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ice little earner Covid care worker turned West End actress Sarah O'Connor on her role as Anna in Frozen

Sarah lost her job in musical theatre because of the pandemic


Sarah says she's thrilled to be back working in theatre after the pandemic lockdowns

Sarah says she's thrilled to be back working in theatre after the pandemic lockdowns

Sarah says she's thrilled to be back working in theatre after the pandemic lockdowns

AN Irish actress is wowing huge audiences as Anna in the smash hit West End production of Frozen.

Dubliner Sarah O'Connor had to get a job as a care worker last year after she lost her job in musical theatre because of the pandemic.

She is understudy to Stephanie McKeon as Anna, one of the two principal roles in the Disney production.

But while Sarah also takes part in ensemble sequences in London's famed Drury Lane, she has got to play the top billing role of Anna on several occasions whenever Stephanie can't.

Frozen, which was first released as a film in 2013, is loosely based on Hans Christian Andersen's The Snow Queen and is set in the fictional kingdom of Arendelle.

"We pretty much do all the same scenes and I have a few extra scenes as a handmaiden with one of the other girls as well, which is good fun," Sarah (32) tells the Sunday World.

"We do everything, like being among the hidden folk. If there's a group scene we are in it. But it is nice to have the first few scenes as the handmaiden as well for Anna."


Sara backstage at the Frozen the stage show

Sara backstage at the Frozen the stage show

Sara backstage at the Frozen the stage show

She explains the concept of the Norwegian inspired kingdom in Frozen. "It's loosely based in Scandinavia. It's not a real place, but the whole vibe of the show, costumes, is very Scandinavian, and it is in a time past. It's not specific where or what year, but I guess that's the point of Disney," she says.

"They can just bring you into the world they've imagined for you and where you are and what time of life it is, it doesn't matter, you just delve deep straight into the story and you just go with it."

She loves filling in for the role of Anna.

"It is such a fun part to play and it's really full on, you don't leave the stage for long and if you're off you're changing wigs or makeup or costumes, so it's pretty busy," she reveals.

"There is the pressure of wanting to do it justice and to uphold this Disney production, I guess, the level of the show.

"But I think the fun outweighs the pressure, I think it's more pressure from yourself than anyone else. The company have obviously given you the responsibility because they believe in you.

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"It's a very technical show, and while you're onstage it's not just about getting your lines right, it's about being in the right place, with the magic at the right time and all these different elements."

Sarah hails from Lucan and studied at the Westside stage school in the west Dublin town before doing musical theatre in Essex after her Leaving Cert.

She won a part in Mamma Mia! 10 years ago.

"I've done some difficult roles," she explains. "But when it comes to all the elements, singing dancing, stunts, puppeteers, magic, Frozen is definitely the busiest and the most technical production I've ever done.

Elsa's song Let It Go is perhaps the best known in Frozen, while Anna's main track is For The First Time In Forever.

"I was a huge fan of Frozen and it was such a huge box office hit when it came out and hit the screens and no one knew anything about it," she recalls.

"It was so different. It's about two sisters and their relationship. It's full of magic and it was just a completely new story and everyone always wants to know the newest story from Disney.

"To hear that it was getting put on stage, I was like 'how are they going to do this, and this, and this?' and it just blew my mind with it every night, the team are incredible what they've managed to do on stage and with loads of new tricks too."

After Mamma Mia! Sarah got a part in Les Misérables, before landing her first major role as Imelda Quirke in the West End production of The Commitments.

"Getting that phone call to say I was going to play Imelda Quirke was incredible, that was in the Palace Theatre," she recalls.

Sarah had previously taken part in RTÉ talent show Fame, which was presented by Derek Mooney. A dozen competitors took part in it, including eventual co-winner Jessica Cervi .

Both Sarah and Jessica got to star in the stage version of The Commitments.

"It was such an honour to do something that was so iconic in Ireland. It was just so cool. I loved working with so many Irish people and getting to be with my countrymen every day was so nice. I made some really good friends on that," she explains.

She hopes the stage version of Frozen can come to Ireland.

"It's been over the world now, but this is the first time it has been done in England," she says.

"I've no idea if it will go to Ireland but to get to play an amazing musical in my home country, I will always say yes to do that, but I don't know what Disney's plans are for that."

Sarah lost her job last year while taking part in the musical Waitress.

"Just at the beginning of the pandemic, Sajid Javid (UK health minister) said 'we need more carers'," she recalls.

"I found myself without a job, so I said 'let's get stuck into this'. I'm at a good age group, I'm at the healthier age group of low risk and I decided to go out and do something in it.

"I had quite a few different jobs in it, in the year waiting for Frozen to happen, so it was a tough year."

Many of her colleagues left showbiz.

"So many people left the industry because it was too long to be out, so there were big career changes," she says.

"We were treated so badly as an industry during the pandemic, we were the last to open and the first to close, so it was really tough."

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