On the Couch with Johanna Allen

Johanna_Allen oncWho is Johanna Allen?
Singer, Actor, Writer, Director, Producer, Educator. I have a strong sense of social justice. I am a maker of music, and a lover of words.  I also eat way more Nutella than I should.

What would you do differently to what you do now?
I don’t know that there is anything I would have done differently to now  – maybe more time out for travel but the world is still there so I’m working on it!

Who inspires you and why?
Creatively so many… Emma Thompson, Renee Flemming, Kate Mulvany, Pamela Rabe, Kellie O Hara, Kate Cebrano (whom I had the pleasure of working with at the Adelaide Cabaret Festival in her time as Artistic Director). Basically artists who do it all.  Emma Thompson whom I adore has an Oscar for script writing, is acclaimed as an actress, and has just played Mrs Lovett with Brynn Terfel.  That’s my kind of role model! Harold Arlen – In making this show I have got to know his music and life intimately.  Those songs sit in your soul and stay there… Sassy strong songs – filled with the blues and with melody that makes you soar and ache. He was an underdog in life, and somewhat of an enigma, but his music is known everywhere.  There’s an interesting story in that!

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
Kindness – in every day situations, to the people you love and the strangers you don’t. I actively try to get out of my own head enough to give something back. Not with money but in all the other ways we can connect.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
New York is my spirit animal. I studied there. I love it. It’s my other home and I want to go back.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take then to, and why?
Hmm… is there anything better than sitting in the sunshine in Melbourne with a good coffee? Maybe a meal at the European and a stroll through the Fitzroy Gardens after.

What are you currently reading?
Hmm… emails… lots of them to prepare and produce a show. There is a reading list… I just haven’t got to it much. I re-read Atonement recently. I adore that book. And film.

What are you currently listening to?
My itunes is one eclectic place – Ella Fitzgerald, Powderfinger, Snow Patrol and Bach all featured this morning at the gym.

Happiness is?
An active choice. Sometimes. Other times  sleep, warmth,  and a hug from that special someone.

What does the future hold for you?
I am really excited to perform The Songs that got Away at Melbourne Recital Centre. Everyone is raving about it as a venue and it’s my first time there. Can’t wait! Then we hit the Noosa Long Weekend Festival after that so bring on the sun!

Johanna Allen has established a career as one of Australia’s most versatile singer/actors. After graduating with both a B.A. (Drama Performance and Direction) and Bachelor of Music Performance (Hons Classical Voice, Elder Conservatorium), she won a scholarship to study with Daniel Ferro, Juilliard School, New York. There she continued her training in Music and Acting.

Johanna’s recent theatre credits include Wicked and Dr Zhivago for the Gordon Frost Organisation, the roles of Marcy in Dogfight and Carlotta in Phantom of the Opera for Neil Gooding Productions, Mrs O’Brien in The Production Company’s Showboat and Emma Goldman in Assassins for Watch This Melbourne. Her self-written cabaret The Songs That Got Away – the music of Harold Arlen has had sell out seasons at the Hayes Theatre Sydney and the Adelaide Cabaret Festival.

Johanna is passionate about the development of new work within theatre and music, and has played the role of Oriel in new development of Cloudstreet the Opera, with music by George Palmer and words by Tim Winton. Other developments include Do Good and You Will Be Happy for Merrigong Theatre, and numerous others

Roles include The Baker’s Wife in Into the Woods (GFO), The Threepenny Opera (Sydney Theatre Company/Malthouse Theatre), Elizabeth Proctor in The Crucible, Lady Macbeth in Macbeth (New York Theatre Festival), The Angel and the Red Priest (Adelaide Festival). For Opera Australia her credits include Kate in The Pirates of Penzance, and Pitti Sing in The Mikado.

She has also performed the role of Old Lady in Candide for State Opera of South Australia and originated the role of Gussie Bethell in Ode to Nonsense (Slingsby/State Opera of South Australia), a new opera about the life of Edward Lear. Her association with the Cabaret Festival has included roles in The Wild Party – The Music of Andrew Lippa, Suitcase – The Music of Sean Peter, An Evening with Jeremy Sams and her own show Mixtape.

Further professional credits include Guys and Dolls, The Sign of the Seahorse, SCAM!, Mr McGee and the Biting Flea and Dead Man Walking. Johanna will be seen as Sister Sophia in the Australian tour of The Sound of Music later this year.

The Songs That Got Away – the music of Harold Arlen will be presented at the Melbourne Recital Centre as part of the American Songbook Festival on Friday 12 and Saturday 13 June 2015. For more information, visit: www.melbournerecital.com.au for details.

Image: Johanna Allen