Local artist profile: Conor Cunningham
THIS week we chat with triple-threat actor, singer and dancer Conor Cunningham.
What initially motivated you to become a performer?
As a young teenager growing up in Ireland, a family friend established a youth theatre group, the first of its kind in our little town, and encouraged me to join.
Initially I was a bit disinterested but, through my involvement with this group, I discovered my love for the performing arts and tried to be involved in as many productions as possible – my first being Joseph & his Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat.
This love for the performing arts has remained with me ever since and I have taken it with me wherever I have travelled.
What would you say are your best performance attributes?
I enjoy portraying character actor roles, because they are unusual and interesting roles and I love the challenge of developing them into something that is unique to me.
I particularly love character roles in comedy, because there is no better feeling than the sound of a live audience laughing – that’s when I know I’ve got it right.
What else do you do to make ends meet?
I am fortunate enough to be involved in performing purely as a hobby, and don’t have to rely on it as a way of making a living.
By profession, I am a designer, and work for Arts Centre Melbourne, which allows me to blend my love of architecture and the performing arts into a job that I love.
How did you become involved with the Bendigo Theatre Company?
Since leaving home, wherever I found myself in the world, I would always seek out the local theatre company.
This was always a sure way of helping me to find like-minded people and no different when I moved to Bendigo ten years ago.
The first thing I did was to seek out local theatre groups and happened upon Bendigo Theatre Company.
Although my background was purely in acting, and BTC is predominantly a musical theatre company, I felt at home there.
This involvement encouraged me to start learning to sing and to dance and, suddenly, I found myself getting involved in musical theatre again, something I hadn’t done since performing in Joseph all those years ago.
Which performers inspire you?
My interest in character actors has always drawn my interest towards studying those roles.
My favourite performers in this genre include Ian McKellen, Anthony Hopkins, Judy Dench, Maggie Smith and Michael Gambon.
I am instantly drawn into their portrayal of character roles and am just blown away by the intensity with which they portray their characters.
My most inspiring comedy actors include Robin Williams and Steve Martin, for exactly the same reasons.
What are some highlights you have from your career so far?
Pretty much every show I have been involved in over the last 40 years has been a wonderful experience.
There is no better feeling than putting in the hard work, and then coming together to put on a performance for the enjoyment of our audiences.
There are too many highlights to mention, however, I was recently nominated by the Music Theatre Guild of Victoria for an award in the category of Male in a Supporting Role for my portrayal of Buddy in We Will Rock You. This was such an enjoyable role and I am very humbled by the nomination.