Dancing her way to success

Not only is Alannah Matthews on stage for Priscilla Queen of the Desert, she’s also the dance captain. Taranaki Community News caught up with her to find out about this fabulous and divalicious show hitting the stage in New Plymouth next month!

Hi Alannah! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do? 
So fun fact, I’m a bit of a professional ‘juggler’ ha-ha, multitasking 24/7. I have two jobs – by day I work for Pak’n Save New Plymouth as the compliance manager and payroll administrator and by night I’m a dance teacher for LGS Dance Studios teaching ballet, musical theatre, jazz, PBT classes and competition solos.

I love spending time with my family and our wolf pack made up of four miniature schnauzers – Freddy, Lola, Poppy and Buster. I live with my partner Shaun Murphy who is an architect at BOON – he also shares my passion for musical theatre, so as you can imagine there is never a dull moment in our household. Later on this year we are off to New York to fulfill my dream of seeing Broadway shows, with the intention to cram in as many shows as possible for the time we are there.

Alannah Matthews, front and centre, in Mamma Mia.
PHOTO CREDIT: Chris Hill

At the age of three, my mum enrolled me into ballet lessons because she wanted to make sure I had good posture, little did she know it would take me all over the world and become my most favourite thing to do. Every day I get to do what I love and pass on that love for dance to our Taranaki youth – plus yay mum I have good posture now too.

You are a woman of many talents and not only are you in Priscilla, but you’re also the dance captain! Can you tell us what you’ve been up to for that, and how the role is going?  
Haha thanks, so far so good. We have been in rehearsals for a number of weeks now and have started to get stuck into the routines. I have been learning all the ensemble numbers even the ones I’m not in to familiarise myself with the show so I know it inside out and upside down.

The music for this show is absolutely infectious so having a good time during rehearsals is a no brainer. I’m sure down the track as we approach opening night my role will increase, but for now the training wheels are on ☺

Alannah’s first Operatic show was Annie.
PHOTO CREDIT: Chris Hill

What’s the best thing about being involved in Priscilla?
It’s been two years since I was last onstage for Swing the Mood and even though I absolutely love creating it’s been awesome dusting off the shoes and getting stuck into dancing again.

I’m really enjoying working under the direction of Stephen Robertson and the onstage cast are a really cool bunch of people to be working alongside. Opening night, I can imagine I’m going to die of excitement of getting to perform again, ready and rearing to Shake my Groove Thing.

This isn’t your first time at the helm of movement for NPOS. Can you tell us how you first got involved with NPOS and what you have done with the society since then? 
My first show was Annie, I played the role of July the orphan. I auditioned because my best friend Emily Bain was auditioning and because my singing teacher (Jillian Suthon) was involved so I thought I would give it a whirl.

I didn’t appear again in an Operatic show again until Phantom of the Opera. I had just moved back from overseas and didn’t know anyone living in New Plymouth at the time so I thought it would be a great opportunity to meet people, so I was super stoked when I got into the onstage ensemble as a dancer.

From here I have been involved in several shows with Operatic: Mamma Mia – dance captain, Born in the USA, Sister Act – choreographer, Swing the Mood – choreographer, Les Mis – choreographer and now Priscilla YAY!

What is it about dancing that makes you love it so much?
Honestly it’s a hard thing to describe but it’s the feeling I get when I dance. Its pure enjoyment being able to express whatever I feel through movement. Whether it be sadness, happiness or wanting to break a sweat, every time I’m dancing I feel right at home and totally content. Last year I had a bad run with knee injuries which limited my movement and being able to get back into it for Priscilla has just been the best.

Priscilla Queen of the Desert opens on June 20 at the TSB Showplace.

If you could dance in any musical theatre show on Broadway, which one would you pick?
One? WOW that’s hard there are so many goodies!!!

Ultimate show to dance in would be The Lion King. It’s amazing – so good I’ve seen it twice. My top show to choreograph would be Jersey Boys or We Will Rock You ….NPOS hint, hint.

If you were to hit the stage as a drag queen (or king) what would your drag name be?
Silk across the Floor

You are hosting a dinner party and you can pick any three people from throughout history to come. Who do you pick?
Fosse / MJ / Parris Goebel

What’s your fav song to dance to?
Anything with a good beat.

Why should people come along to Priscilla
The music, the people, the entertainment – honestly if you want to have a good night out Priscilla is it. It’s fun, energetic, hilarious and visually mind blowing… my question would be to people tossing up whether to come – why wouldn’t you?

Can people follow you on social media?
Sure thing! Instagram – miss_alannahm