Belfast Telegraph

Laura couldn't be without her No 1 fan

Actress's love for Snow Patrol star

By Maureen Coleman

When Belfast actress Laura Donnelly steps onto the stage at the Lyric each night, she knows her number one fan will be hugely proud of her performance.

According to the Dancing At Lughnasa star, she could never spend her life with someone who doesn't hail from an artistic background or understand and respect her work.

But the actress, who has been receiving high praise for her role as the youngest daughter in Brian Friel's play, has no worries on that front.

For her biggest fan is long-term boyfriend Nathan Connolly, guitarist with Northern Ireland's most successful band Snow Patrol.

The 23-year-old north Belfast girl has been dating Nathan for almost eight years, since they were introduced by a mutual friend.

Laura said: "We've been together a long time, even before Nathan joined Snow Patrol.

"I was attracted to him for the same reasons most people are attracted to someone. He felt like a kindred spirit and we had a lot in common.

"Of course I'm very proud of his work with the band and he's very proud of me. We respect each other immensely.

"It's very important for me to be able to relate to someone on a professional level. I could never imagine myself being with someone who was not artistic in some way. We understand each other and how our schedules work and everything is good between us."

Laura often attends Snow Patrol concerts while Nathan was spotted in the audience at the Lyric Theatre during the opening week of Dancing At Lughnasa.

Laura plays Chrissie Mundy in the production - a role she says she can easily relate to.

"It's funny, but I studied Dancing At Lughnasa for A-Level and in the classroom scenario we acted it out and I played Chrissie at the time," she said.

"I could relate to her straight away. Like her, I'm the youngest girl in my family and I share her enthusiasm and vigour for life. She has ambitions for herself and thinks there is something more to her life."

After studying drama at Rathmore Grammar in Belfast, Laura trained at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music, before settling in London, where she lives.

Her theatre credits include A Boston Marriage at the Project Theatre in Dublin and Sleeping Beauty at the Royal Lyceum Theatre in Edinburgh.

She has also appeared in numerous TV programmes including Sugar Rush, Casualty and has starred in a soon-to-be-released film, Right Hand Drive.

There's another week left at the Lyric, then Laura will be free to take up other acting offers.

There's one role the fan of stars Cate Blanchett and Judi Dench would love to play.

"I'd love to try my hand at more classical stuff, like Shakespeare. Something like Lady Macbeth. That would be perfect," she said.

At the Lyric until July 7.

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