I had the chance to speak with the wonderful Thom Allison, who I absolutely adore as Pree in the series Killjoys, about the show as well as his upcoming Christmas Cabaret, “Shut Up, It’s Christmas.” He gives some wonderful insight into the character I love and shares a great deal about all of his upcoming and current projects.
What is it like playing Pree in Killjoys?
“Oh my gosh, that’s quite a big question. It’s as much fun as it looks like it is. He is so fantastic and fun. As they keep writing him I find out things literally as you guys find out. I find out in the next script and just go ‘Oh you’re a warlord,’ ‘Oh you’re this,’ ‘Oh here stab someone’s hand,’ ‘Are you serious that is freaking awesome!’ It’s been this kind of crazy ride for me too because I didn’t know all of that when we started so I was just kind of playing with who he would be, but he’s got this kind of leeway as far as who he is and he’s a bit of a chameleon. He wears these costumes and I think even he would call them costumes because he dresses for a part in my mind. One’s a superhero, one’s a gladiator, these outfits go with names because he’s so dramatic. I love dressing up in weird stuff, that’s always fun. I’ve had a bit of a hand in the makeup too. I’ll say something like, ‘I was thinking this or that,’ and they’ll take it and they’ll embellish, they do something else, or expand it. We have such a good time. I love the wardrobe department. And Michelle (Lovretta)’s got great ideas. My first fitting for Pree was five hours long, it’s where we created the look. My fittings are normally no less than an hour and a half or two hours for one outfit. Then we do like three outfits and they make them on you, like we’ll do a shirt, we’ll do this, some pieces under that. They really create these pieces on me so we play with colors and ideas. They were joking that they’ll need a whole room for all of Pree’s jewelry. It’s like what are we going to use today. Here’s a new necklace we have for you, let’s add this part and add grommets to this vest. You know because it’s kind of a wild style with the costumes and the makeup. It’s so much fun because I get to sort of be in on it and say what about this or that. I can have a hand in feeling how he’s going to be and how he lives typically. It’s just fun, fun, fun.”
How do you feel that you relate to Pree?
“Bits and pieces of me, especially with a show that has a couple seasons, you naturally bring in bits of yourself that can make it a guide, a way to step into it quickly and go. We both have a certain boisterousness for sure. I use some of my own natural, if I dare say, charm or whatever it might be, because it’s there. We share a charisma and that’s a part of who he is. He’s more sedate than I am. I talk pretty fast, I move pretty fast, but I slow my energy way down for Pree. A little more stabby than I am, *chuckles* you know there’s that. I think we share a sense of humor, I think it informs how I react and then he’s a little campier than I would be, which is pretty fun. He can get away with being a little bit more, I don’t exactly want to say flamboyant, but I think of him as being really full of everything, both male and female energy. He just lets them bounce. I love Michelle’s world, she said in her world that she doesn’t create gay or straight, you just do your thing. Her world has gone past that and so I get to play with his energy and it can live and bounce in different ways. I can let him be a little bit more liquid. We’ve sort of seen him be more aggressive in the second season, but he’s softer, slower a bit more than I am.”
What are some of your favorite moments from the set?
“I don’t really have a specific one, but we sing and we laugh. The cast gets along, actually gets along, not just tv pretend gets along. There’s no diva, we just sit around and we talk between shoots and working scenes. We sit and talk about what’s going on in our lives, act stupid and silly. I love that. And the crew, everyone is so great. We’ve had people who have returned for the second season and now hopefully for the third once we start filming. It’s cool and laidback and easy. The vibe on the set is my favorite part. It’s fun to go to work and Michelle is wonderful and the directors have been amazing. It’s lucky that way certainly. And then we get to do fun stuff like shoot guns or stab hands. That moment I just laughed out loud when I read it and I couldn’t wait for people to see it. I’ve never gotten to do this stuff before so I’m so enjoying shooting people, stabbing people, and slapping people, it’s a good time. ”
What are some of your favorite fan reactions or fan connections?
“I haven’t done sci-fi before, I’ve been sort of blown away. The loyalty of the fans and so attentive to every detail. It just sort of blows my mind. They’ll know the detail of what you were wearing when you did this scene with someone or the look you gave. They get the nuance of the performance that is a bit awe inspiring, a bit humbling because they see everything. Nothing that we do is wasted, which I’m just amazed by. Somewhere someone will go I love that moment when this happened and you’ll just be like you saw that, you noticed that. It’s the best thing in the world for an actor. When someone gets the nuance of your performance it’s really invigorating and inspiring and you just want to say thank you so much. Every little thing matters and they appreciate everything. I’ve been having a really great time being online and responding to people. They get so excited, like Pree responded to me, and it’s like you said something to me so hi, and thank you. It’s so easy, but reaching out and touching someone directly is cool and it doesn’t always happen as the norm.”
What are you hoping to see or secretly wishing could happen in season three?
“I’d love to know more about Pree’s warlord days. I would love for him to be a spy or something like that. He has all these outfits and aliases. In my mind the one that makes me laugh is Paris O’Malley. I feel like that character is a woman and I feel like he lived a life as a lady for espionage. I think exploring that would be great fun. Someone mentioned somewhere online that they’d love to see Pree attached to someone. We were joking one day while thinking about who Pree would be with and the man whose hand he stabbed in the bar was mentioned. They would be in like an S&M relationship, which would be weird, and fantastic, and fun, and kooky. Pree would like abuse him and he would come back for more. That would be a funny bit. The show is so inventive and the writing is so fantastic. Great writing, fun lines, I’m like bring it on. I’d love to see Pree more involved, not on the ship every day, but more involved. Now that Old Town has been shut down, he could keep the bar, but just sort of walk around a little bit. Travel a little bit and help out here and there. Just keep popping up in different places undercover. I think that would be fun, especially with all of his costumes. What if he has been? What if he’s just been in costume the entire time, just always there and dressed like something else. People just questioning, ‘Is that Pree?’ How fun would that be? Who knows? I’m game for whatever it is.”
Outside of Killjoys, you’re doing your two act Cabaret “Shut Up, It’s Christmas,” can you tell me a little bit more about that?
“Back in 2006 it started as a small part of a much larger show. People saw it and were saying, ‘This is so good, you should do it again,’ and I thought this is interesting. I adapted it into something I did every couple of years. In the first act I play Mrs. Claus and I tell the story of how she and Santa met, their courtship, how she used to be a showgirl, and her colorful past. Originally I wanted to challenge myself and I didn’t do any Christmas songs. She was the Christmas theme. I would do musical theater and easy listening songs, but use them to tell the story really well. It’s inspired by a Charlie Brown Christmas, oddly enough, which is one of my favorite things to watch around Christmas time. I thought why don’t I do something a bit funny, sweet, even a little bit melancholy, that was the idea. Their life together and their relationship is a bit complicated. They’ve had their ups and downs, in the end they’ll be fine, but it’s a complicated life. It was such a big hit, which surprised me, that I expanded it. The second act I take off all of the costume, I dress up as myself, and I sing Christmas songs and tell stories.”
You just directed your first production, “Seussical,” what was that like?
“It was great, I actually loved it. I had thought about directing when I was younger, but my career took off as an actor and that’s what I was doing. This offer came along and I had such a great time. It was an amazing cast. I learned that if you surround yourself with great people that even if you’re mediocre, they’ll pull it off for you. *chuckles* It was great, everyone was genius. I loved planning everything, I loved having my hands on everything. It’s so suited to who I am and my anal retentiveness that making sure all the details were there and it wasn’t sloppy, that I could be in charge of everything going on, I loved it. The cast was so great. We’re doing really well, I think we’re selling out and it’s doing great. The reviews are good, which is nice.”
I read that you were performing for Voices of Hope and The Loft’s Annual Christmas Concert, could you tell me a little bit more about those?
“Voices of Hope is on December 1st, but I unfortunately had to cancel my appearance. It’s a wonderful event. It happens every year and is a World Aids Day Benefit for Casey House, which is a well known care facility/hospice in Toronto, it’s been here for many years and has been a real beacon of hope. It was thrilling that they asked me to be a part of it and unfortunately I can’t attend, which breaks my heart. On December 5th is the concert for Loft Services. They give aid to older people who don’t have money or people to care for them, to the homeless, homeless youth, those who need a hand or aid. They have housing and rehabilitation opportunities. It really is a wonderful organization. They’ve had this concert for the past seven or eight years, it’s a beautiful night.”
Do you have any dream role that you would want to play in theater or film?
“What I would love to do, there are two things. They are diverse and kooky. A few years ago, I was a judge on a reality show. It was this show to choose the next Dorothy for the Wizard of Oz that toured in the States and Canada. It was fantastic, I loved it so much. I want to be me on tv. I want to be a judge or a host. They had people choose me as one of their favorite judges, not to toot my own horn, but that’s what they told me. I would love to do more of that. Another role I’ve been sort of thinking of right now and I’m just putting it out in the universe, Mame in the musical Mame. It’s actually a woman and it was a great role for Angela Lansbury. I think at this time it would be a great role for a man to play, as a female. They would be a female form, but a man living life as a woman. The story is about a rich, sort of wacky woman who is the aunt to this young boy, who has been left in her care in the 1920’s. She raises him in this sort of lifestyle where she’s so unusual and sort of an outcast, but because she’s so rich it doesn’t really matter. There’s this sort of love affair between this aunt and her nephew as he grows up. It’s an amazing musical and it’s sort of this story about looking for who they are, how to express who they are, and it’s kind of a timely moment for it. Not like a campy drag show, but actually play them as human beings, as Mame. It’s a great score, great role, I could be it. I want to play her and have them think, ‘Is that a guy?’ and then after that you forget. You’re just watching this woman’s life. It’s like this weird little sideways thing on my bucket list.”
When I was preparing for this interview I saw that you were in Repo! The Genetic Opera, I love that movie. What was being in that like?
“I was in a small scene, but all the extras and the party theme, it was so crazy. There were like a hundred extras and a crazy outdoor set, but inside. It was wild, it was really fun. I did this sort of cool makeup for my audition and when they got me ready on set the director said, ‘No, more like the makeup that he did.’ So they stopped everything and they had to go and change my lipstick. It was wild.”
I read that you enjoy baking in your free time, what is your go to recipe?
“Cookies are always easy and I have this amazing cookie bible. It’s this little taped together book, it’s falling apart. It has the five main cookies: sugar, peanut butter chocolate, oatmeal, and chocolate chip. Then from there it has these 85 variations for each one. I have made so much out of that book that it is taped together 80 times, has bits of dough on it. It’s just the best thing ever. For me I love making interesting and wild things. I love making cakes, cupcakes. When I was doing Priscilla (Queen of the Desert) on Broadway, there’s this cupcake scene in the show. I started making cupcakes, not on purpose, but I started making them and bringing them in. People would say I bet you can’t make such and such cupcake and I’d say hm, I bet I could. I’d go home and I’d create. I’d look stuff up and change it and alter it. They’d just go wild for these cupcakes. They’d ask what made you think of this and I’d just say I don’t know, I just started making it. I had so much fun. People would ask what do you have today and they’d rate them. It was this great bringing the company together sort of thing. We had a ball, everyone just eating cupcakes before the show.”
I would like to thank Thom Allison again for letting me speak to him. I had a fabulous time chatting and learning all about his wonderful work. I hope I was able to do his exuberance justice in my transcription.
*Images from Syfy and Promotions for Shut Up, It’s Christmas*