Belfast Telegraph

What’s got these girls in a flap?

As an updated musical version of Comedy of Errors |begins its run in Newtownabbey, the leading ladies tell Kerry McKittrick why they love the Roaring Twenties style ... before having a thoroughly modern makeover

It may be Shakespeare but it's not quite as we know it. The Theatre At The Mill in Newtownabbey will be bringing one of the bard's best-loved comedies to the stage this evening — with a twist.

Local director Michael Poyner has completely rewritten the classic caper A Comedy Of Errors giving it a make over. Instead of in the ancient Greek city of Epheseus the action now takes place in Belfast and is updated from ancient times to the Roaring Twenties. Even the script has been translated into Norn Irn. There will of course be a few familiar sights in the stage design too. Expect to catch a glimpse of Belfast's City Hall and the Jaffe Fountain (normally situated behind Victoria Square).

We decided to give the flapper girls a thoroughly modern makeover too, with the help of BeauHaus hair and make-up and clothes and styling from Belfast Fashion Week.

Orla Mullan (28) is from Limavady and will be playing the roles of Emily, Jenny and Nellie. She says:

What I love about this play is that we've taken Shakespeare and turned it on its head. Musical theatre is really starting to come into its own in Northern Ireland and modernising a classic is always great fun.

This is a really energetic production and I ended up covered in bruises during rehearsals!

I've wanted to be an actress since I was really small. I think it was watching the Hollywood movie stars in films and my parents started taking me to the theatre when I was quite young, too.

I was always a singer in my youth so I took part in all sorts of musical theatre groups and I gradually went towards acting that way.

It really hit home that I was going to be an actress when I got accepted onto my acting course. It was when I was studying for my A-levels and I got an unconditional offer from the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts. That was a big moment.

My first professional job on screen was actually in a commercial for Junction One shopping centre. Then a week later I got a job touring with Disney's Beauty and the Beast.

I was in the ensemble and also the understudy as Mrs Potts. I went back a couple of years later to take over the role of Mrs Potts.

They say you make your best friends when you're touring and it's absolutely true.

The people you're with see you at your best and your worst because you're together all the time. You get to see places you wouldn't necessarily go to. It can be tough but I found that living out of a suitcase really actually suited me.

I love the theatre. Although I have a singing background I think the job I enjoyed the most was an Australian play that toured Ireland called Long Gone Lonesome Cowgirls.

It's a gritty two-hander and I actually enjoyed that more that musical theatre.

I would love to do more TV, it can be a real challenge because it's a different style of acting from the stage, much more subtle.

I love make up and have loved getting mine done for the shoot. I keep rifling through Lorna's box of tricks while she's working on me?

I always try to accentuate my curves so I love Marilyn type dresses that are structured and sweetheart necklines.

Of course I love my heels but my staple is a black dress. I must have about 50 of them.”

Orla Gormley (27) is from Belfast and lives in London with her boyfriend Richard. She plays Lucy. She says:

There's a really strong tradition of musical theatre in London but not so much in Northern Ireland so being able to do something new like a revisited Comedy of Errors is great.

Interpreting Shakespeare and taking it to the next level is something I'm really excited about. The Theatre At The Mill has actually taken a bit of a risk in putting on something like this but I'm really looking forward to it.

The costumes are great — the flapper style dresses really suit my shape and my style so I love wearing them. I've loved getting my make-up done today and I've picked up some new tricks from Lorna.

As you would expect for theatre folk, I'm suspicious. I like to have exactly the same routine every night before I go on stage. I stretch and warm up then have a Diet Coke. Then I do my make up, have a coffee, do my hair and get into costume before going on.

I've always had a passion for acting I suppose. I used to travel from Belfast to Derry to sing with a drama group from that city.

I was very lucky in that I had some wonderfully supportive teachers. Mrs Meir in Our Lady Of Mercy and Mrs Clark in Dominican College, Fortwilliam, both in Belfast. They always pushed me and encouraged me in the arts and without them I wouldn't have been able to get a full scholarship to study musical theatre at the Arts Educational Schools, London. I was one if the first girls to go there with a scholarship from Northern Ireland.

My first job straight out of drama school was playing Juliet in a Romeo and Juliet rock opera for three weeks in London and I loved it. Musical theatre is what I was trained in so it is my first love.

Normally I live in London so it's great being able to spend some time with my family at home.

I come from a big family in north Belfast with five brothers and sisters. One of my sisters, Kiera Gormley is a very successful model here — she's currently the face of Belfast Fashion Week. My other sister, Niamh, has been approached by Storm Models in London and has done some shoots with Belfast photogarpher Khara Pringle.

She's currently focusing on her A-levels and wants to study English at Queen's University in the city.

I never did consider modelling — I've always been too busy singing and dancing instead.”

Sarah Lyle (30) is playing Adrianna. She lives in Templepatrick with her husband Colm and their daughter Georgia. She says:

This is my first gig since coming back from maternity leave but it's nice to get back into the swing of things. It's great to do something centred around Belfast and the production is a lot of fun. The music for this is class.

My style is a real mixture. I like dresses and heels but during rehearsals I like to be comfortable so I tend to wear jumpers and leggings. Most of the time I wear colours and patterns, I'm not really one for wearing black.

I've always been a performer. When my cousin and I were little we would write plays together and perform them in the back garden for all of the neighbours.

I went on to take part in the Ulster Theatre Company and that inspired me to train and become a professional actress. I studied at the Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts in London. My first theatre job after I graduated was in Guys And Dolls with the Tinderbox Theatre Company in Belfast. My first TV job was on Casualty on BBC.

It was just a bit part but I did have to pinch myself for taking part in such a well-know TV series.

I've been acting so long now the dressing room back stage is like a second home to me.

The best thing for me to do is get comfortable so I have everything here from Diet Coke and hair accessories to slippers and a dressing gown — they've been very handy during this shoot as the weather's still cold. And, of course, I have my ever-present chocolate.”

How they got the look...

Styled by Hollie Hanlan, Belfast Fashionweek (www.belfastfashionweek.com); make-up by Lorna Young, BeauHaus, Belfast (www.beau-haus.com); hair by Niamh O'Kane, BeauHaus, Belfast. All modern outfits from The Outlet, Banbridge (www.the-outlet.co.uk)

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