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'Have we seen the last of Trish? I really don't know', reveals Aoibhinn ahead of becoming Santa's little helper

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Aoibhinn McGinnity

Aoibhinn McGinnity

Aoibhinn McGinnity

Aoibhinn McGinnity

Aoibhinn in Love/Hate

Aoibhinn in Love/Hate

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Aoibhinn McGinnity

Aoibhinn McGinnity is in Elf Land. She has been for quite some time, what with the 28-year-old actress gearing up for a starring role in one of the most anticipated musicals of the year.

That's right - everyone's favourite (fictional) gangster's moll has gone all festive on us. But as Elf: The Musical gets set to touch down at the Bord Gais Energy Theatre, the only question on everyone's lips when it comes to the Monaghan-raised talent is whether we've seen the last of Trish, aka Mrs Nidge.

"I really don't know what's gonna happen," says Aoibhinn, taking a break from rehearsals in the UK, where she's been based for the last month.

As it turns out, Aoibhinn was probably the only Love/Hate cast member who didn't have proper access to the season five finale when it aired on RTE One last month. She did, however, manage to secure a hazy, background viewing, thanks to her parents.

"I couldn't get it," she admits, "and it was driving me mad. I knew what happened obviously, but I hadn't seen it, but I kind of got a bit of a sense of the sound through Skyping my parents, and they had it on, so it was the worst sort of picture in the world!"

Still, Aoibhinn knew what was in store, her character Trish having watched from the kitchen window as King Nidge was gunned down in his own back garden.

"There was a huge emotional attachment to reading those last few scenes," she recalls, "because of the nature of them, obviously. And it was crazy to shoot that - it wasn't very difficult for me to go into shock mode."

Indeed, Aoibhinn's five-year stint on Love/Hate was only the second acting job she had landed after college. So it came as something of a welcome surprise when the home-grown crime drama took off.

PREDICT

"It is mad, and it's not something that you completely get used to. I think being away from it as well kind of highlights it," she says. "I was in Spain for one of the episodes, and I thought, 'No way, we're not going to get to watch it here', and it was on in an Irish pub!

"And the whole pub stayed quiet for it. So there's no point in saying we knew in the beginning because it is good and the script's great, but to go that far it's very hard to predict something like that."

Creator Stuart Carolan has, of course, stated that Love/Hate in its current incarnation has officially come to an end, but a sixth season (possibly a spin-off) is believed to be in development for 2016. Would Aoibhinn be interested in returning to the character that made her a household name?

"That depends on what's in store," she answers carefully. "I don't know."

Whatever the case, Aoibhinn has certainly been keeping busy of late, with a handful of film releases (Jimi Hendrix biopic All Is By My Side and London-based rom-com Poison Pen) as well as her aforementioned turn as Buddy the Elf's little helper (and love interest) Jovie, in the all-singing, all-dancing stage adaptation of Hollywood Yuletide favourite Elf, in which she co-stars with Ben Forster of Jesus Christ Superstar fame.

Having obtained a degree in theatre dance from the London Studio Centre in the mid-Noughties, it was a welcome move for the young actress to return to her musical roots.

"It's just all stuff that's there in the back of my head from before," she says of her singing and dancing skills, "but I left it to the side for acting gigs. It's been used as well for various things like The Threepenny Opera or Anglo: the Musical or Alice in Funderland, so it was never fully put to bed, it's just not what I do all the time.

"But thank God, I've been lucky to be part of a couple of productions that tie in musical theatre over the years, and now this one."

This will be the first time the Broadway production of Elf has made the jump to the European stage. Oh, and Aoibhinn and Ben just so happen to be taking on roles made famous by the great Will Ferrell and Zooey Deschanel.

"I've only seen the film once, and it's brilliant and it's been adapted really, really cleverly," says Aoibhinn. "I mean, it hasn't been put in front of an (Irish) audience yet, but I'm pretty confident that it's gonna go down really well. It's got a lovely, warm Christmassy Broadway sound and feel to it, so people are gonna like it."

Again, the role of chirpy New Yorker Jovie may be a million miles from sassy Trish, but hey, no young actor wants to be typecast, right?

"You do keep an eye out for things that might interest you," she says.

"It's never really the same, to be honest. I've always said that I just want to play as many different kinds of parts as possible.

"I don't get recognised a massive amount. Sometimes I do, but people are super appreciative and mad about Love/Hate, and it's all very positive - I've never had any negativity."

There's never been a back-up plan. Signing up to a local theatre group as a teenager, Aoibhinn was merely looking for a way to spend more time with her friends.

Little did she know that she had inadvertently stumbled upon a career.

"Because it is hard work, I just know myself I wouldn't be able to do anything that I don't really want to do. I think that you should work hard, but have fun in what you do, so thank God I love it. I still don't have big visions of what the next job needs to be, I just know I'm in the right field and I'm happy in it right now."

She has also learned to laugh off the celebrity side of things. As Aoibhinn explains, it is possible to lead a perfectly normal life while simultaneously starring in one of the biggest Irish television shows of all time.

"Oh God, yeah, I mean there's nothing really abnormal," she says. "It sounds like, from the outside, 'Oh, big musical, shows on TV', you know, but at the same time you're also going to work, day by day, and just trying to do your best at your job."

Elf: The Musical is at Bord Gais Theatre from December 16 to January 10


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