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Tags:   Babes,   Celebrities,   Comedy,   Creative women,   Theatre

By The Swag Team   -  January 15, 2015

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JO CARUANA was born in the UK to a British mother and Maltese father and has lived most of her life on the island, though she also spent five years studying in Scotland. She has established herself as a popular, versatile actress thanks to regular stage appearences, which she juggles with a hectic career that involves a lot of writing. You can see her on stage this Saturday at the Salesians Theatre in Sliema, bringing the house down alongside five other comedy clowns in the encore performances of the 12 Months of Funny sketch show.



Tell us a bit about your education and career so far.


I have two parallel lives that have run side-by-side for as long as I can remember – my career, and my adoration for all-things theatre, which is a kind of co-career I suppose. Theatre-wise I was in my first production when I was 12 and it was love at first rehearsal… I then started taking my drama training more seriously and, when I was 15, joined the annual MADC panto. I’ve never looked back since and have been lucky enough to be on the local stage pretty regularly, minus a five-year break when I was living and studying in the UK.

As for my career, I started life as a journalist when I was 17 and that was another instant hit. I read for a degree in Arts Journalism in Edinburgh and then worked for the BBC for a while. Once back in Malta I was part of the team that founded ‘Style on Sunday’ magazine (of which I am still editor), while also opening and building Writemeanything.com – a company that specialises in content creation and PR.


I recently opened a second business, Finesse Consulta – a corporate etiquette and protocol consultancy – following on from my graduation from the European School for Etiquette and Protocol last year.    



What do you think you are best known for with the general public?


Well, theatre in Malta exposes you to a particular audience and it’s always nice to see friendly faces when I’m standing on stage. I guess productions I’ve been in, such as ‘Legally Blonde’, ‘Allo Allo’, a whole variety of pantos and the Comedy Knights, have helped to make me known to theatre-lovers in Malta, which is lovely. I am a big fan of the Maltese cultural scene and am amazed at how it has blossomed in recent years.



Are there any theatre or media stars that have inspired you over the years?


British actress Sheridan Smith will always be my acting idol – largely because she is so incredibly versatile and insanely talented. It helps that she played my dream role – Elle Woods, in the Broadway and West End musical version of the hit film ‘Legally Blonde’. I was lucky enough to take on that role myself when ‘Legally Blonde’ was produced in Malta at the Manoel Theatre in 2012.


Media-wise, I have always looked up to ex-magazine editor Sam Baker. I grew up reading the magazines she was at the helm of – first ‘Cosmopolitan’ and then ‘Red’, and I really admired her strength in the industry. She is now a fiction author, which, of course, is something most writers aspire to be at some point.   



What are your current and next theatre commitments?


This weekend I am thrilled to be back on stage for ‘The Comedy Knights’ 12 Months of Funny’. Our 2014/15 show was our second Comedy Knights performance and I’d like to think we have improved the product and reached out to more people than we did in 2013. The really good news is that our first run (over Christmas and New Year) sold out, so we’re back for two encore performances this Saturday. Knowing people enjoyed the show is the best feeling on earth – we’re all very grateful for the opportunity to perform again and we’re looking forward to two jam-packed houses.


As for other projects, well I’m already back in the rehearsal room for my next one – All New People. It’s a fab play, written by Zach Braff of ‘Scrubs’ fame, and it will be performed at the Blue Box Theatre (M Space) in Msida, produced by Masquerade and under the direction of Tony Bezzina.


I play the part of kooky Emma, and she’s got a completely different character to mine so it’s a wonderful challenge (I’ve even had to shed my trademark high-heeled boots for rehearsal – so that I can be a little more ‘down to earth and chilled’, which is… interesting!). The best aspect of it all would have to be sharing a stage with three of my really good friends, Thomas Camilleri, Malcolm Galea and Maxine Aquilina; they are absolutely brilliant.


After that comes Masquerade’s long-awaited performance of Noises Off, which is a show I have been desperate to be in since I first saw Masquerade’s rendition of it 10 years ago (also at the Manoel). I have since watched it on the West End and I genuinely believe it’s one of the funniest plays ever written. I’d like to think audiences are in for a treat with that one.



Do you have a funny, perhaps embarrassing story from your time on stage you would like to share with SWAG?


The Comedy Knights has been one long funny episode. The whole cast and crew get on brilliantly, and that just transforms the process into a really enjoyable one. I have to admit that there were a number of days when we turned up to rehearsal, ‘worked’ for an hour, then headed off for a four-hour lunch and went home! But I’d like to think that’s what makes it gel – we’re genuinely really good friends and we like making each other laugh, and thus making the audience laugh.


The thing is, we DO make each other laugh – even on stage – and therein lies the ‘problem’. It is AMAZING sharing a stage with my best bud Pia Zammit, for instance, but we really struggle to get through a particular scene of the show without corpsing (laughing on stage - Ed). There were a number of times during the recent Comedy Knights’ run when I had tears rolling down my face as I tried to hold back a laugh while working through dialogue with Pia – and failing. Thankfully the audience seemed to find it as funny as we did!  


What is your ambition?


I absolutely love the way everything is going right now, both theatre-wise and at work, so I would like to keep building on all of that and collecting more experiences for my memory bank. My main aim right now is to get my new house built and finished, so that is definitely my challenge for 2015. Reader tips in that respect would be very welcome!



Who is your ideal man, and what must he do to woo you?


A cultured conversationalist would be nice. Very little gets me interested faster than some good conversation and the ability to challenge me in a debate. Sexy huh?  Oh, and he’d absolutely have to be an animal lover or it’d be a non-starter.



And finally, tell us about your ideal date night?


A weekend of culture and food (lots of food) somewhere fabulous. London and Edinburgh are my go-tos, but Amsterdam is on my to-try list. Locally, it’d be a lovely long walk with a picnic, and the added company of my three dogs – if you can handle my dogs, then you’re definitely one mammoth step closer to making my day.


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