We catch up with Miriam-Teak Lee and Siena Kelly
By Open Air Theatre
Making their professional debuts at the Open Air Theatre, we caught up with Miriam-Teak Lee and Siena Kelly who are playing Claire and Ivy in On The Town.
“crisp-as-Vermouth, towering, scissor-legged Miriam-Teak Lee is so delicious that you wonder where she has been hiding… only to discover that this is, astoundingly, her professional debut.” (The Stage)
“All three (Lee, Kelly and Lizzy Connolly) are superb dancers, but McOnie makes Kelly work most during the lengthy dance sequences and you can see why. She is excellent.” (WhatsOnStage)
What first inspired you to get into theatre?
Miriam-Teak Lee When I was about four my mum took me to a local school called Morgan Aslanoff, my brother Dex Lee joined and we became duet partners. Doing dance competitions improved my confidence massively, but it was my mother who always told me to believe in myself and forever preached that practice makes perfect. I always loved role play! I used to have an alter ego called Miss Miriam, who was very sophisticated and well spoken; she would spend hours in conversation with my mother – I was seven! Acting is all about the imagination and I love that.
Siena Kelly My dad loves old-school movie musicals so I grew up watching classic MGM musicals all the time. My oldest sister loved musicals, so we would watch them together on repeat. I think it was Cyd Charisse in Singin’ in the Rain and Anita in West Side Story that made me fall in love with them.
Tell us about your time at ArtsEd?
SK Training was a lot more difficult than I had anticipated. The hours are ridiculously long and it was mentally and physically draining. However, the training I received at ArtsEd was incredible. The teachers are so dedicated to the students and I loved how I was able to work on all three disciplines equally.
MTL I had an amazing time. A teacher once said that the school gives you a whole toolbox to help you as a performer, but not every tool works for everyone so it’s about picking and choosing what works for you and creating you’re own toolbox. That resonated with me so deeply and meant that I got the best out of my time at Arts, and discovered so much about myself as a performer.
How is the experience of your first professional job going?
MTL I can’t even explain how extraordinary this job has been, and still is! Every single day I am inspired by the people that I share the stage with every night. I still can’t believe how lucky I am to be playing Claire in On The Town at Regent’s Park Open air Theatre as my very first professional job! It’s just crazy, it’s like I don’t want to blink just in case I miss it!
SK This job has been a dream! I’ve loved it so much and couldn’t ask for a better experience. The cast are so incredibly talented that initially I felt very intimidated in the rehearsal room, but luckily everyone has been nothing but supportive and kind to me. I’m so honoured that Drew McOnie trusted me to be in this production. I can not thank him enough for all the countless incredible opportunities he has given me. The first time I worked with him (at National Youth Ballet) was when I decided that I wanted to seriously try and be an actor.
How have you found performing outdoors?
SK Performing outdoors has been interesting. I think the biggest thing for me is that you can see the audience and their reactions until it reaches around 10pm. Also, acting in scenes that are set indoors when it’s spitting, or really windy, always makes me giggle.
MTL Performing outdoors has been surreal! There’s something really beautiful about having absolutely no control over animals and insects. In moments of stillness a bird could fly across the stage or even perch at the end of it. Butterflies can weave in and out of scenes, and oddly enough it brings a beautiful togetherness between the audience and the cast because we can all see it happening; it just adds a whole other layer to the show!
What actors inspire you?
MTL Idris Elba inspires me, as does Eddie Redmane and Matt Damon, which is hilarious because they are all male, but I find them all mesmerising to watch. I also love Meryl Streep as she defies the phrase ‘type-cast’!
SK I think Cate Blanchett and Sophia Okonedo are incredible. I have a whole big list of actors and actresses who just astound me with their talent, commitment and detail but it’s a very long list so I won’t bore you with that.
It is just the beginning of your career, but do you have a dream role?
SK In terms of musical theatre, I would love to play Kathy Seldon in Singin’ in the Rain and Roxie Hart in Chicago. I’d love to play Dido Elizabeth Belle in a TV series about her life.
MTL Felicia in Memphis! That is such a brilliant role and when I saw Beverly Knight do it I just completely fell in love!
What’s your favourite moment in On The Town?
MTL Singing “Some Other Time” not only is it a beautiful song, it’s really poignant; we look inside the minds of these four lovers and see them come to terms with the fact that they will never see each other again.
SK My favourite part is the Times Square Ballet at the end of Act 1. I’m not in it until the very last section, so I watch from the wings. Every single night I feel proud watching everyone completely smash it.
What’s your favourite line in On The Town?
SK “Sex and art don’t mix. If it did, I would’ve gone straight to the top”.
MTL “Unless there’s love, the world’s an empty place”
On The Town runs until 1 July. Book tickets.
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