Written and directed by Jerome Sable, Stage Fright features an ensemble cast led by Allie MacDonald (as Camilla Swanson), a teen eager to follow in her mother’s (Minnie Driver) footsteps and become a Broadway star. Stuck working in the kitchen of a “Glee-like” performing arts camp, Camilla manages an audition for the summer musical showcase and lands the lead role. The dead bodies begin to pile up in rehearsals—and during Camilla’s climactic scene—as a masked killer exacts revenge for the murder of Camilla’s mother. Known for House at the End of the StreetandThe Barrens, MacDonald displays exceptional range and talent in Stage Fright. In this one-on-one interview, she reveals the challenges she faced in playing the lead role in this surprisingly unconventional musical.
What drew you to the role of Camilla?
Allie MacDonald: I did a lot of musicals. I liked the director and I thought the script was hilarious, so I auditioned for the role.
What was your audition like?
AM: I did a few scenes and performed a couple of songs. I met with the director and got the part.
Some have called Stage Fright, Glee with knives. How would you characterize this mixed genre film?
AM: Yeah, I would say that it’s like Glee meets Scream. I think it’s kind of hard to define this film because it is so different—and strange. There haven’t been a lot of movies that have combined so many different genres.
You have a nice singing voice. I understand you grew up around musicals. How did that help you in Stage Fright?
AM: Just being able to sing and being familiar with musical theater. I did a little bit of dance training when I was younger, so that helped with some of the choreography. My dancing would have been a lot worse if it weren’t for that choreography training.
How would you contrast your performance in Score: A Hockey Musical with Stage Fright?
AM: Score was different because it was my first movie and I had no idea what I was doing. And because Noah (Reid) was the lead in Score and I was a supporting actor, so I approached it in a different way. When I did Stage Fright, I had a better idea of what I wanted to do to prepare for the role. It was my first leading role, so there was a lot of pressure, but then I realized that as long as I showed up, prepared and read the lines, I’d be okay.
What drives Camilla to take the lead in the “The Haunting of the Opera,” the same play her mother would have starred in?
AM: I think it was Camilla’s fate. She’s lived this very sheltered life. I think she believes it’s her destiny to take over and become this musical star—like her mother. But she has no idea how, because she’s stuck working in this kitchen. So when they announced she got the lead in the play, it’s fate.
What was it like playing with a huge ensemble cast of singers?
AM: It was fun because all of the other cast members are so talented.Jerome (Sable) is really good at spotting new talent.He picked a bunch of kids—musical theater people—who didn’t have a lot of film experience but totally nailed it.John (Buchan) and Jason (Knight) did a great job in casting the film. I always felt like a bit of an outsider because my character is not part of the camp’s initial show ensemble. I liked it that way because it fit my character.
The film walks a fine line between musical, horror and comedy. How did you approach your character?
AM: It’s not hard because my character is who she is and the movie spans all these different genres. For Camilla, it’s the world she’s living in. It wasn’t hard to portray Camilla because I like all these genres. I prefer genre films to mainstream films. I’ve done indies, comedies, horror and musicals. That’s kind of where I’m getting my work and it’s what I enjoy doing. So it just comes naturally to me.
What’s your favorite genre?
AM: I really like comedies. And films from the Cohen Brothers. Have you ever seen Raising Arizona? I really love that movie. I also like shooting horror, which is strange because you have to do a lot of screaming and it’s kind of traumatic, but I like it. It’s kind of a release.
What did you think when you saw all the slasher parts in the script?
AM: I thought it was great. And when I saw it filmed, I thought they did a great job– like when a main character gets his foot cut in half.
What’s next for you?
AM: I’m doing some auditions in LA. But as far as upcoming films, I can’t really talk about that at this point. In my downtime, I write and record my own music. I play the guitar and sing.