At the time of the interview, David Page was playing the role of Rory in the new musical The Bodyguard at the Adelphi Theatre. On leaving the musical Chicago last year, David performed as Lewis in Pippin at the Menier Chocolate Factory, and then spent much of his time in preparation for the Olympic and Paralympic ceremonies. With The Bodyguard opening in early December 2012, the final few weeks of the year have also been very busy for him!
David recently took time out to answer a few questions about the past few months of his career.
You took part in the London 2012 Olympics closing ceremonies at The Olympic Stadium. Can you tell us about this?
I was really excited to take part in the London Olympics as I saw it as a once in a lifetime opportunity. It meant turning down a few offers here and there just to wait for the dates but it was well worth it. Rehearsals were, however, EXTREMELY painful! We rehearsed on a replica centre stage set, which was in Dagenham.
It would take 2 hrs 20 mins to get there from where I lived and would start at 10.00 am and finish at 8.00 pm or 9.00 pm 6 days a week. Because it was in an open space we would have to rehearse in torrential rain, burning sunshine or strong winds. It was the hardest rehearsal period I’ve ever experienced on a job. I also dislocated my shoulder for the first time, during the Dress Run. The payoff though was meeting David Beckham, performing with Rhianna, Jay-Z, Coldplay, Jessie J, Tinie Tempah, and meeting some incredible people. It was the most electrifying atmosphere ever. The dancers were some of the best I’ve worked with, and you can only learn from people like that.
It was also a real joy to work for Kim Gavin again, the guy is an absolute legend, he’ll push you hard but he always gives you the best gigs. I also took part in the closing of the Paralympic ceremonies which was far more emotional and an allround better gig. I have a new appreciation for people with physical disabilities, they appeared more like super-people to me, with these bionic limbs. The Paralympics were so inspiring, a real joy to watch and to have been a part of.
You are appearing in the new musical The Bodyguard. Can you describe the audition process?
Easier than most: in to read – in to sing – in to dance – and nothing more. Sometimes auditions can go on and on but with this production I believe the creative team had a really clear idea of what they were looking for. Luckily I fell into that category.
Where were you when you got the call to say you had got the part?
South Kensington, I’d just choreographed a first wedding dance for two friends. When I’d finished and was heading to the station my agent rang telling me they’d offered me the part of the choreographer ‘Rory’ and second cover… me ‘Kevin Costner’ and I’m thinking ‘yeah, I can play Kevin Costner’… my agent… ‘STALKER!’
What can you tell us about your character Rory and how he fits into the storyline?
Well ultimately ‘Rory’ is a top L.A. choreographer so I based him on Wade Robson and Brian Friedman. Really, Rory in the play is there to set up part of Rachel’s team and shows what it would be like in a rehearsal environment. There won’t be any awards coming my way but if I can give a sense of setting up Rachel as a top diva then I’ve done my job.
Being part of a new show, what has the atmosphere been like during rehearsals?
Wonderful and stressful. A new show can be a scary place because you’re walking unknown territory. You have no idea whether it’s going to work well, be awful or worse, just ok. When I read through the script I knew it was good but there’s still a chance that it may not go to plan. Luckily for us we had Thea Sharrock shaping the whole project, top that with Chris Egan, Mike Dixon and our two leads Heather Headley and Lloyd Owen, so very quickly we could feel we had something. The toughest part was the constant changes to the choreography during rehearsals, but we all believed in the show and want to make it the absolute best it can be which I think we’ve achieved.
How does it feel to be originating a role?
It’s great, you just have to be open-minded and keep throwing ideas out there, be prepared to be cut down, then added, then cut down again, it’s all part of the process.
The Bodyguard film was obviously a smash hit, how does the musical compare to the film?
I grew up with the film, had posters of Whitney on my wall when I was training at college and was a massive fan of the movie so I was so excited to be a part of this project. You always hear people sigh and say ‘another film turned musical’ and in some cases I would agree. But with this show it works on so many levels, you don’t feel like you’re watching a musical, you feel like you’re watching a play/movie because the songs fit as the story develops and the projections make you feel like you’re, say, in a cinema.
Which is your favourite song in the musical?
‘I have nothing’. I love watching Whitney perform this in the movie, I was totally in awe as she was my favourite female singer. Heather Headley though takes my breath away, she’s a brilliant actress and her voice just amazes me every night, in the recording studio scene she sings the entire song with different riffs throughout and never hits a bum note! I love being able to witness that night after night, a real treat!
Why should everyone come along to see the show?
It’s a real chance to see a new type of musical and witness some real talent. Every weekend people tune in to talent shows that simply can’t compete with the talent that’s in a live West End show. I encourage people to get out to the West End and view real talent because you’re being conned by TV.
Any message for followers of your career?
I like to think I talk to all of those people on Twitter, Facebook or in person. It’s awesome to hear from people so thanks for the support.
You can follow David Page on Twitter @PAGESPLAY
Interviewed by Neil Cheesman who you can follow on Twitter @LondonTheatre1