Jazz Gallagher has fallen in love with the theatre, and at the theatre. Ahead of her appearance in The Full Monty we sat down with her to find out about those theatrical love affairs, why Alan Rickman floats her boat, and how she’s rising above anorexia.

Hey Jazz! You’re playing Michelle in The Full Monty. Why did you audition for the show?
I love being on stage and I go to every audition I can. But specifically for this show I wanted my fiance Jimmy to be on stage again as it’s where he really flourishes and it makes him so happy. I’m stoked that I get to share in that happiness and be on stage with him again.

What are three things people should know about you?
* I am the current 2nd Runner Up to the Miss Taranaki crown and I was the 2020 Miss Personality.
* I love to bake, and whilst my Jimmy swears it’s all good, I do have my doubts sometimes.
* One of my closest friends took my fiance’s pants off before I did as she was his dresser at Priscilla. This also happens to be the reason we met.

What’s your favorite thing about being involved with The Full Monty so far?
Not going to lie, watching Jimmy’s dance rehearsals! I never knew how natural dancing seems to be for him and unfortunately for him it means our first dance for the wedding will be choreographed to the nines. (However it will not include any of the stripper moves he may have learned)

If you were going to strip on stage, what would your signature song be, and why? 
Killer Queen by Queen, it’s just an anthem and constantly on repeat in my playlist. It just has a vibe about it which I resonate with.

All time favourite movie, song, artwork, book or play?
Movie: Labyrinth
Song: Man In The Mirror by Michael Jackson
Book: Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neil
Play: Heathers by Kevin Murphy and Laurence O’Keefe.

What’s something you’re really proud of?
A while back I was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa. I had spent my entire life being told that I would look better if I lost some weight. Once I did, everyone kept telling me how good I looked, how much better I looked, and that stuck with me. I was so determined to remain this fraction of myself that people were praising that I couldn’t see how sick I had gotten, even when my hair was falling out in fistfuls and I couldn’t sleep because my spine was so close to the surface. 

So, what I’m most proud of is how I eventually managed to start trying to get my life back. Since the start of this year I have been in recovery, and at times it has meant crying on the bathroom floor at 1am because I’m so scared of gaining weight, but more importantly I’ve been able to actually be present in my life again. I am so proud of myself that I’ve given myself a future again and not followed down the path of a death sentence. 

If you could have dinner with any three people from history, who would you pick and why?
Controversial, but Michael Jackson because I love his music and would love to pick his brain, due to the fact he is all I listened to from the ages of 7-14. 

Alan Rickman because Hans Gruber was iconic and elevated the standard for movie villains to a whole new level.

And the third is tied for David Bowie and Freddie Mercury because I aspire to their level of “I don’t care what you’re talking about as long as you’re talking about me.” To be fair though, there is a chance I’m marrying Mercury’s reincarnation, as Jimmy was born almost exactly when he died. Just a fun little fact.

Why is theatre special for you?
I love being involved in theatre. I always thought my calling was being on the stage, but after being a dresser at Operatic Society’s production of Priscilla, I found I just love being in that environment. Being able to step into a place where nothing that’s happening outside matters and you focus on putting your whole self into a production. It’s my world. 

Plus, I also met Jimmy through theatre, and he has been the only thing keeping me sane when I’m not involved in a show.

How does it feel to sell out a show so quickly?
Absolutely incredible. But also not surprising – it’s humourous and heartfelt and everything you could want from a production, plus it means I get to show off my fiancee to so many people. That being said, it has been great for Jimmy’s self esteem but hopefully it’s not going to give him an ego, or else he’s sleeping on the couch.

What are you most looking forward to, or most nervous about for The Full Monty?
Easy, my entire family being there opening night, to see Jimmy in ALL his glory! I imagine he will be avoiding eye contact with them all for a while.

Photos by Monique Matthews Photography, with interview by Taryn Raynes

THE DETAILS: The Full Monty is on at New Plymouth Little Theatre from July 14. An extended season goes on sale at noon on Wednesday June 2 at iTicket.