UArts Pre-College: Alumna Clare O'Malley

BFA, '10; Summer Institute, ‘05

Theater - Musical Theater (BFA)

Pre-College Summer Institute, ‘05

Theater, Musical Theater track

BFA ’10, Musical Theater, Valedictorian

Stage and film actor
, Actors Equity (AEA), Represented by Ivy Rock Management

Hometown: Dublin, Ireland
Along the way: Philadelphia
Current living in: New York City

When I arrived at UArts, I knew immediately…this was where I wanted to be.

Clare O’Malley has traveled the world, from Broad Street to Baku, Azerbaijan, to perform everything from Shakespeare to pop tunes. Her journey to the stage began in Dublin, Ireland, whereas the child of a theatrical family—her father’s parents founded the Lyric Theater in Belfast—she performed in youth productions and dreamed of studying musical theater in the United States. Her grandfather on her mother’s side, the distinguished Irish poet Thomas Kinsella, who was living (and still lives) in Philadelphia, suggested she attend Summer Institute. With the support of a scholarship, Clare came to Philadelphia, fell in love with the city and UArts, and embarked on an exceptional—and surprising—career.

After an “extraordinary” Pre-College experience, inspired by the University’s focus on, and appreciation for, each student’s individuality, and motivated by the opportunity to work with “amazing” faculty and alumni, Clare returned to Philadelphia to pursue her BFA. Valedictorian of her class, she graduated with a “versatile toolbox of skills” that prepared her to take on roles as different from each other as Luisa in The Fantasticks (Dublin Lyric Players), Eurydice in the daring and inventive Doug Hara production of Metamorphoses (Arden Theater Company), and Nina in the popular comedy Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike (Philadelphia Theater Company.) She has appeared in over 20 professional productions on stages in Philadelphia; Dublin, Ireland; Edinburgh, Scotland; Cape May, New Jersey; New York, Wilmington, Delaware, and Off-Broadway where, alongside theater greats Kate Burton and Boyd Gaines, she played the role of Lily in The Dead, 1904, a play Clare also was in at the Abbey Theater in Dublin (directed by the legendary Joe Dowling).

Clare works often with former teachers and UArts alumni, including composer and director Charles Gilbert, her first teacher at Summer Institute and founder of the University’s Musical Theater program. She played the title role in his original musical The May Desmond Story (a joint workshop production with Drexel University) and starred, alongside UArts’ alums Maggie Johnson BFA ’15 (Musical Theater) and Aaron Bell BFA ’15 (Musical Theater), in the musical revue Rodger’s Romance, (East Lynne Theater) music directed by Gilbert. Clare and her husband Sean M. Bradley (BFA ’09, Acting) played the leads in Brian Friel’s play Winners, directed by UArts professor and current director of the Summer Institute’s theater program, Amy Dugas Brown (Round Table Theater); shared the stage in Othello, directed by UArts professor Rosey Hay (Goodwill Theater Company); and starred together in Hansel and Gretel (Quintessence Theatre).

I learned at UArts to say “yes” to every challenge and not to be judgmental because you never know what may come of an opportunity.

After graduating from UArts, Clare returned to Ireland where she took on challenging roles that helped her become a “smarter, more confident in the craft” of acting and performing, as well as a number of unexpected opportunities, including work as a puppeteer and subsequently as a “princess” in a traditional Christmas “Panto” (holiday festival show) created by pop duo (and twin brothers) Jedward. She performed with Jedward as a backup singer (“in a 28 thousand seater arena, a mind-blowing experience”) at the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest, ascending to the Grand Finals in front of a live television audience of four million viewers. “You can do anything” is an attitude she learned at UArts she says.

What a wild first on-camera experience! Sitting and having tea in the same room as Sylvester Stallone and Michael B. Jordan on set before a shoot.

Back in Philadelphia, Clare expanded her repertoire once again with a small role in the highly successful feature film Creed (2015), the latest installment in the Rocky Balboa story. She hopes to do more film and television work and has set a major new goal for herself: to originate the lead role in a new musical on or off Broadway. Clare and Sean are currently living in New York City and performing wherever opportunities to evolve their craft take them. “Money comes and goes,” Clare says, “Art is enduring.”

Explore Musical Theater (BFA) at UArts.