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Who are we? How well do you know West End Cast?

Question MarkA just for fun quiz: Here are questions and answers from interviews with 10 West End actors/actresses all with a ‘connection’ from one to the next.

Who are the actors/actresses? Do you know what each of the ‘connections’ are without looking at the interviews?

In 2001 you were chosen to succeed Scott Davies as The Phantom, can you recall what it was like during auditioning for the role?
I was naturally nervous until I found out that I was auditioning against John Barrowman for the role. I presumed he would get the part so I decided to relax and enjoy the audition and use it as a learning experience. I guess the idea worked as I got the job. Lesson: there’s no such thing as a foregone conclusion!

What is it that you like best about playing the role of Christine?
Different things each night. I love her compassion. I love her relationship with music. I deeply love singing both scores! The role of Christine (in both Phantom of the Opera and Love Never Dies) is a huge challenge – physically, vocally, emotionally – and it’s so satisfying to find the stamina to face that challenge head on!

Apart from Gangle what is a favourite role that you have performed?
I played the character ‘Squidward Tentacles’ in the musical version of ‘Spongebob Squarepants’. It opened at the Hackney Empire in 2009, did a UK tour, and a short run at the Hammersmith Apollo. I loved that character! It was so much fun trying to re-create a well established cartoon character into a live performance on stage. To prepare for the role I bought 9 DVD’s of the TV programme and acted out every single one in my bedroom (my flatmates thought I went a bit weird in the head and starting locking their bedroom doors at night)…. it took ages to perfect the voice and the way he used his arms.

At the time of this interview you are playing the librarian Mrs Phelps in Matilda the Musical – a role you have originated (you were part of the original Stratford cast last year). Please tell us about your lovely and caring Mrs Phelps. “Who” is she? What makes her tick?
There is nothing I can say about Phelpsy that Roald Dahl hasn’t already said. Matilda reads under her ‘watchful and compassionate eye’, she is ‘filled with wonder and excitement’. Those four attributes are the pillars of my performance. I am there for those children, I am there to show them that they are listened to, that they matter, that they are magnificent and wondrous and that I am a captive audience. Phelpsy is a lover of words. ‘Sit back and allow the words to wash around you, like music.’ she says. Thank you Mr Dahl, thank you.

You originated the role of ‘Emmett Forrest’ in the hit musical ‘Legally Blonde’ and completely made it your own –  a very hard act to follow for future ‘Emmetts’! What would you say is the most important thing about Emmett and how you feel he should be portrayed?
Of course there are many ways to play Emmett, but however you play him I think it is absolutely crucial to play him as truthfully as possible.  For the musical to work we have to totally believe Emmett’s character and the connection he has with Elle.  In the show he is very much the catalyst that drives Elle to turn her life around and succeed at Harvard, and the relationship they develop through the show has to be believable for the audience to connect with the story.

You originated the role of Bob Gaudio in Jersey Boys. What was this theatrical journey like for you?
It was great. I knew it was going to be a challenge for me but it’s one of those things; the audition has just kind of crept up on you and suddenly you find you got the part and you had a sneaking suspicion all the way through, which I tend to do. I go ‘Yeah this is the one I’m gonna get or this is not the one I’m gonna get’… I kind of know.

For those that haven’t seen the show, can you tell us about your character and how he fits into the storyline?
Tommy is the man who is the self-proclaimed engineer of the band. He is from blue collar New Jersey and grew up in the fifties. He is a first generation American of an Italian family.

You then performed as the lead role Frank-N-Furter in The Rocky Horror Show for the 30th-anniversary UK tour. What was it like touring in such a successful show?
Funnily enough we had a Rocky Horror Show reunion recently with the 2003 cast: Jon Boyden, Katie Rowley-Jones, Drew Jameson, Kevin Kennedy; such a fantastic cast. The best time of my life was Rocky Horror both on-stage and off-stage.

You performed in Chicago at the Cambridge theatre and then the Garrick Theatre. What can you tell us about the show?
I first saw Chicago with Ruthie Henshall and Ute Lemper about 2 weeks into its run at the Adelphi. I was in love with it. Those ladies were incredible together. The whole cast were incredible and the show has such style. Even now, I still adore the score, I never tire of it. The role I play now was played then by Charles Shirvell. What a star.

The 139+ characters in The 39 Steps are played by four actors and is also a physically demanding play. How long did it take you to feel ‘comfortable’ in the role?
The other three actors are the ones with all the characters to play – fortunately I’m Richard Hannay throughout. As to feeling comfortable, it came with time and work.

Do you know who the 10 actresses are above and what each of the connections are? Answers will be published on this website next Thursday, but if you want to know if you have them all correct, then email me at neil@londontheatre1.com – This is a ‘just for fun quiz’ so no prizes!

Author

  • Neil Cheesman

    First becoming involved in an online theatre business in 2005 and launching londontheatre1.com in September 2013. Neil writes reviews and news articles, and has interviewed over 150 actors and actresses from the West End, Broadway, film, television, and theatre. Follow Neil on Twitter @LondonTheatre1

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