This cosplaying Dallas actor doesn't shy away from outrageous characters
Dressing up and becoming other people is a way of life for Andi Allen — and we don't just mean onstage. The Dallas-based actor, director, and playwright has established herself on the cosplay scene, appearing as everyone from Wonder Woman to Doctor Who to one of the blade-wielding Bennett sisters from the film Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.
Right now, however, Allen is preparing to wrangle another kind of horde: small children. She's playing ballet instructor Mrs. Wilkinson in Billy Elliot, the stage musical based on the popular movie. Firehouse Theatre in Farmers Branch is presenting the regional premiere from July 28 to August 14.
Before she dons the legwarmers, Allen took the time to fill out our survey of serious, fun, and sometimes ridiculous questions.
Name: Andi Allen
Role in Billy Elliot: Mrs. Wilkinson, the dance teacher
Previous work in the DFW area: Actor/director for many theaters around town, most recently seen as Yente in Fiddler on the Roof at Garland Summer Musicals, Joanne in Company for Brick Road Theatre, and Jessica Cranshaw in Curtains for MainStage Irving/Las Colinas.
Where you currently reside: Dallas
First theater role: I did roles in elementary school for school presentations, but in ninth grade I ventured out to audition for Junior Players and was cast in a production of Snow White (can’t remember the character).
First stage show you ever saw: I don’t remember specifically, but we had season tickets to the Dallas Summer Musicals when I was in a kid. What actually made me fall in love with theater, and musicals in particular, were the movie musicals I watched as a kid: The Sound of Music, Mary Poppins, Bye Bye Birdie, and so many others.
Moment you decided to pursue a career in theater: Not really a moment, but by high school, I knew I wanted to have a career in theater.
Most challenging role you’ve played: Different roles have presented different challenges. Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd (because of all those tongue-twisting words) and Veronica in God of Carnage (because it’s an emotional roller coaster for 90 straight minutes onstage that feel like running a marathon with the three other actors).
Special skills: I still remember a smattering of sign language from my days working with Callier Theater of the Deaf.
Something you’re REALLY bad at: Ironing. I always burn myself when I iron.
Current pop culture obsession: Anything Doctor Who and cosplay-related. I’m becoming a familiar face in the local cosplay community.
Last book you read:The Disaster Artist, a first-hand account of the making of the "worst movie ever" called The Room.
Favorite movie(s):Deadpool, Captain America: Civil War, Batman vs. Superman
Favorite musician(s): A.R Rahman, a Bollywood composer
Favorite song: "The Ladies Who Lunch." I loved it for a long time before I actually got to do it.
Dream role: I’ve been lucky to play some of my dream roles. I would love to do Dolly in Hello Dolly! and the title role in Mame.
Favorite play(s): Psycho Beach Party. I love Charles Busch.
Favorite musical(s): Xanadu, Nunsense, Mame
Favorite actors/actresses: Katherine Hepburn, Alex Kingston, David Tennant, Patrick Stewart
Favorite food: Mexican
Must-see TV show(s):Doctor Who, The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones
Something most people don’t know about you: I’m a DC girl all the way, though I like Marvel.
Place in the world you’d most like to visit: The U.K.
Pre-show warm-up: I usually do a speed through of all my lines and songs on my way to the theater.
Favorite part about your current role: Performing the song "Shine" with my ballet girls and Billy.
Most challenging part about your current project: Being consistent with the Geordie accent.
Most embarrassing onstage mishap: Didn’t know the back of my dress was caught up in my pantyhose. Got the biggest laugh when I turned to exit the scene and found out backstage why. The show was Reefer Madness, so I’m sure the audience just thought my character was stoned.
Career you’d have if you weren’t in theater: Something working with animals.
Favorite post-show spot: Buzzbrews
Most memorable theater moment: Hearing audible gasps from the audience when I hit the high operatic note in "Gooch’s Song" in Mame after singing in the nasal character voice. They never expected that sound to come out of Gooch.