A quick chat with Blood Brothers’ Helen Dallimore

Helen Dallimore is one of our most accomplished musical theatre performers (and directors!) You’ve seen her on stage in anything from Spring Awakening to Legally Blonde – not to mention originating the role of Glinda in Wicked on the West End. Most recently, she was nominated for a Helpmann Award for her role in the Sydney season of Blood Brothers. Now that the show is about to start performances in Melbourne, we caught up with Helen to ask her 20 questions about her life and career.

1.If you had to describe your occupation to an alien new to Earth, how would you do it?

Helen Dallimore.
Helen Dallimore.

I’m paid currency to make strange sounds with my mouth, called “singing” and move my body pretending to be someone I’m not. It’s an ancient human ritual with the purpose of entertaining other humans, who pay currency to sit in rows and hit their hands together when they like it. If they really like it they stand up. It’s a kind of barter system.

2. You’ve been incredibly busy lately – what was the highlight of the past 12 months for you?

Playing Mrs Johnstone (in Blood Brothers) has been the most challenging and rewarding role, not only of the last twelve months, but probably my career.

3. How do you unwind and relax?

Well last night I binge watched Mad Men. I also love baths. I often have to share them with my four year old though, which is less relaxing. He wants to play boats. On me!

4.  What’s the most-used app on your phone?

The music app – I listen to music on my phone whenever I’m in the car. I am also a very aggressive Words With Friends player.

5. You received a Helpmann Award nomination for this role, following your Sydney performance – congratulations! – and another show you were involved with, Masquerade, has also been nominated. Which Helpmann recognised show (apart from your own!) got you excited as an audience member?

I loved Les Mis, I thought the performances were stunning.

6. What’s your guilty pleasure?

Chocolate and cheese. Both the food groups.

7. If you could play any role, regardless of age, gender, etc. – what would it be?

I’d love to play Martha in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolfe? Also Lili in Kiss Me Kate.

8. What really excites about you about the Australian musical theatre scene?

The new up and coming producers, like Enda Markey and The Hayes Theatre Company, who are changing the face of musical theatre at the moment, as is reflected in the Helpmann Awards of late. There is a lot of encouragement of new musicals at the moment, too, which is very exciting.

Helen Dallimore in Blood Brothers. Image by Kurt Sneddon.
Helen Dallimore in Blood Brothers. Image by Kurt Sneddon.

9. What frustrates you about it?

I worry that new shows don’t get enough of a workshop process before they are produced, so the work is not seen at it’s best and then dies before it’s reached it’s potential.

10. What has been your best (and/or worst!) onstage mishap?

I fell through a coffee table with another actor in a West End show, which was both hilarious and mortifying. They called it “Tablegate”.

11. There isn’t enough theatre about…

There aren’t enough new comedies. I love to laugh and I would love to see some more really funny comic work being produced. There is often a tendency towards earnestness and worthiness in commissioning and programming – what about some good old fashioned laugh-out-loud entertainment?

12. You’re directing High Society for the Hayes theatre later this year – what’s your favourite Cole Porter number?

‘So In Love’. I love KD Lang’s version on the Red Hot and Blue album.

13. Whose advice do you always take?

My Mum’s.

14. What’s your best party trick?

I can spot harmonise to anything. I have a third always ready and waiting.

15. When did you first discover Blood Brothers?

I saw the Chrissie Amphlett production, here in Sydney.

16. The show is built around superstition. Are you superstitious at all?

Helen Dallimore and Louis Fontaine in Masquerade. Photo by Brett Boardman.
Helen Dallimore and Louis Fontaine in Masquerade. Photo by Brett Boardman.

Unfortunately, yes, although I know it’s completely irrational. I would NEVER put shoes on a table, new or otherwise. Or hats on a bed. I avoid the number 13 and I would not like to break a mirror. It’s ridiculous.

17. The show received a really positive critical and audience response in Sydney. What do you think it is about the show that connects with audiences in Australia in 2015?

The show is timeless because it deals with the underdog, the downtrodden members of society, of whom Mrs Johnstone is one. She is optimistic and never a victim, but she is ultimately a player in a rigged game. It deals with these very moving issues with great humour and lots of laughs, so the audience is really taken on a journey.

18. How does it feel to be working on Blood Brothers again?

It’s so great to get a chance to do a role again. There’s a confidence in knowing you’ve done it before, you know how to do it and on top of that explore even more detail and nuance and make it even better than it was before.

19. Tell us a bit about the Alex Theatre, since it’s such a new space.

I’m yet to see it, but I hear from my producer that it’s fabulous. It’s a great size for this show. We need more medium size venues in this country. It’s a great location, too. St Kilda is my favourite place in Melbourne – everything is on your doorstep.

20. When can we see you in Blood Brothers?

From July 16th for three weeks only! Quick! (Book your tickets here: http://bloodbrothersmusical.com.au)

Cassie Tongue

Cassie is a theatre critic and arts writer in Sydney, and is the deputy editor of AussieTheatre. She has written for The Guardian, Time Out Sydney, Daily Review, and BroadwayWorld Australia. She is a voter for the Sydney Theatre Awards.

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