Actress Morgana O'Reilly feels she is living her dream by starring in an award-
winning play and appearing on prime-time television at the same time.
"I've known I wanted to be an actor since I was 15, when I realised all my other dream occupations were just acting up to get a reaction," she says. "At one stage I told everyone that I wanted to be a gypsy, live in a gypsy fair and sell scented candles." Although the candles have fallen by the wayside, O'Reilly, 23, has found that the life of an actor lives up to her childhood dream of travelling around the country. At present she is starring in Toa Fraser's Bare, which has played in Auckland, Wellington and Nelson and will be returning to Auckland on Wednesday for a season at the Herald Theatre.
And her stint on the TV3 comedy show A Thousand Apologies saw the cast being ferried around Auckland in a van with its own mobile costume and make-up trailer. The crazy wigs, hats and other accoutrements helped O'Reilly play a host of different characters. She is getting well-
known for her versatility and director Oliver Driver says she was cast in Bare because of her ability to become nine different characters. "Morgana is a great actress with a shape-shifting ability similar to Danielle Cormack," Driver says. "She is one of those actors who becomes the people she is playing. Morgana has the chops to do anything with drama but even rarer are her comedic skills."
Bare is credited with being the play that brought playwright Toa Fraser and actors Madeleine Sami and Ian Hughes to theatregoers' attention. It bought modern Auckland life to the stage and was hailed by theatre critics as a classic when it debuted in 1998.
It also brought the Silo Theatre to prominence and was the logical choice for the company to celebrate its 10th anniversary with this year. The show was rewritten by Fraser and restaged by Driver. Delivered as a tag-team competition of collected storytelling, O'Reilly and co-star Curtis Vowell transport us to Burger King lunchrooms, Mt Roskill kitchens and Hoyts Cinemas candy-bars.
O'Reilly says the play has lasting appeal because of Fraser's ear for colloquialisms and his ability to show real people on the stage.
Since graduating, O'Reilly has supported herself with acting and some bar work at the Basement, which was formerly home to the Silo. Despite it being a hard way to make a living, the young actor loves theatre. "They say if you want to make money you should work on TV, if you want to be famous work on film, and if you want to be good then do theatre. That's why I do theatre."
Morgana says she has inherited creativity from her parents, dancer/choreographer Mary-Jane O'Reilly and graphic designer Phil OReilly. "From mum I've got my love of performing and storytelling and from dad his gift of the gab and Irish desire to talk, talk, talk and be heard."
* Bare is on at Auckland's Herald Theatre from October 8 to 18. The sketch show A Thousand Apologies ends this Friday on TV3 at 9.30pm.