Killian Donnelly, The Phantom, The Phantom of the Opera, Her Majesty’s Theatre
What has the journey been like to theatres reopening for you, personally?
Emotional. I got three weeks of this role on the tour, and then we closed. And then it was 18 months of nothing. Of the phone not ringing, which hasn’t happened in 18 years. And I had a son and I had a mortgage and so it was possibly the most emotional time during my career.
How does it now feel being back?
Overwhelming! In the most joyous way. Yeah, it’s incredible that first show back with the audience. Like, it’s always a cliche to say the roof lifted off, but I’ve never heard a reaction of an audience so grateful just to be back in theatre. And that was that was incredibly special to witness first hand, but it was the same for us. It was, it was flooring just to see that reaction.
And what was it that you missed the most about live performances?
The dealing with emotions. Dealing with the frustration of someone knocking into you on the tube or in busting into you in Tesco’s, and you’re going, I can’t wait to get to the theatre and sing that song tonight so that I can just pour the emotion out. That had been building up for 18 months. I think there’s a lot of performers, a lot of company members, who are just releasing a lot of energy and emotions through theatre. And as well as that there’s the audience who need the escapism. And yeah, it’s an amazing. I feel incredibly grateful more than ever to be The Phantom, of all things! To be doing that.
Lucy St. Louis, Christine Daaé, The Phantom of the Opera, Her Majesty’s Theatre
How has your journey been from when theatres closed up until when it reopened?
Oh, it’s been such a whirlwind of a journey. The fact that everything closed down and theatres went dark, which is our life. As a as a performer, theatre is my life and it is not just a job, it is something that I love and I’m very passionate about. So, to have that ripped away from me and so many of my friends and colleagues, for so long, was devastating. And all I could do was pray that it was going to hopefully one day reopen. And now I am just so excited to be a part of the reopening on the West End. It has just been a magical journey to get to this point and to bring live theatre back to our audiences and to feel that amazing energy every night onstage.
How has it been, because you weren’t in Phantom before it closed, did you find out about your role during the pandemic?
I was currently contracted to another show just before the pandemic. I was going to be doing Sister Act up with Whoopi Goldberg but that then got pulled, and I was jobless just like quite a lot of my colleagues. And waiting for, hopefully, the industry to be reopened. And I was very, very lucky enough that I had been in the mix for Phantom over a couple of years. And during the closure of the show in the West End, came about me meeting with Andrew Lloyd Webber and now me being a part of the show, back in the West End for the reopening.
Is there anything in particular that you’ve really missed about live performance?
The one thing that I have missed is connecting with a character and telling a story to an audience every night and finding new ways of bringing that character to life every night. Connecting with the audience and bringing the joy that we have as actors from our show and giving that to our live audiences. That is definitely something that I missed. And just going on a journey of escapism every night. It is almost, I’d say, therapy for us to relive and live in characters and tell stories. And so, if it is for us, then I can only imagine what it is for our audiences. And it’s so amazing to be able to give that back to them as we’ve been starved from it for so long.