Known for his roles on screen and stage, David O’Reilly has just finished a West End run in The Catherine Tate Show – Live which played at Wyndham’s Theatre after touring in Australia and New Zealand. David voiced the role of Chobado in the full series of Furiki Wheels and had guest appearances in ITV’s hit TV show Benidorm as Bean. Recently, David chatted to us about performing in Lady Windermere’s Fan, being in the West End cast of The Book of Mormon and working on The Catherine Tate Show – Live.
When did you find out you’d booked The Catherine Tate Show – Live?
I found out early April last year. I had just finished Lady Windermere’s Fan and I had gone to Dublin to see my parents. Catherine rang me and spoke to me about the tour and asked if I would be interested, obviously I screamed YES.
What was it like touring Australia and New Zealand?
It was an incredible experience. We were treated so wonderfully, which was really down to Catherine herself and Paul Robinson our Producer/Promoter. We got to visit so many beautiful cities. We met so many wonderful people. It’s a dream come true when you get to do a job you love but when you get to travel to beautiful places you may never have gone to as well, that can be just completely overwhelming. Some highlights would be Rotness Island in Perth when we met the Quokkas, watching the sunset on Cottesloe Beach, visiting Australia Zoo just outside Brisbane, spending time with family in Sydney, visitng Christchurch and finishing the tour at a sold out 3000 seated arena in Auckland.
How did you find the West End run?
I loved it. It was great to be back in town for a while, however, the three weeks absolutely flew by. The Wyndham’s Theatre is beautiful and everyone there is equally as nice. We all had so many guests come and visit the show. The audiences were brilliant and their love for the show was amazing to witness. British comedy is really some of the best in the world and Catherine had the audiences every show in the palm of her hand.
How long were you rehearsing for the show?
For the tour we rehearsed the show for two weeks in a rehearsal room. For a third week we moved to a sound stage where we tech’d the show. That means all lighting, sound, videography, costume, hair, makeup departments could have time to rehearse everything they needed to. We then had a day of rehearsals and a day of tech in Perth and then we opened. For the West End run we did a refresh day, a tech day and then we did a dress rehearsal and then we opened.
Had you done anything like this previously?
I had done comedy before but I had never done Sketch. It was such a learning curve. During the show I was six different characters with six different accents in six different scenarios so it was a real education in pace, characterisation, diversity, concentration and practice. I was fascinated at how elequently Catherine took to each of the characters, so watching her and the fellow castmates was a real part of my rehearsal process. The audiences love big characters and catchphrases and callbacks.
What was it like working with Catherine Tate?
It was amazing. She’s a real pro and knows exactly what she wants. I admire that and I admire her eye for detail. I learned a lot from her about comedy in regards to timing and choices. She is so respectful of her audience particularly during the participation parts, she can really tell if someone is uncomfortable and she will not pursue something with them if she knows or feels that. I really respect that as it’s oh so easy to go for the easy option and she doesn’t. She always says thank you to the audience and will always make time for anyone who recognises her whether that be at stage door, walking down the street or at the airport.
Can you tell us about Cecil Graham in Lady Windermere’s Fan?
Well, Cecil was the first character I ever played in a straight play. He finds himself at the epicentre of drama in the play by discovering something and bringing it to light not knowing that it will have massive repercussions for other characters. If he was around now, he would be a Gossip Columnist for sure. He has some incredible one-liners and witticisms throughout his appearances which are a total joy to say. Kathy Burke was amazing at letting me discover some real menace in the character but also some real cowardliness. He was a bit twat really but a loveable one I hope. HA.
How long were you performing in this role?
I performed in this role for three months. Relatively short run. Lady Windermere’s Fan was part of the Classic Spring’s year-long celebration of Oscar Wilde.
What can you say about your appearances as Bean in Benidorm?
I LOVE BENIDORM. I miss it so much, as a viewer and as a guest actor. It was one of the best jobs ever. Benidorm was my first TV role and I was so nervous as I really wanted to do a good job. I loved playing Bean because he is so far removed from me and who I am so that was great as it was a challenge. The writing is at the heart of why Benidorm was so successful and Derren Litten is a legend. He created an amazing character in Bean and I just hope I was able to do it justice.
What was it like to film?
It was honestly one of the best experiences. We filmed in Benidorm itself so it was always so exciting to go out for filming. I know it sounds like a cliché but the Benidorm team were a real family and anybody like myself who was there for a shorter time was welcomed with open arms. They’re a team who work so hard and their love for the show is palpable. I got to do a scene with some really British comedy legends and I will be forever grateful for that incredible opportunity. The hotel that is used for filming is fully functional and have guests on holiday. It’s lovely to see the love they have for the show and the cast and indeed, Derren.
How was the experience recording the role of Chobado in Furiki Wheels?
It was such a fun job. The 52 episodes were recorded over a year and a half so was sad when we finished. It was my first time doing any voiceover work and again, it was a joy from beginning to end. The cast were such pros and real voiceover elite so I felt somewhat out of my dept but they taught me so much. You’ve got more to think about than you would imagine. So it was a great lesson.
You were in the West End cast of The Book of Mormon, what was it like understudying the role of Elder Arnold Cunningham?
Some people say being an understudy or standby can be hard and I understand that but for me it was a positive experience. You have to mentally prepare yourself that one day you could be playing a lead with Judi Dench, Kathy Burke or Kylie Minogue in the audience and the next you’re in a dressing room and don’t know when you’ll be on next. I was very lucky to do other things during my five years at Mormon. I got to perform opposite some incredible performers and work with some of the hardest working swings and understudies in the business.
What made you choose an acting career?
Well, I am a bit of a showoff so it seemed like a natural fit. Ha. Seriously it just felt computable, I loved getting to perform and was given the opportunity to train so I took it. I was never smart smart in school and it always felt like an effort to study. There really is no other business like it.
Are there any theatre or TV shows you would recommend seeing?
You must go see Come From Away, it’s one of the best things I have ever seen. I’ve seen it twice and I cannot wait to watch for a third time. I have a big list of theatre to see and I can’t wait to see Only Fools and Horses the Musical. TV-wise I cannot wait for Killing Eve Season Two, I also cannot wait for the new series of The Crown. Fyre on Netflix is definitely one to watch.
What are your career plans for this year?
Careerwise I’m just happy to get the opportunity to work at something I love. I promised myself to try new things this year, as in different avenues of this business. Finding the balance between career and self care is an important recipe of longevity.
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