Latest News

Starring In Musicals & Being In An ABBA Tribute Makes Karen One Busy Mum

Busy autumn for Belfast actress and performer

Karen with her children Matthew (7) and Molly (4)

ACTRESS, singer and dancer Karen Rush is what’s known in the business as a “triple threat”.

Karen as Agnetha in Bjorn Identity

Karen as Agnetha in Bjorn Identity

As someone who has an all-round talent she’s had a varied career in entertainment.

From serious stage productions and musical theatre to performing in an ABBA tribute act Karen has left no stone unturned in the business.

Now, in her third ABBA Tribute role as Agnetha with hugely popular The Björn Identity, Karen says she was always destined for the stage showing a natural talent in her youth and having members of her family in the business.

She explained: “I guess it has always been in my blood. There are singers and playwrites on my mothers side of the family, dancers on my dads side. I’ve been singing since the age of nine.

“When I hit secondary school I joined Fortwilliam Musical Society and had my first real theatre experience in a production of Annie at the old Harbeton Theatre.

Karen (centre) in the Little Flower Girls School production of Annie in 1992 playing Miss Hannigan with a young Rachel Tucker as Molly

Karen (centre) in the Little Flower Girls School production of Annie in 1992 playing Miss Hannigan with a young Rachel Tucker as Molly

“By 18 I joined the Ulster Theatre Company Musical Youth Training courses touring Ireland taking lead roles in Grease, Oklahoma and A Chorus Line. By then I was smitten by musicals. I then moved to London and graduated with a first class degree in Musical Theatre in 1998. My road to performing has felt like it has taken its natural course. The thing I love to do most is to sing.”

KarenRushDoubleday 11Throughout her career Karen has travelled the world, mostly in her role as Agnetha in a number of ABBA tribute acts but she says music will always come second to her love of the stage.

“My band work was always my bread and butter if you like between acting jobs. It always came second the stage, but the work suited me, the vocals of Abba are very musical theatre orientated and their songs are very emotive, they tell a story so I always felt in singing as Abba, I was performing a role.

“I have been lucky enough to have performed professionally in many mainstream theatres in the UK and Ireland as an actress featuring in musicals and pantomimes locally. My most fun job was playing Glinda in The Wizard of Oz and I got to meet Liam Neeson who was the voice of the Wizard.

“The most physically challenging to date was The Jungle Book, both shows were at The Lyric Theatre, Belfast.

“However, I have toured all over the world as a tribute singer from Barbados to playing to 5,000 people at The Kremlin Palace in Moscow to an unlikely tour of Pakistan.

“I am still an actress first and foremost. I try to run both alongside each other. I have an acting agent and regularly work in theatre. I am also a wedding soloist and vintage vocalist for corporate events.”

Karen starred as Glinda in The Wizard of Oz alongside Rachel Tucker as Dorothy in 2007

Karen starred as Glinda in The Wizard of Oz alongside Rachel Tucker as Dorothy in 2007

As Karen prepares for her forthcoming Bjorn Identity show at the Ardowen Theatre in Enniskillen on September 25 and for her role in Group! The Musical which will be showing in the MAC theatre in Belfast from September 15-17 she revealed getting her first part as Agnetha in London was unexpected but she’s never looked back.

Karen as Wicked Spectra in Sleeping Beauty at The Market Place Theatre 2012

Karen as Wicked Spectra in Sleeping Beauty at The Market Place Theatre 2012

“I lived in London for many years and between acting jobs I would sing in function and wedding bands. In 2001 joined a band called China Grove to replace a girl who had left to sing with ABBA Gold and when she left ABBA Gold, I got the call to replace her. It was random and unexpected but I lept at the chance” said Karen, adding: “I love the transition from me to Agnetha; she’s the blonde one married to Bjorn. I love my wig as I have dark naturally curly hair and no one recognises me. The costumes are so glamorous and the whole show is just the best buzz.

“Our current ABBA line up consists of my husband Richard who like myself is a full-time actor/musician, the bands musical director and plays my onstage husband Bjorn. Jonny McGuinness from Lurgan, plays Benny and is an outstanding musician and then Diana Nesbitt who is actually Russian but lives in Coleraine.”

Bjorn Identity was created by Karen after she left ABBA Gold and returned home to live and now, on top of her theatre and acting work Karen runs the show.

Karen as Agnetha in Bjorn Identity

Karen as Agnetha in Bjorn Identity

She said: “I manage the band myself, I deal with all aspects from the bookings, PR and I am also the bands designer /choreographer.

“When we perform our theatre shows I am the production manager who deals with the PR, staging, and technical management of the show.

“It is exhausting to be honest but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I am very fussy but I think that’s where we excel as a tribute band. Expectations are very high.

“I guess it wasn’t until I moved home to Belfast and created my own band that I realised how good it felt to be my own boss, produce my own show and bring music that I love to audiences. Seeing how much it lights up their lives bring me great joy.”

Of course as it is for many people in the entertainment industry it has it’s downsides.

“The travelling, and finding the balance between work life and homelife is difficult” said Karen.

“I used to gig every weekend in Holland with ABBA gold and we would have to travel from London, ferry to Calais then drive up to six hours to get to a festival. In 2011 I travelled to Brazil five times with ABBA Magic. I missed my two children very much, my youngest had only turned two at the time.

“I think we performers always have our doubts. It’s a very difficult industry, a sporadic career with no security, with many knock backs on the road to success.

“Confidence is easily shattered and you worry about money, but you have to keep positive. The jobs always come in the end.”

Similarly there have been many highlights in Karen’s career.

One of Karen’s first big jobs was the title role in Snow White and Seven Dwarfs at the Opera House starring with Britt Ekland and Robin Cousins - 2000

Karen as Snow White at the Opera House starring with Britt Ekland and Robin Cousins

She said: “There have been many highlights for many different reasons. As an Actor my first big job was playing Snow White at The Grand Opera House starring alongside Britt Ekland, Robin Cousins and of course our May Mc Fetridge. That was a very special time.

“As an ABBA tribute artist I would say performing in Rio, Brazil in an 8,000 seater Stadium. They actually thought we were ABBA. It was pandamonium.”

The Bjorn Identity begin a Northern Ireland tour for September and October at the Ardowen Theatre in Enniskillen on September 25. Tickets are available from www.ardhowentheatre.com.

Karen will be appearing in Group! The Musical at The MAC theatre in Belfast from September 15-17. Tickets are available from www.themaclive.com

Group Poster group shot

11011932_682423438559424_7671157743686693017_o

Advertisements

1 Comment on Starring In Musicals & Being In An ABBA Tribute Makes Karen One Busy Mum

  1. love u Karen xxxxxx

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: