Acting damaged

[attach]6758[/attach]Mother, wife and actor Michelle Monteith wears many hats in her life.

“I’ve been lucky that I’ve gotten to play lots of different characters, a few ingénue and lots of interesting, twisted people too,” says the Beach actor.

She says she started out like most actors do, by getting involved in all the plays at school and taking as many classes outside of school as she could.

Monteith’s first role was starring as Anne Frank in a play called Children of the Holocaust, put on by her high school for Remembrance Day.

“I was the exact age she was when she died when I first played her,” she says.

Almost 10 years later, she played the character again in Neptune Theatre’s The Diary of Anne Frank. She says she approached the role differently after going through her own life experiences and applying them while she read Frank’s diary as a part of her character study.

Monteith has been involved in dozens of projects, from voicing the evil fairy Saphira in the children’s cartoon Pearlie to playing a lovesick flower shop girl in the award-winning production of Hannah Moscovitch’s The Russian Play at the Factory Theatre.

She’s currently in rehearsals to reprise her role as the damaged, adopted sibling Claire in Moscovitch’s one-act thriller Little One opening at the Tarragon Theatre on Feb. 14.

Monteith was first offered the role by Moscovitch and director Natasha Mytnowych for the 2011 production at SummerWorks, a theatre festival that celebrates Toronto talent.

“I had such an amazing time working on The Russian Play that I was excited to work on another one,” she says.

For preparation, Monteith has been spending a lot of time playing librarian, studying materials that helped her prepare become Claire the first time.

“I’ve spent a lot of time going over initial resources and notes,” she says. “It’s mostly being back in the rehearsal hall and rediscovering the play again. I’m following my instincts.”

In Little One, Monteith’s character can’t be trusted around animals, but in real life, she loves taking her dog to the park in her new nook the of city.

Monteith and her husband, fellow actor Stuart Hughes, moved to the Beach last summer. After viewing nearly 60 houses in the east end, she says they found theirs by luck.

The couple wanted to live close to the Distillery District where Soulpepper, the theatre company her husband co-founded, is located. The pair has also been involved in some of Soulpepper’s productions.

“Although you live in the city … I love the neighbourhood feel of it,” she says of the Beach.