Takin’ Charge: An Interview with Megan O’Connor
By April Rideout
I first met Megan O’Connor after one of the shows for Oh, the Humanity! where I awkwardly gave her a hug and ever since then she has been one of my closest friends at Brelby. I have been in two shows that she stage managed (She Kills Monsters and Angel’s Alley) and both times have been an absolute blast. She has repeatedly shown that her dedication and organizational skills have been indispensable in productions that she stage manages. Onstage, she can deliver quick wit and confidence that can be so relatable for theater goers that enjoy strong female heroines. We definitely need more of those.
Megan O’Connor is one of the two new company members here at Brelby Theatre Company! Megan joined Brelby officially a year ago with her role as Sadie in Oh, the Humanity! and has been involved in four main stage productions (Oh, the Humanity!, She Kills Monsters, Revenge of the Space Pandas, 12 Days of Christmas) and two studio series shows (The Princess and the Pirate and Angel’s Alley) either onstage or behind the scenes as a stage manager. Also, Megan was a part of the Miscast Concert last fall where she performed the show-stopping number of “Agony” from Into the Woods with Jessie Tully. At the moment, she is in the ensemble for Little Women and rotates in as Dotty Dot, Mrs. Dot, or Mary Beth during performances for Dotty Dot! (A New Children’s Musical). Later on this season, she will be portraying Marcie in the studio series show, Fangirl, where she will also do costume, hair, and makeup design, as well as stage managing the summer blockbuster Beyond Musketeers: Utopia Lost!
April: What would you bring to the table as a Company member?
Megan: I think I bring leadership and confidence. I hope I can serve as a role model for our younger members and I want to learn about areas in theater that I am not as familiar with.
April: How would you define being a leader?
Megan: Being a leader isn’t about being loud, I’m just loud naturally and it definitely makes me a good stage manager. But I think being a good leader is about your attitude and the example that you set.
April: How would you describe Brelby?
Megan: Brelby is really different than I initially thought it would be. I was really intimidated to come work at a professional theatre with people who study this and do this professionally, but they welcome people of varying expertise and experience. Everyone is very professional, but it is definitely a different environment.
April: How would you describe your first experience with Brelby?
Megan: I really loved it and I had a lot of fun. I feel like I didn’t know what I was doing all the time and I still feel that way a little bit, but I am having a blast. I’ve decided to try not caring too much when I feel stupid. I am just going to own it.
April: What is your favorite show that you have done with Brelby?
Megan: My favorite show that I have done has been She Kills Monsters for sure. It was the first show where I felt like I really understood my role. Stage managing made sense to me because some of those duties were things I already did normally. I felt I was contributing to the show in a really important way and my job made sense to me. I loved that show. Just being able to help create and make it the special thing that it turned out to be was really cool.
April: Since She Kills Monsters was your favorite, describe your initial response to the rehearsal process.
Megan: From the very first read through, it was kind of perfect. It just felt good.
April: How did you meet me?
Megan: I knew who you were and I have a gift for remembering everything. I saw you in Through the Mist and a bunch of cabarets where I thought you had a great voice. I had seen you in Love’s Labour’s Lost as well where I snuck out the back door and didn’t really talk to anybody afterward. Then you came to Oh, the Humanity! and I was standing next to Mat in a line in the lobby after the show was over. You gave Mat a hug and then you gave me a hug. I thought that was funny because we didn’t really know each other. I consider us officially having met then, but we actually got to know each other at the She Kills Monsters cast bonding party. My initial impression was that you were super talented and really sweet.
April: What has been the most challenging thing about stage managing and acting?
Megan: Stage managing is something I feel I do naturally, but it has been incredibly challenging getting to know what all the stage terminology means. During She Kills Monsters, David wanted a cue to know where we were in the script, but I had no idea what he was talking about.
Every director is different and the way that they talk to you is different. This is also true of the things that they need from you. Brian has lots of random thoughts and at the end of the night I have notes on everything. There was a point where he mentioned wanting a certain light cue and I wasn’t entirely sure of what he meant but I wrote it down anyway. On the other hand, some directors you have to be on top of by prompting them with questions to gauge exactly what they want and need done. I’ve learned a lot of theater terminology since being a stage manager for four shows.
I think being backstage has really prepared me for being on stage. I’ve gotten to watch a lot of talented people come through and see them tackle different roles. This may sound ridiculous but my most challenging acting role has been in Revenge of the Space Pandas. This was because I did Oh, the Humanity! and then nothing acting related between that and Revenge of the Space Pandas. I don’t think it was the break so much as being cast in my second role with lines. Carolyn was such a great director for Revenge of the Space Pandas and Fernando gave me good notes as well. This was honestly my first character that I had that was not me. Sadie was sassy and spunky and I could just be myself. There was no reason for her to be like anyone other than me. I can’t relate to Mrs. Rudich because I am not a mom and I am not from the ‘70’s, so I really had to think about that character quite a bit. Carolyn was able to help me develop the character and pull some choices out of me.
April: What friendships have you made since joining Brelby?
Megan: Everyone is very welcoming and really goes out of their way to get to know everybody; there honestly aren’t many people I could picture Brelby without. Oh, the Humanity! was interesting in that there was so many new people so we all just bonded together. Mat has been my closest friend here aside from Shelby and Brian, who I have known forever. He has been the one who stuck by me and given me a lot of advice, support, and encouragement. Hopefully, I have been as good a friend to him as he has been to me. Colleen has been a close friend as well. She is one of my favorite people, we are a lot alike and have a lot of similar ideas. We always have a lot to talk about and have been having Book Club together for months. She has the best attitude and lives life and does what she wants and I have all the respect in the world for her. There are lots of people at Brelby that I can’t imagine not speaking to constantly, people like you [April] and Jamie Terran. There’s been a lot of people I am constantly having coffee with and talking to. My life is completely different this year than it was last year.”
April: What are you most excited about this upcoming Brelby season?
Megan: I am really excited for Musketeers. There was a lot of success last season with Monsters and I think that the tradition of having a big blockbuster show during the summer is going to be very beneficial for Brelby. The fact that it is a whole new world brought to life in the show and is something completely different from what anyone has ever seen, that ability to take a familiar story in a new direction is very fun. I hope it is as successful as Monsters was with an extension or that we have the possibility to think about extending the run of the show. I am really excited about seeing that and being in Fangirl. I have been looking forward to Fangirl since we read it last summer.
I am also really excited to costume design for the first time. Because Fangirl is a modern day show and the costumes will be simple, I want to come up with different ways for the characters to look. I’ve been thinking a lot about how I can show that these girls are friends and into nerdy fandoms but still make them different. They all have Comic Con costumes at the end and I am already looking up how to make Vulcan ears.
April: What are your other plans/goals for the summer?
Megan: I am doing the intensive this summer and am going to try playwriting. I love to write and I have my blog, but we’ll see if I can translate writing into anything beneficial, other than a super fun blog.
April: What would your dream role in a show be, male or female?
Megan: This is such a cop out answer, because I just read this show and it’s the only one I’m thinking about, but either of the two roles in Constellations by Nick Payne. Constellations is about a couple going through every possible scenario that can happen in a relationship from the time they meet until the relationship ends basically. You find out new pieces of information about their relationship as the story progresses and I just thought the script was brilliant and had a lot of heart.
April: What are you looking forward to this year, personally?
Megan: I am looking forward to this opportunity to be part of the Company and to see how art will fit in my life. If it’s something I can do as more than just a hobby. I like it and it is something I am definitely passionate about. I feel that you need art in your life. But, is it something that I could or should really invest this kind of time in? For now I’m having a lot of fun, so I guess we’ll see.