have planned after the show?

Ryan O'Donnell: Hopefully the show itself will have an afterlife but otherwise I'll take anything that's thrown at me.

Champagne Charlie: It is a very exhausting and vibrant show - how do you unwind after a performance in this show and in general?

Ryan O'Donnell: It's not really a case of 'unwind' - more carry on going till you drop for the night most nights.

Champagne Charlie: After working with your current director, [Tom Critchley] have you had any thoughts about directing material yourself and if so what?

Ryan O'Donnell: I'm not a director or writer, I'm not sure I have the skill set. Perhaps one day. I have friends who are actors, some in the cast, that I feel could direct. You can see people thinking it so deeply rather than living it.



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