Tag Archives: INTERVIEWS

The Monster and Mary Shelley, an interview with performer Catherine Gillard, director Peter Clerke and writer Stewart Ennis

In celebration of 200 years since the publication of her most famous novel Frankenstein, The Occasion Theatre has announced the Scottish tour of their new production exploring the life of Mary Shelley.

Director Peter Clerke, writer Stewart Ennis, and performer Catherine Gillard gives us some insight into the production that begins at the Tron Theatre on 20th April.

What drew you to a play about Mary Shelley?

Peter: Firstly, the details of her life; which was remarkable. The more you discover about what she achieved and lived through, the more fascinating she becomes as a person. Then there’s the whole period through which she lived, a time of enormous scientific discovery, of philosophical and cultural change. She was at the forefront of this new, bold world; a world rich with possibilities for dramatisation and of great relevance to the present day.

What can people expect when they come to see The Monster and Mary Shelley?

Catherine: An entertaining production which celebrates the fascinating life of Mary Shelley and asks questions about how and why she went about writing her most famous novel. As a one woman performance the story is told from Mary’s point of view using different incidents from her life, but we look at these from a contemporary view – as if Mary was here today and looking back from now. This isn’t a naturalistic drama – it’s an atmospheric and abstract interpretation of what she might be thinking today looking back.

Peter: It’s been a fascinating show to work on and the contributions from everyone involved – writer, musician, actor, set and lighting designers – have been immense. We think it’ll entertain, introduce a very significant writer and thinker to a new audience and, hopefully, provoke a few questions along the way.

How did you approach writing The Monster and Mary Shelley?

Stewart: I read a couple of biographies of her including an early one by Muriel Spark, who revisited and revised her Mary Shelley biography throughout her life. Then of course, when we discovered that 2018 was the 200th anniversary of the publication of Frankenstein, along came a never-ending stream of books, articles, lectures, radio documentaries etc.  That said, this was never going to be a straightforward historical drama with an actress dressed up in period costume, telling us Mary Shelley’s life from the day she was born until the day she died. It was more a case of forming an impression of Mary Shelley that allowed us to be playful with her but which also felt truthful and respectful, and figuring out how this extraordinary woman’s life and work had relevance for us today.

Rehearsal image: Stewart Ennis

The play explores some of the events in Mary’s life that led to the creation of Frankenstein. How do you weave humour into this at times tragic story?

Stewart: I think that a creative spirit like Mary Shelley must have had a sense of humour; her letters and journals suggest as much. Yes, there was a great deal of tragedy in her life, and a lot of it is explored in this show, but it feels important not to define her by it, or in some way to present her as tragic or as a victim. She lived a life and she dealt with her troubles, and like any human being, humour is one way of dealing with that. The style of the show also helps in that respect.  The language is quite anachronistic but we have also included readings from Frankenstein, songs, and theatrical elements from her time, such as melodrama.

Catherine: We have to remember that Mary Shelley was a teenager when she wrote Frankenstein. She didn’t lead up to writing this book with the idea that it would define her – she was just living and coping with everything that life threw at her. And it wasn’t all wonderful – her mother died shortly after Mary’s birth; her father remarried soon afterwards and Mary didn’t get on particularly well with her new stepmother; she was well educated then bundled off to Scotland around the age of 14; and then she met Percy Bysshe Shelley who was already married. They fell in love and ran away to Europe. She was sixteen! She wanted her own life, she was a teenager – she must have been pretty wild and that on its own gives a humour. A spark of life, not just a tragedy. All this plus the fact that she was hanging out with artistic, radical libertarians – they were all for challenging the norms. There had to be funny stuff going on!

Having delved into the life Mary Shelley, what do you most admire about her? 

Catherine: I found it extraordinary that by the age of 25 Mary had lived through the loss of her mother, 4 children and her husband, not to mention the suicide of both her half-sister, Fanny and her husband’s first wife, Harriet. Her ability to cope with this level of tragedy and continue to live and work in a society where female writers were still not accepted was amazing. Most of all I admire her imagination and intelligence – to write a novel that continues to fascinate and spark ideas to this day is an astonishing achievement.

How relevant is Mary Shelley today?

Peter: Very – perhaps, unfortunately. The issues that she was most concerned with, of equality, freedom of expression and acceptance have progressed in the past 200 years but, in the #Metoo campaign, ‘fake news’ scandals and the continuing persecutions of minority communities these are still very live issues. Mary Shelley was undoubtedly ahead of her time; we, it can perhaps be argued, are somewhat behind.

What are your views on the original Frankenstein novel?

Stewart: I first read it about thirty years ago and to be honest only had a vague recollection of what it was all about.  I had been brought up on the countless Frankenstein films (the Boris Karloff Universal, the Christopher Lee Hammer, the Mel Brooks and the Abbot & Costello) all of which coloured my vision. It was one of the real pleasures of this process to go back to the original novel (or novels, she did a major rewrite many years later) and discover/be reminded that the creature is not some lumbering mute monstrosity with bolts through its neck, but agile in body and in mind and with such a deep longing to be loved.  You could say that he – the creature – is a product of an absolutely terrible, brutal, loveless upbringing and his actions are a reflection of that. It’s a more complex book than I think people imagine, and if our play moves people to read the novel, then I’d be delighted.

Atmospheric, moving and darkly comic with a pulsing, cinematic score, this is a contemporary voyage into the life of Mary Shelley – the Gothic Girl who electrified the world. Presented by The Occasion Theatre.

LISTINGS

Fri 20 – Sat 21 Apr

Tron Theatre, Glasgow

8pm

Tickets: £11/£8.50 conc.

Box Office: 0141 552 4267

www.tron.co.uk

 

Wed 25 Apr

Platform, Glasgow

7pm

Tickets: £8.50/£5 conc./£4 Local Links

Box Office: 0141 276 9696

www.platform-online.co.uk

 

Thu 26 Apr

Macrobert Arts Centre, Stirling

7.30pm

Tickets: £12.50/£10.50 conc./£5.50 students

Box Office: 01786 466 666

www.macrobertartscentre.org

 

Wed 2 May

Byre Theatre, St. Andrews

7.30pm

Tickets: £12/£10 conc.

Box Office: 01334 475000

www.byretheatre.com

 

Thu 3 May

Beacon Arts Centre, Greenock

7.30pm

Tickets: £12/£10 conc.

Box Office: 01475 723 723

www.beaconartscentre.co.uk

 

Fri 4 May

Eastgate Theatre & Arts Centre, Peebles

7.30pm

Tickets: £14/£12/£16 U15s

www.eastgatearts.com

 

Sat 5 May

The Brunton, Musselburgh

7.30pm

Tickets: £13.50/£11.50/£8.50 U18s

www.thebrunton.co.uk

 

Mon 7 May

Mull Theatre, Tobermory

8pm

Tickets: £10/£8

www.comar.co.uk

 

Wed 9 May

Skye Theatre, Isle of Skye

8pm

Tickets: £14/£12 Members/£7 Students and Young People/Seasons Free

www.seall.co.uk

 

Fri 11 May

Universal Hall, Findhorn

8pm

Tickets: £12/£10 Concs./£8 U16s

www.wegotickets.com/UniversalHall

 

Sat 12 May

Lyth Arts Centre, Lyth

8pm

Tickets: £14/£12/£6

www.lytharts.org.uk

INTERVIEW: Star of Ghost the Musical Stewart Clarke talks to Glasgow Theatre Blog

At just 22, Stewart Clarke has a CV that would be the envy of most actors, currently garnering rave reviews for his portrayal of the tragic hero Sam in the highly acclaimed national tour of Ghost the Musical, Glasgow Theatre Blog caught up with Stewart during the Edinburgh run of the show. 

Can you tell our readers a bit about your background and what or who inspired you to become an actor?

Both my parents are actors so it was perhaps inevitable that I would follow a similar path! I initially wasn’t too interested in the world of performing, rebelling in a typical teenage fashion but when I did eventually dip my toe in the water there was no looking back. My parents have and always will be so supportive of me, they are definitely my biggest inspiration.

How did you go about pursuing your career?

It just kind of happened! I knew I loved performing and would like nothing more than to follow a career in the arts but after four years at University, the prospect of continuing further studies at a drama school was going to be too expensive. It was only when my agent spotted me at a concert with the National Youth Music Theatre that it all become a reality.

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You have a wide range of roles on your CV – up until Sam, which has been your favourite?

Leo Frank in Parade will always hold a special place for me, simply because I adore the show. The true story it is based on is just unbelievably heart breaking, and Jason Robert Brown’s music only serves to heighten this. It was a fantastic acting challenge and one of those parts that really stays with you long after the curtain falls.

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You were involved with the short-lived but publicly loved Loserville – a lot of buzz was generated around the show, how did it feel being in it?

It was great fun! I only joined the show in the summer for it’s West End transfer but it was one of those shows where everyone was a similar sort of age and many of us were making our West End debuts together. It was a colorful, fun show that never took itself too seriously and as a result was a joy to perform. The fans of the show were so enthusiastic, you could really tell that it made an impact on them.

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The reactions to Ghost have been overwhelmingly positive, how are you enjoying the tour so far?

Loving it – it’s a draining role but so, so rewarding. Plus, the cast around me is fantastic too. I love working with Rebecca Trehearn playing Molly – she’s a dream, and David Roberts is a superb Carl. Wendy Mae Brown’s Oda Mae is a thing of comic beauty as well; it’s just such an honour to be performing with such talented people.

Stewart Clarke & Rebecca Trehearn 6 - Ghost The Musical - Photo Credit Sean Ebsworth Barnes

Ghost has been said to be the most technically complex production ever to tour the UK; has that had an impact on the actors?

Surprisingly not! I think it’s because we have such a phenomenal stage crew behind the scenes who just ensure everything runs so smoothly that we never even notice the tech. But the audience definitely will notice it – some of the illusions and technical set pieces are jaw-dropping.

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You have big shoes to fill in this part; how did you go about making such an iconic role as Sam your own?

Well by not actually watching the film surprisingly enough! Still haven’t seen it and don’t plan to as the Sam I’m currently playing is purely my Sam. Obviously I’m aware of the Swayze legacy, but this is a different piece in a different medium and I want to reflect that.

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In such an emotionally draining show how do you unwind in your down time.

Been watching a lot of American TV on things like Netflix recently – there are so many quality shows being produced over there right now. Also a few of us try to hit the gym as regularly as possible, we’re very lucky here in Edinburgh to have a spa as well so the steam room/Jacuzzi certainly helps with the relaxing!

What advice would you give to anyone contemplating an acting career?

Make sure you seize every single opportunity you are handed. You never know who is going to be watching or what will come of it in the future. People talk about needing to be lucky to get into acting and that is certainly true, but you can make the odds fall in your favour if you are putting yourself out there as much as possible.

What career ambitions would you still like to fulfill?

I’m 22 and just starting out – I’d say there is still everything left to fulfill! I’ve been blessed so far and as long as I can keep performing then I’m going to be happy.

Finally, what three words best describe Stewart Clarke?

Still always learning!

For more information about Stewart visit http://www.stewartclarke.co.uk/

Follow Stewart on Twitter @StewClarke

GHOST runs at the King’s Theatre Glasgowfrom Tuesday 1st October until Saturday 19th October – tickets here

INTERVIEW: John McLarnon

Earlier this year Glasgow Theatre Blog had the chance to catch up with Scottish actor John McLarnon. At the time John was appearing in We Will Rock You at the Dominion Theatre in London’s West End, this week he has just begun previews of The Commitments at The Palace Theatre and if the standing ovations from the audience are anything to go by then this talented performer has another hit on his hands.

As well as being an acclaimed musical theatre performer, John is also a talented singer-songwriter. Here is Glasgow Theatre Blog’s original interview with John.

Can I start by asking a bit about your road from small boy in Scotland to the West End? What first sparked your interest in performing?

It was actually in my 5th year of high school, the annual school show which that year was ‘South Pacific’ was desperately short on guys, my English teacher at the time, urged me to audition.  I was very hesitant as I had never done anything like it before and it wasn’t deemed very ‘cool’ at that age, but I decided to give it a go.  I was cast as the comedy lead and completely ‘caught the bug’ as they say.  From that I joined my local amateur drama club ‘Studio 32’ and it all started from there..

Tell us how you went from being interested in performing to actually training and pursuing a theatrical career.

I was studying an honours degree in Commercial Music at The University of the West Scotland during my days, but my nights were filled with rehearsing or performing, and I realised in my second year that I was getting much more out of theatre than my degree course.  After graduating from UWS I decided to travel and moved to Australia for a year, it was then I decided that I wanted to turn my hobby into a professional career (or at least give it a go).  Once I was back home I auditioned for the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama’s MA musical theatre course, whilst auditioning for every amateur production I could in and around Glasgow to get as much experience as possible.  Before starting my training in the September I was involved in five separate productions at the same time, rehearsing every night of the week, but once I started training I had such a better understanding of the genre and what I wanted to get out of it.

Do you have any theatrical role models or is there anyone whose theatrical career you would like to emulate?

There are definitely loads of performers who I admire.  Musical theatre actors such as Raul Esparza, Hadley Fraser, Ramin Karimloo are all extremely inspiring as are Scottish actors who have made the successful jump from theatre to film, such as James Mcavoy & David Tennant.  These guys have careers to die for, but I think in order to work in this business and stay relevant you have to realise what ‘you’ have to offer and what makes you original as a performer.  I have learned so much with each job I have done from the actors and directors around me, and try to constantly better myself and challenge myself as a performer.

At RSAMD (now the Royal Conservatoire) you were involved in the highly successful New Musical Developments programme, where you helped create the critically acclaimed Wasted Love, tell me about that.

Essentially two very talented guys (The Kielty Brothers) brought a few songs to a group of about eight of us.  Under the direction of Andrew Panton we talked about all our relationship mishaps and funny love stories (which there were a lot of) and began constructing monologues out of them and matching up certain songs.  We presented a very rough draft at the end of the week in the RSAMD and we got an overwhelming response, so John & Gerry were sent away to write a full script specifically for us to perform at the Fringe.  They brought back a brilliantly funny script and score and we began putting our own little characters together and after about two weeks of rehearsal we took it to Edinburgh where it became a festival hit.  Since Edinburgh we have showcased the show at Òran Mór in Glasgow & The Actors Church in Covent Garden, and in Spring this year we start development on a 2 act version, which everyone is extremely excited about as we have all been there since day 1, its great to see something that was just a wee idea in a windowless room blossom into something that we are all extremely proud of.

WastedLoveLogo

For more information check out www.wastedlovethemusical.com

You’ve appeared at the Edinburgh Fringe, first with RSAMD’s One Academy Productions, and last year with Clinton the Musical; tell us about your Fringe experience.

The Fringe is incredible.  It is hard to describe it, you just have to experience it.  Its manic, there is never enough dressing room space, everyone walks to their theatre pretty much dressed as their characters, which can be eye-opening, you take your bow then immediately start striking set and clearing out for the next performance, its pretty unique!  And there is always so much going on around you, new exciting things to see and also stuff you wish you hadn’t seen, but that’s all part of the beauty of it.  Although I would suggest doing a bit of a detox the month or so before starting your run, as I found out with Clinton last year, quick changes between shows mean that junk food becomes your staple diet, but you can justify it as its all part of the ‘experience’ or at least that’s what I did.

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You’re currently making your West End debut as Rebel Leader in We Will Rock You; tell us about the character and what it’s like joining the cast of such an established and well-loved show.

It’s a bit of a dream come true landing this role, as We Will Rock You was the very first show I saw in the West End almost 10 years ago now.  My Dad is also a massive Queen fan so I grew up listening to the music, so it has a big old place in my heart.  Admittedly as with starting any new job I was a little apprehensive, but the creative team were so supportive, encouraging and genuinely lovely during what was quite a long audition process, I knew that I would be made to feel right at home.  My character ‘Robbie Williams’ leads the band of rebels who live underground constantly searching for the ‘Dreamer’ who will resurrect Roll & Roll music in a future world where it is has been outlawed. He is definitely the self-appointed leader, and loves the sound of his own voice, at times he becomes almost like a petulant teenager desperate to be heard above everyone else, but he does mean well and redeems himself in the end.  He would essentially be one of those characters you see in movies who head up a war effort from a big comfy chair, smoking a pipe, whilst the others fight it out on the front-line .  He is such great fun to play and I also play him in my native accent which is an added bonus.

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How do you spend your days when you are in a long running role?

You have to try and keep busy a lot of the time and try and stay creative with other projects, which in turn help keep your performance fresh in the evenings.  Since starting the show, I have been writing a lot in my days and also getting out to see some matinees of different shows in London which is a welcome novelty.  Also because you work at night, all the glamorous household chores have to be done during the day (nobody likes to here that).  I’ve also joined a gym across from the theatre which I try to get to most days, having came off the back of a Fringe season straight to joining a cast full of impeccably fit dancers I felt a little out of shape (fat) so I thought I better take the plunge. 

You have already appeared in a range of vastly different musical theatre roles in: Sunday in the Park with George, Elegies for Angels, Punks and Raging Queens, Wasted Love, Clinton the Musical and Jekyll and Hyde; what’s the moment in your career you’re most proud of?

Without sounding too clichéd, it was definitely walking out in We Will Rock You on the first night, to make my west-end debut with all my family watching, it was a completely packed house and the buzz on stage was like nothing I have ever experienced.  It was the culmination of a lot of hard work, and I don’t think I’ll ever forget it.

You’re an accomplished singer-songwriter tell us about your own music and what your hopes are for it.

I had been writing music for years, but never seemed to be able to finish songs, but last year when I was in panto in Perth, I had a bit of free time here and there so I started writing and actually to my surprise…..finished some songs, and from there it kind of snowballed.  I have about an album worth of songs now, and I plan to start gigging properly in London with them in the spring time and hopefully record a little EP in the summer.  It’s a great creative outlet, and I find it very rewarding, I really just want to let people hear it now.

I have also started writing some music & lyrics for a brand new musical which should hopefully see the light of day next year sometime.

john 1

Watch John perform Take Me Home at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2xkXnS105LA

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and Sweetheart at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7XjelCVHOJY

Is there any advice you’d give to a young aspiring performer in Scotland thinking of pursuing a career in the theatre?

Just keep throwing yourself into as many amateur productions as possible, there is a wealth of talent in Scotland and some brilliant work being produced.  It will tell you if you really do want to pursue a career in theatre, and if you do then you have to take the plunge and get some drama school auditions under your belt.  Be honest to yourself about your abilities and your casting and you will improve as a performer much quicker.  Probably the most important one is to never rest on your laurels, if you land a big job, its very easy to sit back and relax but you have to keep learning, be it singing lessons or dance class whatever, this industry moves so so quick and you always have to be one step ahead of the game.

Oh and finally if you are a guy with a strong Glaswegian accent don’t be offended when you constantly get auditions for the ‘baddie’ because it will happen trust me, but don’t worry those parts are the most fun to play!

Finally, if you could create your own production to star in, what would it be and who would you cast alongside you?

Ha ha that is an interesting question, I think it would have to be football related unfortunately, I used to play every week, but since starting in WWRY its too much of a risk in case I get injured and I miss it terribly, so a mix of the two would be perfect!  And casting wise, well I would probably just cast the full RSAMD musical theatre contingent down here in London as we are slowly taking over the city.

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The Commitments is currently showing at The Palace Theatre, London

Follow John on Twitter @JohnMcLarnon

For more information on The Commitments go to http://www.thecommitmentslondon.com/

INTERVIEW: Hannah Boyce, Scottish star of Dreamboats and Petticoats

With a starring role in the ever-popular Dreamboats and Petticoats straight out of drama school (she graduates this summer), Hannah Boyce is a star on the rise. Here she talks to Glasgow Theatre Blog about her journey from Scotland to the professional stage.

Can you tell us a bit about your background and what inspired you to become a performer?

I grew up just outside Glasgow in Milton of Campsie with my parents and Becky and Greg- my older brother and sister.  I did amdram with the Kirkintilloch Players and did lots of drawings and wrote silly stories!  At this time I wanted to write and illustrate kids’ books and I don’t think I understood that being an actress was a real job!  Then on Pancake Day, 11 years ago, my parents got tickets to see Cats in the Kings Theatre Glasgow and I loved it SO much!  I got the CD and the video and collected loads of memorabilia and that was the first musical I saw! After that we would go and see everything that toured close by and that’s when I realised that I wanted to be on the stage!

Tell us about your training.

My first formal training was at UK Theatre School, once I’d started to show a real interest in Theatre, which was such a great start for me as a young performer.  They managed to get the balance right between fun and actually teaching some pretty challenging stuff.  I was lucky enough to be taught by some really great people including Paul Christie and Chris Wilson who were very supportive and played a big part in my training at that time.  I also met some lovely friends there who I am still in touch with and can’t wait to see while I’m back in Scotland!  I then auditioned for the Preparatory Theatre Course at the Dance School of Scotland in Knightswood Secondary School, gaining a place and starting proper full-time training.  I then progressed onto the Musical Theatre Course, where I was helped by the amazing staff with my auditions for drama school.  Four years of brilliant training meant that I was accepted onto the BA Musical Theatre Course at the Guildford School of Acting which had been my ultimate aim from the start of my training!  I trained there for three years and I’m technically still there I suppose- I graduate in August!  The training at GSA is exceptional and the way the course focusses on building up technical stamina to perform ‘8 shows a week’ has been the best preparation for this tour!  Whilst at GSA I was very fortunate to be part of a hugely talented and hilarious year group who have done so well already! Very proud.

You’ve just started the UK tour of Dreamboats and Petticoats- tell us a bit about your character, the rehearsals and how it’s all going so far?

I’m playing the character of Laura.  She’s a 15 year old, geeky girl who loves writing music and is completely in love with Bobby- fellow school swat, but doesn’t know how to tell him! The story’s main plot is about Bobby and Laura’s relationship and a song writing competition that they want to enter.  This part is so much fun to play.  She’s at that stage where she’s flooded with hormones and never really knows the right thing to say!  She’s so awkward and endearing, not your traditional leading lady!  We’ve just opened the show after twelve days of rehearsal! It was heads down and late nights but the cast is so lovely to work with and we managed to have fun and stay positive even under that high pressure situation.

Can you give us an insight into the show and why you think it is so popular with audiences?

The show is just completely harmless and funny! It is so accessible and fast paced with amazing pop songs that most people already know! I think it’s so popular because it’s a great night out that literally gets people dancing in the isles.  The characters are so real that they’re easy to relate to and the script is hilarious which makes it almost like a funny little sitcom as well!  I met a man the other night who had seen the show over 40 times and says he still enjoyed it as much this time round as the first!

Up until now what has been your favourite role to play?

My favourite role to play was in GSA’s production of Sweet Charity where I was ensemble but was given the amazing opportunity of being Dance Captain.  It was all original choreography, so I did lots of work shopping with the choreographer, Stuart Winter, to come up with some really special stuff! It was such a challenge and I will always remember it!

Are there any roles you would like to play or shows you would like to be part of in the future?

I would love to do all sorts of things! Working professionally in theatre at all is amazing.  The statistics are absolutely against us!  I would be so happy doing anything, but there are some shows that I have my eye on while I can still get away with looking really young! I would love to do Mamma Mia- I went to see it with my family and it’s the only show that my Dad has given a standing ovation to! Says it all really! The big West End shows like Wicked and Les Miserables are obvious choices and dream shows for every performer, but Nessa Rose in Wicked is a lovely part! Also, it’s always been a big ambition of mine to originate a role.  That would be a massive deal!

There are many people out there contemplating a career in acting- what advice would you give to them?

I think everyone approaches this strange career differently but I can tell you what worked for me!  I think getting a good training is very important! Auditioning for drama school is really stressful and can be off-putting.  Most people don’t get offered a place first time but I think it’s so important to persevere to give yourself the best start! With training, don’t read too much into things! Pick and choose the things you are taught that work for you! Not everything will, and it’s just as important to discover the things that don’t work, because then you can come up with your own unique strategy that gets the best out of you.  Take criticism and act on it.  Have at least one part of your life that isn’t to do with theatre or acting, whether it’s a part time job or a hobby, it’s very useful to have an escape from it all when it gets a bit intense.  Learn an instrument! That’s what’s in demand- you’ll thank me when it comes to auditions!!

If you hadn’t become an actor what do you think you’d be doing now?

Well I wanted to do all sorts of things growing up! But I think I would be doing something in art.  Which is just as tricky as acting! I never choose the easy option!

Which performers inspire you?

There are so many people who inspire me from all sorts of productions and films I’ve seen! When I see an actor who listens and when you believe everything they say, that’s what does it for me.  Anne Hathaway in Princess Diaries was a huge inspiration to me growing up, and I still think she’s an amazing actress and such a beautiful woman! She seems happy and healthy too, which is lovely to see when there are so many actors who get overwhelmed and fall apart.  She’s a great role model, I think.

What can we expect next from Hannah Boyce?

Oh God, I have no idea!! This is my first job and who knows when the next one will come along!  Until then I’ll hopefully be doing lots of auditions and hope to get back to teaching, which I’m missing already! I would love to try and settle in London and have an address again! But although it’s scary flying constantly by the seat of your pants, it’s also exciting never knowing what’s next! It’s not the most stable of career choices, but I wouldn’t have it any other way!

DREAMBOATS and PETTICOATS visits Edinburgh and Glasgow this summer:

8 – 13 Jul 2013
Edinburgh Playhouse, Edinburgh
Click here to Book Tickets or call the Box Office 0844 871 3014.

19 – 24 Aug 2013
Kings Theatre, Glasgow
Click here to Book Tickets or call the Box Office 0844 871 7648.

Read more at http://www.dreamboatsandpetticoats.com/the-musical/#zUXsx1yRw06eJGl7.99

Follow Hannah on Twitter @HannahKateBoyce

On Facebook https://www.facebook.com/hannah.boyce.7

INTERVIEW: Sophie Bould – Bringing some High Society to Glasgow

In the last few years Sophie Bould has been steadily gaining a reputation as one of the most gifted stage actresses in the country. From her West End debut in the original Andrew Lloyd Webber production of The Sound of Music, to her recent role as Lily in The Secret Garden, Sophie has been winning lead roles and rave reviews. This week Sophie comes to Scotland in High Society at Edinburgh’s Festival Theatre alongside Michael Praed and Daniel Boys. Glasgow Theatre Blog had a chance to chat to Sophie about this much loved show.

You’ve just embarked on an extensive UK tour; how does it feel to be out on the road for such a prolonged period of time?

I’m pretty excited actually as I’ll be visiting a lot of cities I’ve never been to before. I’ve been on a national tour before with the Michael Frayn play Noises Off which visited Glasgow, but this time because it’s six months I’ll be seeing a lot more of the country. I do miss home though.

Do you take any home comforts with you on tour to make things a bit easier?

I always take a few bits and pieces, I have lots of photographs with me: some wedding ones to pin to my pin board and ones of my little nephews, oh and the odd scented candle, just a few little creature comforts to remind me of home.

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High Society is such a well-loved story, why do you think it still has such appeal after all this time?

I think it can resonate with anyone, anyone of any age or any walk of life. At the heart of it it’s about love and finding the person you truly love, I think will resonate with anyone who comes to see it. In this production in particular we have some wonderful people in the roles. Michael Praed (Dexter Haven) and Daniel Boys (Mike Connor) are wonderful, the boys are beautiful and I love them, so I’m just grateful to be playing opposite such lovely and talented men.

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Michael Praed
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Daniel Boys

You’re following in the footsteps of Grace Kelly in the movie musical and Katharine Hepburn in the original Philadelphia Story; what have you done to make the character of Tracy Lord your own?

As you say they are quite large shoes to fill in that sense and I am quite wary of that. I haven’t watched the Grace Kelly movie since I was a child and when I found out I had the part I deliberately chose not to watch it in case I inadvertently picked up any of her mannerisms. I wanted to create Tracy Lord for myself in the rehearsal room with the director and the rest of the cast I’m playing opposite. We’ve talked a lot about the Philadelphia Story and I personally have done a lot of research on that and where the character of Tracy Lord actually came from. Philip Barry who wrote the original play, based the character on Philadelphia socialite Helen Hope Montgomery Scott and I researched her. It’s really interesting to base a character on a real life human being and make my own choices how to play her.

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The choreography for the tour has been created by the award-winning Andrew Wright, he’s  known for his innovative and often intricate work, are you a natural dancer or have you had to work hard at it?

Well I trained as a dancer years ago so it was in me somewhere and even though I haven’t done it in a while it was lovely to put the tap shoes back on.  Andrew is such a genius, he is such a talented man and a lovely one too, it really was an honour to work with him especially after just winning his award for Singin’ in the Rain. Yes, the choreography is tricky and its intricate but its not impossible, and as my mum always says practice makes perfect – I just watched repeated and thankfully by the end of rehearsals I’d got it. The ensemble are wonderful, they really carry all the amazing dance routines.

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Do you have any favourite songs or scenes from the show?

There are so many I don’t think I could choose. There’s a wonderful scene at the beginning of act two which starts with Let’s Misbehave and goes into Well Did You Evah and its such a big, feel good, group number. I love the really meaty scenes in this though, the script is wonderful, Arthur Kopit who wrote it worked really closely with us, altering the script as we went along, it is an absolute honour to have him on board. All the scenes with Tracy and Dexter and the scenes with Tracy’s father who is played by Craig Pinder I love.

Finally, do you have any plans for when the tour finishes apart from putting your feet up?

Definitely putting my feet up! But at the moment no plans. I guess auditioning will start again relatively soon. I will probably be going back into auditions in the next couple of months.

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High Society opens Tuesday 5th March and runs until Saturday 9th March at the Festival Theatre Edinburgh and visits Glasgow from Tuesday 30th April until Saturday 4th May.

For more information about the show and booking details: http://www.highsocietymusical.com/

Follow Sophie on Twitter @sophiebould

All production photographs copyright Pamela Raith 2013 – http://pamelaraith.com/ 

INTERVIEW: Rock of Ages’ Sandy Moffat talks to Glasgow Theatre Blog

Can I start by asking a bit about your road from Scotland to the West End, tell us about your background and what inspired you to become an actor?

I feel like my journey to the West End was a series of very fortunate events. I started acting at an amateur level when I was about 17 but didn’t consider it seriously as a career. I studied Mechanical Engineering at Aberdeen University for a year before deciding a life behind a desk wasn’t for me. I spent about a year gigging and doing bits and pieces before I auditioned for London Studio Centre (I’m still amazed that I got in as my talent was raw to say the least!). After a few years of training I was lucky enough to get a job as swing in We Will Rock You.

Who are your theatrical heroes?

I think my theatrical heroes would be Stephen Sondheim and Jason Robert Brown. I’m a huge fan of the complexity and intelligence in their compositions.

You have a very varied CV what have been the highlights up to now?

I’ve been very lucky so far in my career, I had a lot of great opportunities whilst performing in We Will Rock You. I sang at the Olympic handover ceremony in front of Buckingham Palace and performed with Queen on their world stadium tour. I also think performing “School’s out” with Alice Cooper at Rock of Ages was pretty cool!

I see you’ve done a bit of work in Germany, did that help you when preparing to play Franz!

I lived and worked in Cologne for 18 months and loved every second of it! I’ve got a real soft spot for Germany and if the right role came up I wouldn’t hesitate to return. I think it did help with my preparations for Franz, I’ve spent lots of time surrounded by Germans speaking English so I’m pretty good at impersonating the accent.

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The cast of Rock of Ages

Tell us about Franz in Rock of Ages – he’s certainly an unforgettable character – is he as much fun to play as he is to watch?

He is great fun to play! The problem is that he has so much energy, it gets tough to keep up sometimes. I’m very lucky that he’s such a funny character and the audience warms to him every night. I have some great lines and the show certainly never gets boring for me.

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Sandy (far left) in one of his eye-catching costumes as Franz

You are starring in eight shows a week, in a long running show how do you keep your performance fresh every night?

It’s the toughest part of my job. I think it’s important to re-invent the character from time to time and make sure that you always try new things, sometimes they won’t work but that’s how I find new things. I’m very lucky that I work with such great actors who are constantly throwing new things at me which makes it easy for me to keep what I do fresh. If it’s fresh for me then hopefully it’s fresh for the audience.

How do you unwind during your time away from the show?

I ride my motorcycle as much as possible! I love riding the bike into the country with my tent on the back and spending a few days living outside, I like to get away from London and relax. I also play the guitar and I enjoy watching films and on a Sunday I can be found sitting in the pub with a roast dinner.

A lot of actors are talented musicians, you say on your Twitter profile that you’re a rock star wannabe – are you making any plans to pursue that?

I’m 30 so I think I’ve missed the rock star boat, but I do really enjoy playing the guitar and I’d like to get out and do more singing and playing.

What music particularly inspires you?

I love Rock music which is why Rock of Ages is kind of my perfect job. When I got the audition I remember digging out all the songs I’ve always wanted to sing for auditions but were never suitable for musical theatre, I ended up singing Bon Jovi’s “In these Arms”.

What career aspirations do you have?

It sounds like a cliche but my main aim is to be happy in my work and I don’t really mind what I’m doing, as long as I can make a living of course! I’d like to try TV and film acting but for now I’m very happy doing musicals.

What can we expect next from Sandy Moffat?

Who knows?! My current contract at Rock Of Ages ends in September and it’s too soon to be making plans. The life of an actor is an unpredictable one so your guess is as good as mine.

Finally, how would you describe yourself in three words?

Immature through choice 😉

Follow Sandy on Twitter @sandy_moffat

For information and booking details for Rock of Ages visit http://www.rockofagesmusical.co.uk/

INTERVIEW: Shona White

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With starring roles in Chess, Wicked, Les Miserables, Shout, Mamma Mia and Rocky Horror, Shona White is one of the most highly acclaimed Scottish stars in Theatreland. Shona generously agreed to answer some questions about her stellar career for Glasgow Theatre Blog. 

Did your interest in performing start at an early age?

Yes I started singing solos at school services and in my village church when I was wee.

At what point did you decide to pursue performing as a career?

I used to get The Stage delivered and it made me want to go to Sylvia Young’s but my parents thankfully wanted me to get a good education in Scotland first. I did my Highers then moved down to London to go to Italia Conti when I was 17.

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Shona as Eponine in Les Miserables

You went on to study at the Royal Academy of Music; what ambitions did you have when you left there, and since you’ve achieved a huge amount in your career, how have they changed?

Well my first ambition was to be in Les Miserables and I actually left RAM early as I got into my dream show towards the end of my training. (I still got my diploma but unfortunately had to sacrifice the cap and gown ceremony as I was touring with the show).

I then had to rethink my ambitions as I had achieved the big one so early on in my career. Things change constantly and different shows come and go so I guess my goals have changed with them along the way. My next show was Merrily We Roll Along at The Donmar Warehouse directed by Michael Grandage, where I rubbed shoulders with Sam Mendes and Stephen Sondheim which I will never forget.There are still plenty of dream roles on my list but after Eponine the next dream role that came along was definitely Elphaba in Wicked which has become one of the most iconic roles in musical theatre.

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Merrily We Roll Along

The roles you’ve been lucky enough to play have been diverse; can you explain how you go about preparing for a role?

The practical side of the preparation is to learn my lines, music and lyrics but I find this needs to come hand in hand with setting the show in rehearsals. It helps to be familiar with the material before I start so I can have a framework to build on but I tend to cement my learning as I’m getting the part into my body physically in the space as well as vocally and mentally.

It is important to research the character and find as much information as possible from the existing material to have a background as a starting point. Relationships to other characters is also important so I can see how my character fits into the story.

With roles that require vocal stamina I try to sing the part into my body as a lot of performing it will become muscle memory and the voice, being a muscle, needs to be trained just like any other muscles in our body. By the same token with a big singing role I also try to rest my voice as much as possible when it is not required so it has time to recover before it’s next workout. Rehearsal periods are tough but necessary to build up stamina and put together all the relevant components.

I also think about what the character looks like physically and sometimes become a bit obsessed by this subconsciously and it can cross over into my everyday life. I was constantly wearing 60’s clothes when I was in Shout, In Mamma Mia I got blonder and blonder and more tanned by the day and wore turquoise obsessively. Thank goodness Wicked didn’t manifest itself in the same way. It might have been a bit hard to explain the green face in Sainsbury’s!

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A glimpse of the turquoise Mamma Mia outfit!

What’s been your favourite role to play so far?

It’s a close call between Elphaba in Wicked and Florence Vassy in Chess.

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As Chess’ Florence Vassy

What’s the moment in your career you’re most proud of?

I think performing the end of Defying Gravity in Wicked the night my Mum and Dad were watching the show and seeing how proud and emotional they were afterwards.

I’ve interviewed many Scottish performers for this series, and something that rather a lot have in common is Wicked; you’ve played the ultimate role in the show, Elphaba; tell us what it’s like playing such an iconic part.

Yes a lot of us Scots have been in Wicked. I love this fact!

What can I say? Elphaba is the most iconic female musical theatre role we’ve seen for years. It was a huge challenge to get my teeth into and an incredible thrill to play. I love the journey she goes on through the show and the music is so powerful. My favourite song to sing was definitely No Good Deed.

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As Elphaba

Craig Revel Horwood’s new production of Chess has been very well received, especially your performance as Florence Vassy; what was it like taking the performance to Toronto? Did the audience reaction differ to the UK?

It was an amazing experience taking the show to Toronto. It’s a fantastic city and it’s an experience I’ll never forget. I hope to to perform there again one day. We were made very welcome by the people there. I don’t think they’d witnessed anything quite like Craig and Sarah’s incredible actor musician interpretation of the show. The arrangements were wonderful and the cast were amazing playing,singing and dancing simultaneously. If I had a pound for the amount of people who thought the music was on a CD I’d be a very rich girl!

Your album I’ll Bring You a Song, is fantastically diverse; tell us how you selected the songs.

It was nigh on impossible as there are so many great songs to be sung. I will just have to keep doing more so I can get through them all! My producers had a big hand in choosing the tracks thank goodness as otherwise I don’t know how I would have narrowed it down. We tried to make it as varied as possible and include a lot of new writing which I am huge fan of as well as songs people would be familiar with. I also really wanted a Scottish song on there too to reflect my roots.

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Part of the series is to give advice to aspiring performers in Scotland; what would you say to someone contemplating a career on stage?

I’d say it is very important to get a solid education first. I am very grateful my parents made me do this. It is a highly competitive industry with a lot of ups and downs so really make sure it is the route for you. If it is your passion and you believe you have a real talent then work hard and follow your dreams…

Is there any production past or present you wish you could have been involved in?

Not that I can think of offhand but I have a list of parts I’d love to play which I won’t bore you with now. I would love to play Ellen in Miss Saigon which is rumoured to be having a revival very soon.

What do you do to relax when you’re not working?

I like to spend time with my nearest and dearest, watch movies and I love cooking. I am a huge Come Dine With Me fan and would love to be on it one day.

Finally, tell us what’s next for Shona White in 2013 and beyond?

I have just recorded a Friday Night is Music Night with the BBC Concert Orchestra singing alongside Hadley Fraser. Available on BBC iplayer here until 12th April.

I have a few projects in the pipeline including solo concerts and a new show involving the other two Shonas in the industry (One Scottish, one Irish so both Celtic).

I am also now a voice-over artist so maybe you’ll hear me randomly on adverts or perhaps singing on the next Brave movie… You never know.

Besides that I am waiting for the next amazing theatrical role I can throw myself into. Watch this space.

For more information on Shona visit www.shonawhite.com

Follow Shona on Twitter @singinghaggis

INTERVIEW: Scotland’s own star of smash hit Jersey Boys talks to Glasgow Theatre Blog

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Scottish actor David McGranaghan recently joined the cast of the West End smash Jersey Boys in the starring role of Nick Massi. David’s impressive  credits include: Colin in Chariots of Fire; Lucentio in The Taming of the Shrew; Father Damian in Be Near Me in the Donmar Warehouse/ National Theatre of Scotland production, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Boyfriend and Lady Be Good at the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre. 

Glasgow Theatre Blog had a chance to talk to David about his path from pupil at the Dance School of Scotland to the West End via the Royal Shakespeare Company and award-winning board game inventing!

Can we go back to the start, tell us about your background and what inspired you to become an actor.

I started off singing in my school’s music department. Through this came concerts and performances, so I almost fell into acting through my love for music. To move into working on scripts after performing lyrics and characters felt like a natural progression.

I see that you were a pupil at the Dance School of Scotland; I have interviewed many actors for this series and a large number are alumni of the school; what do you think it is about the training there that has produced so many top-rank West End performers?

I think that the teachers are very dedicated to their work, and their passion for the arts feeds into their pupils. Also they let us know from the very beginning that everything is down to hard work, so improvements are down to dedication and focus. I think from looking at myself and fellow Dance School students you can still see that in their attitude towards work and the industry.

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You have a very varied CV, from the RSC to the Regents Park Open Air Theatre and much more in between, what have been the highlights up to getting your current role in Jersey Boys?

I have been very lucky to jump around different types of theatre however working at the Donmar Warehouse which was a co-production with The National Theatre of Scotland was a great experience. It was a play called ‘Be Near Me’ which was set in my home turf of Ayrshire, and we premiered in Kilmarnock (40 minutes from my home) before we went down to London. Of course working on four completely different productions for the Royal Shakespeare Companies 50th Anniversary Season was another highlight. Working with phenomenal directors, actors and plays, it was as good as it can get for any young actor.

Before we talk about your starring role in Jersey Boys you are an award-winning entrepreneur, tell us about Game for Fame.

I invented a board game with fellow actor friend Joseph Pitcher (currently on tour with RSC’s Winter’s Tale) and we decided to go into business with it. It is fun family board game that takes the mick out of our celebrity obsessed society. Players must fight for fame and fortune by playing a number of fun games, and just like the real celeb circuit talent has nothing to do with success. While avoiding the Dole Queue or Re-Hab, players must attempt different games like guessing accents or talking with their tongue hanging out of their mouth, all with a very funny outcome (especially if a few glasses of wine are involved). It has been a great success for us both with deals from Tesco as well as a number of small stores and of course online, and we enjoy working on its success alongside our acting. For more information check out www.gameforfame.co.uk

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Let’s talk about your current starring role as Nick Massi in Jersey Boys, tell us a bit about the role of Nick and how you have prepared for it.

Nick is the bass player of the famous Four Seasons group. He is described as the ‘harmony genius’ and his three passions are music, woman and booze…in that order. Since he hates conflict or the arguments that the four guys find themselves in, he is often the quiet member of the group until he gets pushed too far and blows up. For playing Nick I taught myself Bass guitar for a start. Just playing a bass makes you feel very cool, simple and effortless, which is very much like Nick. I also did a lot of research about New Jersey, watched lots of Four Season performances with a fine tooth comb and watched movies based around the area and time of the group. After that the Jersey Boys creative team had so many stories that had been passed down from the band regarding the real Nick Massi that became a massive influence when building the character up.

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Jersey Boys is a phenomenal success in the West End, what is it like to join a show that is as well-established and well-loved as it is?

It’s exciting and intimidating at the same time. Since I was already a fan of the show I couldn’t wait to get the red jacket on and get going, however since it’s so well known you are aware that you are handling something that is precious to a lot of people, and if you mess up you will know about it. Thankfully that cast and creatives have all been great in guiding me during the rehearsal period while still giving me the freedom to explore my own ideas.

What do you think it is about Jersey Boys that makes it so popular with all age groups?

The music is timeless and appeals to all generations I think. I also think good theatre appeals to anyone no matter what age group they belong to. Our older audience members will remember some of the hits when they first came out however younger theatre goers will still surprise themselves with how many hits they know. The script is also based on their true story, and I think that each character and journey can resonate with all of us.

What drives you as a performer?

The excitement of auditioning or working on a role that you have lots of ideas for. Trying those ideas out and learning more about the character and yourself, going back to the drawing board and improving every time (well, hopefully improving). I think that is what drives me, the constant challenge and the never ending learning and discovering.

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 Are there any actors whom you admire or careers you’d like to emulate?

Hugh Jackman. Anyone that can do Oklahoma and Wolverine in one career has to be number one.

What ambitions would you still like to fulfil?

I now develop game shows for some companies off the back of Game For Fame so for one to work right through to commission would be a dream come true. Acting wise I’d love to do some Sondheim, Gabey in On The Town, work at venues such as The Globe and National and one day play MacBeth…not asking much really.

What advice would you give to any aspiring actors back home in Scotland?

Work hard. Put the hours in now and they will pay you back later.

Finally, what words best describe David McGranaghan?

Very good at Maths!

*DAVID AND HIS CO-STARS WILL BE APPEARING TOMORROW EVENING 6TH APRIL AT 7PM ON ANT AND DEC’S SATURDAY NIGHT TAKEAWAY*

Follow David on Twitter @dave_mcg3

Jersey Boys tickets and info at www.jerseyboyslondon.com

INTERVIEW: Amy Lennox

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Scottish actress Amy Lennox has a CV that would be the envy of most. On graduating from Guildford School of Acting Conservatoire In 2007, Amy auditioned in front of Andrew Lloyd Webber to win the role of Liesl in The Sound of Music, making her West End debut alongside Connie Fisher.  She then went on to appear as Margot as part of the original London Cast of Legally Blonde the Musical at the Savoy Theatre. After starring in the world premier concert of the Stiles and Drewe musical Soho Cinders, Amy recreated the character of Velcro in the full stage production of the musical at the Soho Theatre, for her role, Amy gained a Broadway World Awards nomination for Best Actress. Not confining herself to a purely musical career Amy has also starred in a new play directed by Rupert Gould Decade, written to mark the anniversary of 9/11.

Amy is currently touring the UK in Dolly Parton’s new musical, 9 to 5, playing Doralee Rhodes, the role made famous by Parton herself. The production returns to Glasgow for a phenomenal third run in August. Glasgow Theatre Blog had a chance to chat to Amy before she heads back to Scotland in this knock-out show.

You’re currently starring as Doralee in the highly successful tour of 9 to 5 (so successful in Glasgow in fact, that it had to come back for an extra week to meet demand); is it as fun to be in as it is to watch?

It will be our third time back actually! They added another very recently. I’m really excited to be returning again. Glasgow audiences are hands down the best! Yes it’s a lot of fun, myself, Natalie Casey and Jackie Clune immediately hit it off in rehearsals – it would have made the job a lot harder if we hadn’t ! We seem to share the same daft humour I think – people who have seen the show say we have great chemistry together which is so lovely to hear.

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Amy (centre) with co-stars Jackie Clune and Natalie Casey in 9 to 5

When starring in eight shows a week, how do you keep your performance fresh each night?

It’s tricky repeating yourself 8 times a week for a year – it certainly can play mind games with me – but it’s something I’ve come to accept with the territory. I constantly need to remind of myself to be ‘in the moment’ as cheesy as that sounds, because it’s all too easy to go into auto-pilot!

You have a CV that would be the envy of most actors; what’s been your favourite role to play so far?

I’m very grateful to have had a variety of different jobs ranging from musical theatre to straight plays and the odd filming. My main focus is to always keep my career varied. The last thing I would want would be to be shoehorned into one side of the business. For me the best job is usually the one I’m in – it’s wonderful at the time and then I move on to the next thing excited about something new.

Your West End debut was as Liesl in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s production of The Sound of Music alongside Connie Fisher; did you feel the pressure appearing in such a highly anticipated show?

 Not really – that was probably the easiest job so far! It was a gorgeous part to play but wasn’t too demanding – I loved everything about that show – and Connie was just lovely to work with.

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With Connie Fisher in The Sound of Music

You have history with the show Legally Blonde, playing Margot and understudying Elle in the West End, but what we want to know is, how did it feel playing Elle in front of your home crowd at Her Majesty’s in Aberdeen?

I had the most wonderful time! It was so nice to be in my hometown – it was timed perfectly actually because my parents moved to Edinburgh a few weeks after so it was a nice farewell – and playing that role was amazing – I really love that show and I can’t imagine a better female lead role to play!

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Amy as Margot in Legally Blonde

Tell us about working with Stiles and Drewe on Soho Cinders.

I Love George and Anthony very much – they are the kindest and most talented writers and have given me so many opportunities over the years. We originally did a charity concert version of Soho Cinders a year before for one night only and it went down a storm. So when they asked me if I’d like to do it again at the Soho Theatre I happily accepted. George and ant work so well together and they were really hands on in rehearsals working with our director Jonathan Butterell. They are so supportive and trusting of their actors, they’re beautiful people.

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Tom Milner (Robbie) and Amy Lennox (Velcro) in Soho Cinders

You have played some fantastic roles; are there any more that you have got your eye on?

 Who knows – I would die happy if I got to be in a star trek movie!

What advice would you give to any aspiring actor?

Only do it if you can’t imagine doing anything else.

If you hadn’t become an actor what do you think you would be doing now?

Good question – maybe a casting director or something like that?!

What are your plans for the rest of 2013?

Touring with 9 to 5 until end of August then who knows?! …….

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The cast of 9 to 5

Do you have any message for your fans?

Thank you for supporting me – it’s really touching to see people I recognise in watching the shows. I really appreciate it xxxxxxxxxxx

Finally, what 3 words best describe you?

Loud, bubbly and ambitious

 

INTERVIEW: Scotland’s leading young tenor Nicky Spence talks to Glasgow Theatre Blog about his stellar career

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Leading Scottish tenor Nicky Spence is an ENO Harwood Artist who trained at the Guildhall School and the National Opera Studio. Following significant success in the British Opera houses including his acclaimed portrayal in the lead role of Brian in Nico Muhly’s Two Boys at the London Coliseum in 2011, he will make his Metropolitan Opera debut in New York in the same production in 2013. Nicky is recognised as one of the UK’s finest young singers and is increasingly in demand internationally. He is an ambassador for Age UK and the Musician’s Benevolent Fund. Glasgow Theatre Blog had the chance to talk to this rising star in a rare break in his hectic schedule.

Can we go back to your beginnings, tell me a bit about your background and what inspired you to become a classical singer?

I used to sing everything from Whitney Houston and Tom Jones to The Mamas and Papas; whatever was in the record collection when I was a kid. Then someone gave me a ticket to see The Magic Flute when I was 15, a neighbour had a spare ticket, I went and a love affair began. From there, my music teacher thought that I had the potential to be more of a classical singer and said that it would be a shame to let my voice go to waste, so I had singing lessons from the age of 16. I applied for the Guildhall School in London, got in, and went to study there when I was 17.

You are currently in rehearsal for The Flying Dutchman with Scottish Opera; tell us about your role and how rehearsals are going?

The rehearsals are going really well – I am literally about to get onto the ship as it were! I’m playing the young Steersman who I suppose is the token young tenor who falls in love – he’s the voice of youth and inexperience, which I often am onstage! The Flying Dutchman is an epic piece, a tale of unrequited love and destiny and I’m looking forward to performing in it.

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What has been your favourite role to play so far in your career?

So far I’d say it was probably Lampwick in The Adventures of Pinocchio with Opera North as I got to be a twelve year old and have fun, it gave me license to be really naughty. I enjoyed Tom Rakewell in The Rake’s Progress because of the dramatic arc I had and Tamino in The Magic Flute with Scottish Opera last year.

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Opera North’s Adventures of Pinocchio

Laura Mitchell as Pamina & Nicky Spence as Tamino in Scottish Opera's The Magic Flute © Ken Dundas

Nicky Spence as Tamino with Laura Mitchell as Pamina in Scottish Opera’s The Magic Flute © Ken Dundas

Which roles do you covet?

I’d love to play Tom Rakewell again and Albert Herring. There are things I need to do before I get too old, too bald or too fat! I’d love to get those under my belt.

You’ve recently released your debut recital recording, As You Like It – Shakespeare Songs; can you tell us a bit more about how you came to choose this particular material to record?

I thought Shakespeare was a great source, like Robert Burns, Shakespeare was a bawdy bard – with twelve suicides in his plays there was plenty of room for melancholy as well, and at our fingertips was about 400 years of song settings to work with. It was a massive field to look into and hopefully I’ve chosen some interesting bits to listen to. It’s also in English, so for my first recital recording it was nice to have that immediacy with my audience.

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You’ve just completed a tour with Scottish Opera to the farthest reaches of Scotland, spreading the word about opera – how was that experience, it looked like you had a great rapport on stage.

We had such fun; it was great, just super. It was also great to see the audience reaction at such close quarters, but it was really hard work travelling to all those remote places. I also think it is really important from the point of view of bringing opera to those who wouldn’t have the chance to see it or to those who don’t know very much about it. It’s especially effective in fulfilling Scottish Opera’s aim of have opera no more than thirty miles from anyone in the country.

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What other highlights do you have coming up this year?

After The Flying Dutchman it’s back down to London to do some work with the ENO, after that I make my debut with Grange Park Opera in Dialogues des Carmélites then it’s off to New Zealand to play Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni then I’m making my debut at The Met in New York with the role of Brian in Nico Muhly’s Two Boys which I created at the ENO. I’m really looking forward to playing him again, especially as he’s so different to myself.

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Finally what composers works would you recommend to encourage people to get into opera?

Tosca is a great one, from the first chord there’s drama and it’s really accessible, La bohème is a great one, Puccini has a way of really manipulating the listener’s heart, it’s a great place to start and Marriage of Figaro is great too.

For more information about Nicky see: www.nickyspence.com

Nicky’s debut recital album As You Like It – Shakespeare Songs is available from http://www.resonusclassics.com/

Listings:

The Flying Dutchman

Steersman

Scottish Opera/Corti

4, 6, 9 April 2013 at The Theatre Royal, Glasgow

13, 16, 19 April 2013 at The Festival Theatre, Edinburgh

www.scottishopera.org.uk

Dialogues des Carmélites

Chevalier de la Force

Grange Park Opera/Barlow

11, 14, 22, 30 June 2013

6, 12 July 2013

Don Giovanni

Don Ottavio

NBR New Zealand Opera

17, 21, 23, 25, 27 August 2013

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