Friday 24 November 2017

Curtain call for the small screen - Actress Charlene McKenna to make her West End debut

Charlene McKenna as Rose in BBC period drama Ripper Street Photographer: Jonathan Hession
Charlene McKenna as Rose in BBC period drama Ripper Street Photographer: Jonathan Hession
Laura Butler

Laura Butler

ACTRESS Charlene McKenna is to make her West End debut after returning to the stage for the first time in five years.

Monaghan-born McKenna is currently starring in Richard Eyre's hit adaptation of Henrik Ibsen's classic play 'Ghosts'.

The production has been enjoying critical and box office success with audiences, running at London's Almeida Theatre.

McKenna is now preparing to step onto the stage at the well-known Trafalgar Studios, after a transfer deal has been signed to begin a West End run from December 17 until March 8.

"I don't do a lot of theatre and it's been a long time since I have, but once I'd made the decision to do the show I was fine," McKenna told this newspaper.

"It was more the thought of getting back into it that held the fear factor for me.”

The 28-year-old plays Regina Engstrand, maidservant to lead character Mrs Alving (Lesley Manville). The play also features Brian McCardie, Will Keen, and Jack Lowden.

While McKenna has appeared in several high-profile projects in film and television, including 'Breakfast on Pluto' and most recently the second season of BBC's period drama 'Ripper Street', she has not done any theatre since 'The Eleventh Capital' in the UK in 2007.

"I do find the repetition of theatre very difficult, it's a challenge, but it's good to do and a great discipline to learn,” she said.

The actress has had no stage training and admitted that the director Richard Eyre, who is highly respected in theatre circles and who previously directed Academy Award-winning Daniel Day Lewis in 'Hamlet', took a leap of faith hiring her.

"There'll definitely be nerves on the opening night again, although the role is part of my DNA now and the cast is very collected and calm, so there are no egos to through us off. I'm really happy to get to continue with this character," she told the Irish Independent.

With eight shows a week until March, McKenna will enjoy a short Christmas this year.

"I'm hoping to get home on Christmas Eve for two days, but that will literally be it.

It's a nice stint [work wise] though, because December and January tend to be quiet for actors.

Signing on to reprise her latest role for another few months means that McKenna will spend almost an entire year wearing corsets, should she agree to a third season of 'Ripper Street'.

"I haven't got out of a corset since last May," she added.

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