Meet Ryan O’Donnell

Photo credit: @sunnyafternoonthemusical

Last month, @SunnyAftFans named alternate Ray Davies (Ryan O’Donnell) as Understudy of the Month. Since that announcement, we’ve learnt that he will be taking on the leading role in Sunny Afternoon’s forthcoming UK tour! This weekend he also led the first full ‘Cover Kinks‘ matinée performance at the Harold Pinter.

So, as is now customary each month, we sent an Afternooner to put your questions to our chosen actor. This time, it was the turn of @Helzbels.

Vicki and Ryan
Vicki Manser and Ryan O’Donnell
Photo credit: @sunnyafternoonthemusical

Who would you rather play: Rasa or the diner girl?

I’m sure everyone would rather see me as diner girl… But people might get sick in their mouths if I were to kick my legs in the air like that! Plus I’m actually from near Bradford so feel confident in my accent, and I already know the words to This Strange Effect.

Who else would you like to play in the show?

Grenville. There’s a facet to me that isn’t being exploited in this job. My yuppie buffoon is actually quite good!

What was your favourite pre-Sunny job?

I love every job I’ve had really; it’s all part of one’s history and make-up. Tull took me round the world and introduced me to Ian’s music, which I love. And I made great friends along the way.

Quadrophenia was my dream job and role for years prior to landing the role. I wish the production was better – it has so much passion. Every cast member worked their fingers to the bone, poured their heart & soul into it and with such passion. Me especially. But we were fighting a lost battle…

Ryan rehearsing Dave
Photo credit: @sunnyafternoonthemusical

How do you feel when you go on to play Dave rather than Ray?

Dave is great. It’s very, very technical and if you get something wrong you can leave a fellow cast member with egg on their face, so the first one in a while is always uncomfortable – but then the second one is the most fun ever! It’s probably the best role in the show. People laugh at you and everything!

Do you try to type anything in particular during the typewriter scene?

No I don’t try to type anything particular, as I’m trying to make sure I hit one key and not two by accident. Because if you hit two the whole thing jams and you miss a couple of  beats/notes. However, in rehearsal the other week I was trying to type, “I want you all of the night”. It wasn’t that tricky.

How did your approach to playing Ray & Dave change with the new cast?

The new cast were far more forgiving. Largely because they were newer than us and they didn’t feel as much ownership, so it gave us more scope to play and have confidence.

Ray largely stayed the same as I still didn’t get any dedicated rehearsal, but Dave was far more playful & bold. Though the connection with Danny wasn’t the same as with John because our age/physique/approach to the role differed to how I’d learnt it.

The tour is giving me some dedicated rehearsal time as Ray so I can discuss and progress ideas & emotions rather than note them and try to wing them on the night. Plus I can tailor it to my ideas fully now rather than wearing someone else’s shoes each night.

Andrew Gallo, Mark Newnham, Ryan O’Donnell and Garmon Rhys
Photo credit: Richard Davenport

Ryan remains as alternate Ray at the Harold Pinter Theatre until mid-August. Sunny Afternoon begins its UK tour in Manchester on Friday 19 August 2016. All dates and tickets are available via the official website and ATG.


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