Any Further Questions: Ryan O'Donnell | Living North

Any Further Questions: Ryan O'Donnell


SUNNY AFTERNOON TOUR - Garmon Rhys (Pete Quaife), Ryan O'Donnell (Ray Davies), Andrew Gallo (Mick Avory) and Mark Newnham (Dave
We had a natter with Ryan O’Donnell, leading man in the new Kinks musical Sunny Afternoon, about waking up on Broadway and why he wants to be reincarnated as Roger Daltrey

How did you get into performing?

I went to a place called The Actors’ Workshop in Halifax. It was set up by a guy called Mike Ward, who’s a lovely man. It got many kids off the streets and into acting, it’s still going now. 

What other career would you have liked to pursue?
I’d love to have taken music more seriously so I could compose shows or musicals. Something which I’m still flirting with the idea of. 

How would you describe Sunny Afternoon?
People will go to the show because it’s a show about British culture but it’s actually a story between two brothers and how they pioneered a particular genre of music. They were pioneers, not necessarily perfectionists. I feel like The Kinks compare to our football; we invented it but we aren’t the best in the world at it. 

What is your favourite Kinks track?
I fall in and out of love with a different one every couple of months. I really do love ‘Set Me Free’ and ‘Sunny Afternoon’ though. 

What has been the best moment of your entire career?
That’s a tricky question. I got to play Jimmy in Quadrophenia and that was my dream role of all time. I was in awe from day one and I still am now. I toured for about four and a half years previously and the first time I woke up on our tour bus, we were parked outside the Beacon Theatre in New York. There was a sign directly opposite that read ‘Broadway’. It was surreal.

What has been the biggest challenge?
This role has been the biggest challenge. I had the music in my body already for Quadrophenia and it took plenty of energy and passion but it didn't take the control, dynamic and specificity that this role takes. It’s very detailed and Ray has a lot more going on behind the eyes than your regular chap. It’s difficult to portray that on stage but I think I’m getting there. I don’t think I’d be playing the part if I hadn’t got there.

How would you spend a full day off?
Normally, it would only be one day. I’d spend it with my best friend in an area of London, with a roast dinner either in the sun in summer or by the fire in winter. 

Where is your favourite place in London?
I love Hampstead, as cliched as that sounds; some of the pubs up there are gorgeous especially in winter. I live in Crystal Palace and it doesn’t take itself too seriously. Being a Northerner I appreciate that. 

Where and when was your last holiday?
I went to Bali and that was in November last year. I had a few days in Greece too. 

What was your favourite thing about Bali? 
The food. The food is amazing, we went to all sorts of restaurants around Ubud and the food had a different taste to anything I’ve ever had over here. 

If you could swap places with one person (living or dead) for a day, who would it be and why? 
I’d say Roger Daltrey as I’d love to sing alongside Pete Townshend or witness his work in the rehearsal studio back in the late 60s or early 70s, when he was creating the Quadrophenia album. 

Who is the most famous person you have met? 
Jimmy Page, the lead guitarist of Led Zeppelin. 

What was the last text you sent? 
I sent a text asking the guys from the cast if they have any apartments booked for Glasgow where we’re touring, as I think I just found one. 

See Sunny Afternoon at Sunderland Empire from 4–8 October. For more information or to book tickets visit

Published in: September 2016

Follow us on Instagram

Never miss an issue... Subscribe

Social Channels

Follow us on Instagram