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Actor-musician Alice McKenna: ‘Getting your first job is the biggest challenge. After that, you have the confidence you need’

Actor-musician Alice McKenna

Performing in her first pantomime this Christmas in Dick Whittington at Theatr Clwyd in Wales, Alice McKenna tells Giverny Masso what it’s like to be an actor-musician and how her career in theatre started…

How did you get into performance?
I was always more into music and musical instruments as I was growing up. I’ve also always sung and loved watching musicals, so I decided to take the plunge and went to Performance Preparation Academy in Guildford, graduating in 2017. The first job I did was Underneath a Magical Moon by Mike Kenny, with Tutti Frutti Productions.

What is it like being part of Dick Whittington at Theatr Clwyd?
Theatr Clwyd’s show is known for being one of the big rock’n’roll pantos, so it’s fab to be part of it. I play Scratch – one of King Rat’s cronies – but my main role is playing instruments. That’s the amazing thing about this show – it’s a proper company and everyone plays a really important part. I’ve never done a panto before, so this being my first experience is fab. I’ve learned so much and you’re so in each others’ pockets that you end up making friends with everyone.

What musical instruments do you play in the show?
I’m playing bass guitar, electric guitar, piano, keyboard and saxophone. I tend to give any instrument a go. Music has been the main influence on my career as well as theatre. I particularly love all the old rock bands, like the Who, Prince and Queen.

What is your favourite thing about this production?
The music – the songs are epic and all fit and suit the different characters. There’s also a massive amount of glitter in this show – we all keep finding it in our hair and everywhere.

What have you got lined up after Dick Whittington?
After this I’m going on a US tour from Vegas to New York in Underneath a Magical Moon. It’s such a good show – an adaptation of Peter Pan using only three of us – and I play Wendy, among other characters.

What has been your biggest career challenge?
Getting your first job is the biggest challenge. Once you’ve got that, you have the confidence you need. However big or small, it’s just about getting that first chance when you are starting out. It can initially be hard to get your foot in the door as a graduate, even when you are going really hard and full-out trying. My advice to people starting out is to be kind and to be yourself. That’s always what I try to do: just go into an audition, or job, and be me. If you get a job based on being yourself, you feel like you deserve it and will feel happy doing it.

Dick Whittington runs at Theatr Clwyd under January 19, 2019https://www.thestage.co.uk/pantomime/

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