As a consummate crossover artist, Onalea's original work is a unique blend of music and the theatrical. As a performer she has worked in both the traditional and the avant-garde playing roles on the stage, screen, and in cartoons. An accomplished vocalist, she has sung with everything from solo piano to chamber ensembles, symphony orchestras, and big bands. She has recorded four CD's ranging from big band to jazz standards, electronica to original material.
As a theatre artist she has performed numerous roles across Canada, including 7 seasons as an ensemble member with the award-winning Canadian physical performance theatre company One Yellow Rabbit, creating many original characters and starring as Sylvia Plath in Sylvia Plath Must Not Die.
Select Roles include: Into the Woods (Cinderella); The Mystery of Edwin Drood (Drood); Assassins (Squeaky Fromme); Falsettos (Cordelia); and Bernstein's MASS with the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra - Hans Graf conducting (Mezzo Soprano/Blues singer).
With Dandi Productions, she co-created and performed shows as an actor, singer and puppeteer, with symphony orchestras internationally including the Hallé Symphony - the oldest orchestra in the UK. Most recently Dandi toured to Australia to perform with both the Adelaide & West Australian symphony orchestras (fall 2013).
Onalea's original pieces REQUIEM FOR A LOST GIRL: A Chamber Musical About Homelessness and BLANCHE: The Bittersweet Life Of A Wild Prairie Dame premiered in New York City as a special events of the New York Musical Theatre Festival in 2011 and 2012. BLANCHE was named a top 20 show in New York in 2011 by the Huffington Post.
Recent projects include: Starring in David Rhymer's Mata Hari in 8 Bullets at the New York Musical Theatre Festival in the summer of 2013 (outstanding individual performance award), which also travelled to the Edinburgh Fringe in 2014; directing What Brought Us Here - a new Opera about Immigration which premiered September 2012 with Calgary Opera and creating the role of Petty in HOME an indie film by Sandi Somers (Ampia Award nomination best actress). Current work in progress is TORCH SONGS FROM THE GYPSY VAN a love story with Jazz and String quartet.
"Another terrific turn by Onalea Gilbertson"
Mata Hari in 8 Bullets makes the Huffington post best of theater list for 2013 as one of the best shows of NYMF- #9
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Onalea honoured with the 2013 GREG BOND MEMORIAL AWARD for outstanding contribution to Musical Theatre in Calgary.
READ MORE on Calgary Herald
Onalea wins NYMF 2013 Award for Excellence in the category of Outstanding Individual Performance.
READ MORE on Playbill.com
Onalea was nominated for an AMPIA Best Actress for her performance in Sandi Somers' indie film "HOME"
Read More on AMPIA.org
Onalea was the recipient of the 2013 inaugural Sandstone City Builders award for her work in Social Justice and the Arts.
Read more on Calgary Herald
August 6 - 23, 2014
Mata Hari in 8 Bullets at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe