Behind the Scenes with Kristen Ryan
Gianetta of The Gondoliers
Tell me about your character in The Gondoliers. What do you think of them? Do you have anything in common?
Gianetta is a young woman living in Venice, who along with the other contadine, dreams of marrying one of the gondoliers and escaping her humble peasant life. I like to think that I’m more of an intelligent, independent woman than her, as many of the young women in Gilbert & Sullivan shows seem to only be interested in marrying a handsome man. I do, however, share Gianetta’s energetic and excitable personality; she wears her heart on her sleeve and when faced with difficult situations I think she tends to react more dramatically than her counterpart, Tessa. I can also relate to her fierce possessiveness of her partner!
What role would you love to play that you haven’t had a chance to as yet?
Christine Daaé in The Phantom of the Opera. It’s a wonderful dramatic ingénue role that requires a huge vocal range and I would relish the challenge if I ever get the opportunity to perform it.
Who’s the funniest person in the cast?
Luke Belle. I think he’s a natural comedian - his improvisations when performing always make me laugh and he can be very cheeky. His warm and inviting personality made me instantly feel comfortable to be myself around him, and we often bounce off each other, cracking jokes or goofing around during rehearsal breaks.
Who in the show is most like the character they play?
Unfortunately I haven’t spent much time with the Ducal party yet, but out of the people I’ve been working with I’d say that Alison McIntosh seems to fit comfortably into her role as the confident and beautiful Fiametta, who acts as the unofficial leader of the contadine.
Who is least like their character?
Lisa Belle Lally is not exactly a batty old nurse, but she sings the part well!
Without giving anything away, what’s your favourite line from the show?
‘The Lord High Vagabond in the stocks.’
What’s the biggest challenge about taking on this role?
The Cachucha! Singing and dancing at the same time is already hard enough without the song being extended to a five-minute dance extravaganza (arranged by Tim Wilson with fantastic choreography by Sarah Cossey) that culminates in a fast-paced chorus of tricky footwork, non-stop singing, impressive lifts and ridiculously high notes!
If you could play any other character in this show, who would it be?
Casilda. I auditioned for her as well, but I guess Adrian and Tim could sense that I’m too crazy to pull off playing a refined and poised daughter of a Duke.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
When I was in primary school, I wanted to be an artist/ painter. Now I’m not sure. I love performing; I love writing, arranging and recording music; and I’m now a qualified secondary and primary school teacher. I’ll just go where life takes me.
She wears her heart on her sleeve and when faced with difficult situations I think she tends to react more dramatically than her counterpart, Tessa.
When did you first perform?
My kindergarten Nativity play. I was a shepherd and my kindergarten nemesis got to be Mary. I think that was the beginning of my thirst for recognition of my talents.
Besides this one, what’s your favourite stage show?
I didn’t grow up with Gilbert & Sullivan or opera, so I’m a musical theatre nerd at heart. My current obsession is with Hamilton; I never thought a musical about the American founding fathers told mostly through rap would be able to make me feel so many intense emotions. It’s brilliantly crafted so that every note and word serves the story and its characters. Lin-Manuel Miranda is the new Sondheim. Honourable mentions go to West Side Story and Next to Normal.
Who do you look up to (as an actor/director/etc.)?
I think hearing Kristin Chenoweth on the cast recording of Wicked was influential for me. It was a contemporary musical that made me excited about the operatic style of singing, and it served as a gateway for me to begin exploring and training in classical technique.
When you have a five-minute break during rehearsal, what do you spend that time doing?
Usually catching up on gossip with my good friends Steph Morgan and Andrew Blair!
What do you do when you’re not doing theatre?
I’m currently doing casual relief teaching, so when I don’t get called in I have a lot of spare time. I’ve gotten really into making YouTube videos of my singing lately, and have been getting requests for more karaoke tracks where I add my own vocals so that people can sing along in sort-of a virtual duet. I also like playing video games, watching TV and reading, and exercising with the Zombies, Run! app (because the only way I can feel motivated to run is if there are imaginary zombies chasing me).
What’s the last thing you do before you step out on stage / the curtain goes up?
Give my cast mates a thumbs up and a smile, then take a deep breath…
GSOV presents The Gondoliers: one of William S Gilbert's & Arthur Sullivan's most entertaining and enduring collaborations, filled with toe-tapping tunes, fantastic dancing and romance aplenty in a far off sunny isle.
GSOV's latest production is a timely and witty reflection on the values of Monarchy and Republicanism and features seasoned performers from the worlds of opera, musical theatre and classic dance. A standout show from a much loved and venerable organisation, an effervescent event not to be missed!