Interview with Eoin Cannon – Angela’s Ashes The Musical
by Letizia Delmastro
Angela’s Ashes The Musical – 9 Sep 2019 – 14 Sep 2019 – Bord Gais Energy Theatre
Find out more about Angela’s Ashes The Musical here.
We had the chance to sit down with Eoin Cannon, star of Angela’s Ashes The Musical and quiz him on the production which opens next week. You can see the results below…
How did you discover acting and that it was something for you?
Well, art was always a part of my family – there were many musicians on my father’s side – and myself and my cousins would put on shows, dragging our parents out into a shed where we’d made a little stage. I then started attending speech and drama classes. When I realized that this was something that I wanted to do more seriously I enrolled in the Gaiety School of Acting; during my acting training I kept getting separate singing lessons; after I graduated I decided to put the two together and I enrolled in the Guilford School of Acting, which is more musical based. I then joined a musical theatre group and realized that musical theatre is in fact what I wanted to do!
And is what you’re doing now matching your expectations of what you thought acting would be?
I’m not sure of what I expected acting to be when I started out. I always wanted to tell stories, whether they be through words, songs, music or directing, I really wanted to bring people on a journey and make them experience something within themselves; I never wanted fame, I just wanted to be respected in my field, and that’s what I was driven by. I also think I was always quite realistic and mature and never want to let my expectations get too big. When I started out in acting, I actually didn’t think you could make a career out of it: I just though “this is what I want to do, and if can make enough money to pay my mortgage and have a few drinks on the side, happy days!”. I wanted to tell stories, and it’s exactly what I’m doing in this show, as I’m narrating the very story to the audience, and it almost feels like everything and every job I took on as an actor culminated in this role.
The last run of Angela’s Ashes was in 2017; now that you’re bringing the show back, did you get to explore the role a little more, and maybe change something that you weren’t happy with?
In the show, I am on stage 90% of the time, and talking for 80% of it: there is a lot of dialogue, exposition, detail and a lot of cues, which makes that there is a lot resting on me saying exactly the right line at the right time, and it creates a lot of pressure. In the first run of the show I was concentrating on getting everything right, while now I am in the “play zone”, where the words are there and I find myself being more relaxed on stage and finding new and more nuances in the words. We also have five new actors, and each actor brings something new to the show, making it different all of the time and creating new and interesting reactions for the audience and me at the same time.
Do you feel like different audiences across Ireland react differently to the show?
We have currently run the show in Limerick, Dublin and Belfast, and we will then open in Cork and London. Already within the first three cities we experienced hugely different reactions; the story is set in Limerick, so Limerick audiences see a very different story being portrayed on stage, because they recognize a lot of it and feel connected to it. The general reaction to the story seems to be audiences coming in expecting something, and then leaving having experienced something different, and having loved it. I believe many audiences come in expecting something on the line of the movie, which is very dark, depressing and real: they don’t realize that the story we tell on stage is Frank’s recollection of his memories as a child and young man. Frank’s memories, like all memories, are not exact, they are fuzzy around the edges, details are missing: Frank remembers what he thought about the events in his life, and the genius of his writing was to retain that candid child feeling without any adult interpretation on it.
Do you feel that the fact that Angela’s Ashes was made into a musical speaks more to the audiences?
To me, where words fail, music takes over. You can convey so many emotions to a person through music, and each person will have their own interaction with it. In order to tell a story to someone, you need all of their senses to be engaged: music draws people in, and it’s up to the genuineness and legitimacy of the music to tell the story, rather than having music for music’s sake. It’s just like watching a film without underscore, you won’t be moved half as much. That is also where musical theatre has to be very careful: in some musical music and song are just used to entertain, while in this show it is used to tell the story, and it adds to the words, getting the audience to engage and invest in it.
Finally, is there anything you would like audiences to keep in mind when coming to see the show?
I’d like them to remember that we are playing in the main playhouse for musical theatre in Ireland, and we are an all-Irish production: we should be proud of this show, and don’t be put off by preconceptions of what the show will be about. I promise that you will laugh and maybe also have a tear in your eye. I would just urge people to keep an open mind and experience a musical that we should be proud of as a nation,
Angela’s Ashes runs in the Bord Gais Theatre from September 9th to 14th.