Andrew O'Keefe Deals The Pirate King

  • Written by  Nicholas Atkins
  • Thursday, 22 January 2015 10:04
Published in Arts  
Andrew O'Keefe in Pirates Of Penzance Andrew O'Keefe in Pirates Of Penzance
Television star Andrew O'Keefe is returning to musical theatre as the Pirate King in Harvest Rain's upcoming 'Pirates Of Penzance' production.

Having studied singing for six years and achieving a diploma in classical singing, Andrew will relish the chance to showcase his pipes as well as his acting chops. “Singing for me is one of life's great pursuits, it's something that makes me truly happy. It’s undeniable that singing sets up a beautiful vibration in your body that makes the rest of your life seem like it's very manageable. And the acting is always fun. Who doesn't like pretending to be someone else? There's something a little bit kinky about that profession really isn't there?”

Andrew will take on the pirates as their king in the classic Gilbert and Sullivan production. “Older audience members will already love the production, because anyone who knows musical theatre loves Gilbert and Sullivan. For younger people who don't know anything about G and S and 'Pirates', I guess the important thing about this musical is that it's incredibly silly and it's incredibly fun. And it's jam-packed full of good tunes. Gilbert and Sullivan were I think the Monty Pythons of their day. It was that absurdity of approach and that brilliance of execution that everyone loves about them.”

The show will run in March, with rehearsals only starting in February. “This is the way the Harvest Rain people work, they do lovely discreet short runs of terrific shows with a breakneck intensive rehearsal period beforehand.”

Andrew recalls a painful association with his first musical theatre outing last year. “I'm actually loathe to use the term breakneck now that I think of it because the last time I was in Queensland was for 'Jesus Christ Superstar' and I pretty much did break my neck! We had done about 19 shows and had a few left when I burst a disc in my neck on stage flinging Jesus around.”

Messiah-related neck injuries aside, Andrew loved the experience of playing King Herod in the updated 1970s rock-musical. “It was magnificent. Tim [Minchin] as we all know is a nutty, idiosyncratic genius. What I didn't know was that he was such an incredible actor as well as a great singer. His Judas was, by common acclaim, absolutely searing. Mel C [ex-Spice Girl] had just such a beautiful soulful voice and presence and it was a great honour to work with her too.”

Andrew's introduction to theatre was by no means typical. “When your first production is bank-rolled by Andrew Lloyd-Webber and you are working with stars of that calibre and you're playing to ten or twelve thousand people a night, it can give you a somewhat false impression of what life in musical theatre might actually be like.”

The transition from TV to theatre was not as difficult as may be expected. “Having worked with many, many audiences over the years, shooting 'Deal [Or No Deal]' and other slabs of nonsense, I felt prepared.”

The future holds more of the same for Andrew who will continue his new found love affair with theatre, while maintaining his long time marriage to television. “I'd definitely like to keep mixing [theatre and television]. I'm not done with TV yet, I don't know if I have entirely mastered that medium so I love the idea of working more in TV, but more and more I'd like to be dipping into musical theatre and other forms of theatre.

"It really is something that does expand your soul and inflate your heart. It just makes you happy to be a part of it. And working in a company is something that's very uplifting. Often life in TV you can feel quite isolated. Rehearsing a big, live, silly show like 'Pirates' with a whole bunch of extremely talented and dedicated people is a very motivating thing.”

'Pirates Of Penzance' plays at Queensland Performing Arts Centre, 19-22 March.


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