Wednesday 25 April 2018

Charlene McKenna dances through the pain of strained ankle in Great Gatsby

Charlene McKenna who plays Daisy Buchanan. Picture: Gerry Mooney
Charlene McKenna who plays Daisy Buchanan. Picture: Gerry Mooney
Charlene as Rose in BBC's Ripper Street
Charlene McKenna prepares for her performance in ‘The Great Gatsby’ at The Gate. Photo: David Conachy
Wayne O'Connor

Wayne O'Connor

Charlene McKenna, the Ripper Street star, is dancing through the pain as she plays "spoiled little rich kid" Daisy Buchanan in F Scott Fitzgerald's jazz age classic The Great Gatsby at The Gate.

She suffered a severe ankle ligament strain during the finale of the show which is earning rave reviews and attracting sell-out audiences at the Dublin theatre.

It may be a cliché but the show really must go on as there is no understudy for Charlene's role.

And yesterday, she played to a full house during the matinee for the new immersive production in which the audience is invited to dance and dress like it's 1925.

Charlene McKenna prepares for her performance in ‘The Great Gatsby’ at The Gate. Photo: David Conachy
Charlene McKenna prepares for her performance in ‘The Great Gatsby’ at The Gate. Photo: David Conachy

The accident happened last Wednesday, with the performance just about to finish when the Monaghan-born actress went over on her ankle.

"It was a killer show and then I went over, but since then these gals and the boys have been amazing.

"They have come home with me, stayed with me, made me breakfast, carried things. They are the best cast ever. The Gate have been amazing, too, so I have top-notch physio sorted and I am determined to get back dancing ASAP.

"We have worked out certain lifts that the boys can do and then I have my own butler, too.

Charlene as Rose in BBC's Ripper Street
Charlene as Rose in BBC's Ripper Street

"After training for more than month for all the dances, I'd rather be dancing but otherwise I am not overly affected," she said.

She damaged ligaments and the sprain is significant enough for her to require the aid of a crutch.

But Charlene is a trouper from the old school and as audiences dance into one of Jay Gatsby's legendary parties, her injury and discomfort hasn't been noticed, despite the changes to her dancing routine.

The play is a smash hit. The seats have been removed from the auditorium, the chandeliers lowered and the entire theatre has been opened up to the public. There is also an open bar for the audience to enjoy drinks, and access to previously forbidden areas of the Gate.

McKenna wears a dazzling 1920s flapper dress and pearls for the show which tells the story of the gilded but doomed millionaire Jay Gatsby, played in this production by Dubliner Paul Mescal

McKenna first came to prominence starring as Jennifer in Pure Mule.

She won the Best Actress (Television) award at the Irish Film and Television Awards in 2009 for Raw and won the Outstanding Actress in a Mini-Series award for her role in Whistleblower at the Monte Carlo Television Festival in June 2009.

More recently, her performances in the highly acclaimed Ripper Street - where she plays Rose, a prostitute - have wowed the critics.

"I do get a lot of tragedy. And a lot of despair, and a lot of very, very vulnerable but strong characters," she said in a recent interview.

Charlene grew up in Glaslough, Co Monaghan, where her father and mother were mushroom farmers and, later, publicans.

Sunday Independent

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