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10 Questions with Kieran Jae

1 Mar

Kieran Jae graduated from Doreen Bird College in 2001. Since then he has appeared in shows such as Groundhog Day (Old Vic Theatre), Gypsy (West End / Chichester Festival Theatre), Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Billy Elliot, All the Fun of the Fair, Jersey Boys, Mamma Mia, The Witches of Eastwick, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Fame (UK tour), Dick Whittington (Hull New Theatre) and Cinderella (Liverpool Empire). His Television credits include Teachers, The Four Parts of Johnny Vegas, Saturday Night Take Away, Comic Relief, Children in Need, The X-Factor and The Royal Variety Performance. He also supported Elton John in concert at the Royal Albert Hall.

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Lets start with how you got into theatre. Did you alway want to be on stage? When did you start dancing?

Well, I started performing at an early age in school plays and music concerts. I always had a passion for singing but didn’t really have any direction as I didn’t come from a musical or performing background. My mum and Nan (who I was brought up by) were hugely supportive and encouraged my passion and love for all things performing, plus I think it gave me an outlet to disburse all my excess energy as a child.

I always wanted to be on stage. I don’t know where I got the bug or how I became so addicted to performing but it is something that has been a driving force for along as I can remember.

I started dancing at the age of 12 which is when I first met my dance teacher Julie Bromage who was choreographing my first ever amateur production of 7 Brides for 7 Brothers. We were partnered together (unfortunately for her) and I attempted to polka but I spent most of the dance treading on her toes. Luckily for me she saw potential in this hyper active teenager who danced like a labrador puppy that needed taming and training.
The rest they say is history. She was and still is my first inspiration and outlet to the world of theatre that wasn’t just on the television or a dream job. She trained me intensively for 4 years and then put me on the road to professional training. Which is when I got into world-renowned performing arts college Doreen Birds. The dream was starting to seem more reachable and possible.

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Kieran in Mamma Mia

You’ve been in various shows over the years. Out of the roles you played, which ones have been your favourites and why?

My first would have to be the brother Tony in Billy Elliot. This show was more like a representation of my heritage and families history. Coming from a Geordie mining family and knowing what struggles the play spoke about and represented struck such a chord in me because I was playing out my grandfather’s and his friends’ and siblings’ life and troubles every night.
This was a show that I always wanted to be a part of and to get to play this part in particular I think has made me a better actor and ticked a huge professional goal for me.

Second would have to be performing the role of Bob Gaudio in Jersey Boys in front of the real Bob Gaudio and him coming to see me after the show and telling me ‘How proud he was of himself tonight and also how he never knew he could sing that well’. This was a real honour.

Thirdly has to be working with and alongside the phenomenal Imelda Staunton. I’m not sure I can beat that one. Working with Imelda was like a daily acting master class. She taught me so much and so gracefully and kindly helped me make the role into my own with some wonderful tips on the way. Looking across at her during a scene and seeing how immersed in the role she was and the dedication she put into every show was HUGELY inspiring and something I will never forget and carry with me through the rest of my career.

What has been your most memorable moment on stage so far (good or bad – but hopefully the good ones are more memorable than the bad ones!)?

I think every opening night is a memory that I will photograph in my mind and keep in a special place. There is a feeling of unity and achievement on opening night that all the work you have all put in together over the rehearsal period has paid off and gets to be appreciated by an audience.

If I was to pin point a few I think definitely my opening night in my first job and West End debut Witches of Eastwick. Not only did it have an amazing theatrical end to the opening, it gave you a moment to look out front and stand still to the applause and I will never forget taking that in and thinking ‘It’s not a dream anymore’.

I think opening Gypsy in Chichester and watching Imelda do ‘Rose’s turn’ in front of an audience for the first time and seeing the audience’s reaction will be something I never forget, and feeling an overwhelming sense of pride and emotion on that first ever curtain call.

Lastly I think again my first time playing Tony in front of my Nan (who I sadly lost last year) was a night I will never forget as my granddad died when I was young so he never got to see me standing up their and representing him. But my Nan did and she said ‘it was one of the proudest moments of her life’ and I will NEVER forget her face smiling up at me with tears in her eyes on my bow.

A funny moment on stage was when I was in Jersey Boys playing Bob Gaudio I once slipped up on a line and instead of saying ‘The day after we were on American bandstand’ I said ‘The day after we were on American …. IDOL’. Oops!! The other 3 boys were facing upstage and all I could hear was them giggling at me. My heart jumped into my throat and it felt like hours had passed in the space on seconds. Forgetting your lines or fluffing them is always  so disconcerting but looking back on it, it was funny.

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Kieran as Bob Gaudio in Jersey Boys

Are there any dream roles you would love to play?

Yes lots of roles I would still love to play but a couple in particular. As a student I remember seeing an actor called Simon Grieff who also trained at my performing arts college Doreen Birds. He was playing Bobby C in Saturday Night Fever at the London Palladium and I remember thinking I HAVE to play this role. He sang the song  Tragedy which was then given to me as a solo in my end of year show in my 2nd year and I remember thinking that could be me. I saw it 10 times!!

Another role is Chris in Miss Saigon. It is such a strong male role and the show is such a piece of musical theatre history that to be part of its legacy at some point would be great.

Something else that I would love to be part of at some point in my career is the television prigramme Coronation Street. I have been a fan of this Northern soap since I was a kid. Back then it was a bit of a ritual to sit down at 7.30 to tune in. So to be part of something that is part of so many people’s lives would be great, especially as a Northerner.

Is there anyone you would love to work with at some point?

I would love the opportunity to work with Imelda again. I learnt so much from her work ethic and her pure class act both on and off stage.

Tim Minchin is someone else I would love to work with again. I have the privilege of now calling him a friend and someone I respect both professionally and personally and he is someone who has shown me so much support. He is a genius.

As a choreographer I would love to work with Susan Stroman. I’m a real admirer of her work especially her 1998 production of Oklahoma at the National Theatre. It’s just a masterpiece, so true to the original, yet so original.

Lastly I would love to work with British Director Jamie Lloyd one day. He is such a clever and innovative director with a great vision.

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Kieran as Tony in Billy Elliot

 

Do you go to the theatre in your spare time? If so, what shows have you seen lately? Any recommendations?

Of course, watching theatre is one of my favourite things to do in any spare time when I get some.  Whether it be socially with friends or to just be inspired for work. It’s what I love. I’ve always loved being in a theatre. Seeing things live is so exciting.

Things that inspired me: Definitely Denise Gough in People, Places and Things is up there for recent inspiring performances. She was incredible.

Amber Riley in Dreamgirls is like a vocal master class. I LOVED the show. The cast were so strong but in particular her performance was SO powerful.

Things I want  to see: Ruth Wilson in Hedda Gabler and Angels in America at the National Theatre. Then, of course, Imelda in Who’s afraid of Virginia Woolf. I love the play anyway but I can’t wait to see what she does with the role. And lastly Stepping Out. I grew up with the film and have always wanted to see the stage production.

You were in the London cast of Groundhog Day at the Old Vic Theatre recently which is opening on Broadway soon. What was it like to be part of the show? Do you think it will do well with the Broadway audience?

This show was possibly one of the hardest to rehearse and to piece together just because of the complexity of it. Trying to bring all factors together, to make essentially the same day repeat on stage lots of times but with slight changes each day, this was a mine field. Equally it was one of the most rewarding. It is a masterpiece of new innovative theatre. Something fresh and modern with beautiful songs and very clever set design and magic tricks up its sleeves. Tim Minchin, Peter Darling and Matthew Warchus did an incredible job and I have no doubt it is going to be a huge hit on Broadway. The piece is very American, it has American values, it celebrates normal American people, so people relate to the characters. They know and love the film and Andy Karl who is playing the Bill Murray role Phil did a phenomenal job here, and I have no doubt he will do an even better job over there. So in answer to your question, yes I think it will be a hit on Broadway.

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Kieran (right) in Groundhog Day

Talking about Broadway, do you think New York holds more opportunities for performers than London these days?

I don’t think it holds more or less opportunities. I think both places are special and give different opportunities. I do love how Americans are so fearless though. They have such belief in their abilities whereas here we are a little more reserved in that respect. I also like that Americans don’t pigeonhole actors whereas I think a lot of the time here we are put into boxes. If you do musical theatre it’s harder to move into straight theatre or television. Over there if you can act, you can act in what ever form or genre. Equally though I love the heritage we have here, I love the calibre of work we have here and our British sense of pride in our work and craft. I think New York and London are both such special places for an actor. It is true what they say it really is where dreams are made.

What are your plans for 2017 so far? Anything you can share? Can we catch you on stage again sometime soon maybe?

Last year was quite life changing for me personally losing someone so close to me but I think it has taught me to make braver decisions about my life, to not let life pass me by and to live every day to the most. So this year so far is turning out to be new and exciting for me and I’m excited about what the rest of the year holds. For once I haven’t committed to a long running contract with a show and it has given me other incredible opportunities. I have just finished recording vocals for the new Mary Poppins movie, under the creative genius of Marc Shaiman and Scott Whitman, and then recorded some vocals for Adele’s new Australian tour which was also very exciting. I continue to teach my students which I truly love. I love inspiring students who are training to work in this amazing industry. Passing on the knowledge and tools I have learnt in my own career on to the next generation of performers is something I feel incredibly passionate about.

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Last not least lets look into the future: Where do you see yourself in ten years? 

I see myself hopefully married with someone wonderful to share my life with. I would like to try and live in another country to explore what another country has to offer. I would like to see a lot more of the world. I would like to hope and think I will still be acting, and honing my craft and I would like to still be teaching and inspiring students at the same time.

I feel very lucky in what I have achieved in my life and career so far and if I can spend the next 10 years similar to the last 10, I will be a very happy man.

Thank you Kieran for taking the time for this interview. Here’s to a successful and inspiring 2017.

10 Questions with Eugene McCoy

12 Sep

Eugene McCoy trained at ArtsEd. He has appeared in shows like Mamma Mia, American Psycho, The Pajama Game, Guys and Dolls, Oklahoma, They’re Playing Our Song and Little Shop of Horrors. Eugene played the part of Nick Massi in the West End production of Jersey Boys from 2010 to 2013. At the moment you can catch him at the Old Vic Theatre in the world premiere of Groundhog Day.

Eugene kindly took some time out of his busy schedule to talk about his musical theatre journey so far, Groundhog Day, annoying audience behaviour and what the future might hold.

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How did you get into musical theatre and did you always want to be a performer?
I started performing when I was three years old – not professionally, of course. I left drama school when I was 21 so that’s when I started professionally. But I started singing, dancing and acting when I was 3. I danced until I was 12, four times a week, did lots of competitions and festivals but then I got really bad knees and had to stop. So I did more acting and singing from then on. I went to drama school when I was 18 for three years. I honestly don’t remember a time when I didn’t want to perform. I always said as a kid: “I’m going to be on the stage or on tv – this is what I want to do.”

What has been your favourite performing job so far and why?
I don’t have a single favourite one. Jersey Boys was amazing because it was my first big lead (role). The prestige of wearing that red jacket was so huge and I came in at the big first cast change for the Seasons. And I got to rehearse in New York, learn the show out there and then we came back and we were constantly doing PR, tv gigs, press and exciting events outside of work. The theatre was the best theatre and it was an amazing character to play and the audiences were crazy (in a good way). That was brilliant. But equally I loved The Pajama Game in Chichester in the small Minerva Theatre: I was very free on stage performing a character as extravagant as he was and got to sing, dance and act more than I’d done for a while. And then American Psycho at the Almeida was amazing. That show felt incredibly unique. So I have to say those three are the ones I remember most really.

How does it feel to be a part of Groundhog Day, working with people like Tim Minchin, Matthew Warchus and Peter Darling?
It feels so great to be part of Groundhog Day. I first auditioned last August and it was for the workshop. We did this big workshop in October and November last year for four weeks. So I auditioned for that originally with a view to doing the show. It was a case of if you did well in the workshop and they liked you then you got to do the show. I remember hearing about the project and I told my agent “I want to be in that show.” And when I knew I was going to be in it all just felt great and I was so excited. The prospect of working with this team was incredible – and in that theatre – it was a no brainer! It’s proved to be brilliant. It’s a hard show but it’s worth it. The team is lovely and they are making groundbreaking new theatre and not “just” old revivals. That’s what so exciting. It’s new theatre that will last.

Do you think people watch the show with very specific expectations (having seen the film)? How is the show different from the film?
I’ve never seen the film! Ha! But yes, people have expectations and most people I know who have seen the show and the movie actually say they prefer the show. Interesting! I will be watching the film in a week’s time (when the show is done).

What’s it like working with Andy Karl?
Horrendous! He stinks, he never washes…. No, joking! He is lovely, a very nice man, very hard working and brilliantly talented. I think he is going to become quite famous. And I think he is going to win every award for this show and he deserves to.

You’ve been in various shows over the past years. If you had to choose one show to go back into which one would it be?
I would like to do lots of my shows for maybe a week and no more. I’d love to do Mamma Mia for a week because I did it when I was much younger and it was really fun. I’d love to go and do Guys and Dolls again because the Donmar production at the Piccadilly Theatre was so special. It was a brilliant production and I’d like to go back and do that now that I’m a bit older. And I’d like to go back and do the big three and “Who loves you” at Jersey Boys because I never got bored of those. They were amazing to do every night.

Do you have a dream role or a show you would love to be in someday?
I’m not sure I do. It’s difficult for me being a bass singer. There are not many roles for me especially in new musicals so I’m often limited in what I can do in that sense. I always wanted to play Bert in Mary Poppins but I wouldn’t be able to dance it because my knees would concave and I would never be able to walk again. I would maybe like to be Miss Trunchbull in Matilda. I saw Jesus Christ Superstar recently and I’d like to sing Caiaphas because it’s a really low bass but it’s not a very exciting part to play if I’m honest. And I always wanted to be in The Producers because it’s amongst my favourite shows. In fact, I’d like to play any of the knights in the original big West End production of Spamalot as well. And playing Geoffrey in Stepping Out would be great.

What are the last musicals and/or plays you watched and which ones are on your “to see” list at the moment?
I’ve not seen anything because Groundhog Day has basically taken over my life for five months (apart from Jesus Christ Superstar as mentioned above!). The last thing I saw was People, Places and Things with Denise Gough which was the most amazing performance I’ve seen for so long and she was just outrageous and incredible. And that inspired me and had me buzzing for days and weeks. I want to go and see Yerma with Billie Pieper but I won’t get the chance unfortunately. She’s supposed to be incredible. And I’d like to see Funny Girl but I’m not sure I will get round to. I’d also liked to have seen Deep Blue Sea at the National with Helen McCrory because I think she’s brilliant. What else? I want to see Hamilton.

What are your top three pet peeves when it comes to (bad) audience behaviour?
I guess one is people who don’t throw flowers at me at the end because everyone really should…. Haha.
People who have their phones on and you can see the light when you’re looking out into the audience. That is really, really annoying. In a way, latecomers: If you are doing a scene and it’s really quiet and latecomers come in it’s really frustrating. And when I’m in the audience and people are eating sweets (those with the noisy wrappers). That drives me insane.

Why should people go and see Groundhog Day?
Because I don’t think you will see a better new musical for quite a while. And that might sound biased but I think it’s the best new musical for a long time. And it’s inspiring and it’s funny, it will make you cry, it will make you laugh and it’s clever. It’s really, really, really clever and witty. And the ensemble are the hardest working ensemble – I keep saying this but we really do work so hard. And if you want to see people sweat and you want to see me tap dancing in winter boots, a parka jacket and a woolly hat with a big smile – come and see Groundhog Day!

Groundhog Day is playing at the Old Vic Theatre until 19th September. Public booking for the last performance on 19th September opens this Thursday.
http://www.oldvictheatre.com/whats-on/2016/groundhog-day/

Follow Eugene on Twitter @McCoyEugene  .

10 Questions with Joe Aaron Reid

25 Feb

Joe Aaron Reid is currently making his London theatre debut starring as Benny in In The Heights at King’s Cross Theatre. His theatre credits include If/Then (Scott/ Stephen opposite Idina Menzel, Broadway); Ghost – the Musical (Broadway); Catch Me if You Can (Broadway); Finian’s Rainbow (Broadway); Chicago (Fred Casely, Broadway) and Curtains (Ronnie Driscoll, Broadway); Once on This Island (Daniel, Lucille Lortel); The Tin Pan Alley Rag (Roundabout/Laura Pels); Finian’s Rainbow (Encores); Why We Tell the Story (Lucille Lortel); Kismet (Encores); Lines (Joe, TBG); On the Town (Gabey, 5th Avenue Theatre); A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (Gymnasia, Williamstown Theatre Festival); Ragtime (Paper Mill Playhouse); Cats (Munkustrap, Northern Stage); Camelot (North Shore Music Theatre, Boston); Beauty and the Beast (Les Places des Arts, Montreal, and Lyric, Baltimore); If/Then (National, Washington DC); Curtains (Ahmanson); Guys and Dolls (MIMF, Macau, China) and Kiss Me, Kate (Paul, Commonwealth Shakespeare Company).

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Joe kindly took some time out of his busy schedule to talk about moving across the pond, living in London, being part of In The Heights and what the future might hold.

You moved to London in March after living and working in New York for years. What made you take such a huge step and is London starting to feel like home now?
I moved to London at the end of March, after closing If/Then on Broadway. We actually moved because of my husband’s job. He works in finance, where it’s actually quite common to move overseas. He is French, so for him it was coming home in a way. I agreed to move because I was living in NYC for 10 years, and although acting is a huge part of my life, adventure is a bigger part. I figured I could do what I love here, and be on a great adventure with my family at the same time. We’ll be back at some point, but for now, I’m happy. We’ve now been here for almost a year, and I enjoy it, but it takes time to feel like you’re at home. I’ll get there soon, I’m sure.

Can you name three things you love about London and three things you dislike?
Three things I love:
1. They are big on Haloumi. I had never heard of it until I moved here. It’s DELICIOUS.
2. The tube is super clean, and there seem to be trains about every 2-3minutes.
3. The architecture. The mixture of such historical buildings with modern skyscrapers is really cool. I love to walk along the Thames and see the juxtaposition between buildings like Big Ben and Parliament vs. the London Eye, and the Shard.

Three things I dislike:
1. The city is very spread out, so it takes quite a long time to get places. That being said, you feel like you are breathing fresh air, most of the time.
2. This is a gross generalization, but…customer service is different over here. I’ve said this before, but in the US, “the customer is always right”. Here, they treat you as if they are doing you a favor, even though you are paying for a service.
3. London is more expensive than NYC. Not. Cool.

Have you had the chance to check out the London theatre scene?
I have been able to see some things. I was able to see Gypsy, in which Imelda Staunton SLAYED! I saw The Curious Incident… and absolutely loved it. Some amazing performances in Miss Saigon!! I’ve seen a couple of other things, as well. Some new and smaller things, and some old staples.

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In The Heights

 

In The Heights marks your first appearance on a London stage. I’ve seen the show several times and the one thing that always gets me is the energy on stage. Everyone seems to put their heart and soul into this production. What’s it like to be a part of In The Heights and are you happy to make your London stage debut in this Show?
YES and YES! The show is so vibrant, and everyone gives it everything they have. What’s funny, is that I wasn’t supposed to be doing In The Heights. I was slated to do Stardust Road at the St. James, but it unfortunately was cancelled. It just so happened that they were in final callbacks for In The Heights, and they agreed to see me. I feel like everything happens for a reason, and I was meant to be doing this show at this point in my life.

This is a question I’ve been asking myself over and over again: Where did Victoria Hamilton-Barritt get her energy from (performing 7 months pregnant)?
I have no clue!!! It’s mindboggling!! I just met her through this process, and so I have only known her pregnant. I can only imagine her force when she’s just eating for one. 🙂

What is your favourite song or scene in the show and why?
Oooooh, That’s a tough one. I like different songs/scenes for different reasons. So, I’ll give you a few that I love. I love the scene into “Benny’s Dispatch”. So much of my show is dramatic, so I enjoy starting off the show being goofy and playful. I love singing “When You’re Home”. Hearing Lily sing “Breathe”. If I stand in the right position backstage, I can see “Carnival” and I love watching everyone throwdown for that one. It’s such a powerful moment. The list goes on…

I saw In the Heights on Broadway in 2009 and while I liked it I didn’t love it as much as this production. I feel it works better in a smaller space where the audience has the chance to really connect with the characters and story. Do you enjoy performing in such an intimate venue?
I do enjoy it. Most of my past experiences have been in large houses on Broadway, with the traditional proscenium. This traverse stage and smaller house allows you to play more with nuance, because the audience is so close. Now that we’ve been running a while, I’m finding myself discovering new things almost weekly, about the sound, the sightlines, and Benny in general. I imagine playing Benny would be very different on a proscenium. Also, the audience is basically in your lap…or maybe it’s the other way around. When you have a supercharged audience, the energy is truly palpable. You don’t get that in a traditional venue in quite the same way.

Looking into the future: If you could join any West End production in 2016 which one would it be and why?
Well, I find it a little more gratifying when I am originating something. Five of my six Broadway shows were original casts, and there is a bit more creativity and artistic freedom when originating, versus the “move here and speak here” scenario. NOT poo pooing replacements, though!!! That comes with it’s own set of challenges, like HOW to be creatively fulfilled, while staying within the realm of what is currently happening eight shows a week. I will say, I’m sad to see Miss Saigon go. I really wanted a chance to play John. I wouldn’t mind a Fiyero in Wicked situation. Fingers crossed it’ll be something new though. We shall see. 🙂

Do you have the ultimate dream role you would love to play at some point in your career?
YES…well of course the obvious answer is it hasn’t been written yet, because IDEALLY, like I stated in the question before, the goal is to originate something, BUT in terms of roles that are already out there…Coalhouse Walker, Jr. in Ragtime. I had the chance to understudy the role at Paper Mill Playhouse, right out of college, but I’ve never actually had the chance to play it. Being a bit older now, and more right for it agewise, I’ve definitely got my eyes peeled for a production of it.

Final question: Why should people come and see In the Heights?
I think people should come see In The Heights because it has something for everyone. I know a lot of people say “rap isn’t my thing”, but as someone who raps in the show and then has multiple ballads, this show is SO MUCH MORE than rap. Traditional musical theatre lovers still get their West Side Story, while people who like contemporary music and musical theatre get more than their fill. If you like dance, it is jampacked with many different styles. If you like sweeping ballads, there are quite a few. If you are young, there are characters you can relate to. If you are older, there are characters you can relate to. The story is relatable, no matter what your background. You laugh, you cry, you party and at the end of the night you feel joy. NOT the cheesy joy, but the heart open, toothy smile joy. If you are human, you will enjoy it.

Follow Joe on Twitter @joeaaronreid and find him on Facebook to get in touch and find out first about the latest news.

10 Questions with Tomas Wolstenholme

6 Oct

Tomas Wolstenholme trained on the Actor Musicianship program at Rose Bruford College. His credits whilst Training include Into the Woods, The Crucible, The Fall of the House of Usher (Musical Director), ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore and Swindlestock – A new Musical (Composer, MD). Tomas is making his professional debut in Once covering the parts of Emcee and Eamon.
Just after finishing his first full week performing in the show Tomas kindly took some time out of his busy schedule to answer some questions.

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For anyone who doesn’t know you: Can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you “ended up” in the world of theatre?
Hello! So, I’m 21 and like lots of other people my age I grew up doing amateur and fringe theatre as well as having music lessons through my teenage years. All this led to me making the decision to train as an actor at drama school – I started the Actor Musicianship course at Rose Bruford College in September of 2011 and graduated this summer. During my time at college I co-wrote and produced an Actor-Musician musical called, ‘Swindlestock’. Other interesting facts about me are that I speak Spanish fluently and can solve a Rubik’s cube in a minute (or there abouts). Also, my favourite food is peanut butter.

You are making your professional debut in Once. How does it feel to perform in London’s West End?
It’s still sinking in! Even after 8 shows this week I find myself constantly remembering where I am and how fortunate I am that I was given the chance at one of my dream jobs so early on in my career. I had so much support from the cast as well as my family and close friends, but that first show was terrifying! In one of the scene changes a guitar got knocked over, putting it completely out of tune – of course no one knew that until it got played (very loudly!) As you’d expect this sort of thing does happen in the show – but it’s rare. All the same, they have emergency guitar cover protocols in place and in that moment I remembered that this one was mine! As I started to play they turned down the other guitar and put mine up. It was dead exciting, I felt like doing a victory lap but I think I might have got told off.

Once requires its cast to not just sing and act but to play instruments as well. Do you enjoy this extra challenge? Which instruments do you play?
My first study is classical guitar – I also play piano, tuba, bass guitar, double bass, accordion, mandolin, and a bit of banjo. As with those smaller plucked instruments – if it’s got strings and a fret board – I’ll have a go! I don’t have a ukulele – but they’re a lot of fun. I think I want to try cello next… but we’ll see. It’s finding the time to practice all of them!

How can we picture rehearsals for a show like ‘Once?’ Do you learn to play the songs first then rehearse them with the rest of the cast scene by scene?
I rehearsed for 3 weeks before my first show. At the start it was just me and the resident director learning the ‘track’ (which is the outline for the whole show) for Emcee. Then I had separate ‘one on one’ sessions for movement and music. At the end of week one I did my first bit of rehearsals with the cast. I watched the show a few times that week and I also had the Friday off to go to my graduation ceremony at college, which was lovely! Weeks two and three were similar except they started to get members of the cast in to fill things out. On the Friday of week 3 I did my dress rehearsal with the full cast.

Once has a so-called ‘pre-show’ in which the cast perform a couple of songs while the audience is welcome to join them on stage and have a drink at the on stage bar. What do you think of this?
I LOVE the pre-show! It really sets the show apart from other ones in town, plus if you buy a drink you get a cool ‘Once’ cup! I have 3 in my house now. The only down side to it as a new cast member is that the rest of the company know about 25 numbers already, which meant that just when I thought I’d learnt the whole show I got handed another huge folder of music to memorize…

Unlike other West End shows Once doesn’t have big costume and set changes – it’s all about the story being told through music and words. Do you think this makes it harder for a show like Once to survive in the West End? What do you think of this way of story-telling?
I’m a big fan of storytelling using minimalistic set and props. When I first saw Once I never questioned where we were. Whether we were outside, in the pub, studio – within the context of the play or musical it’s so important to keep coming back to that music. For me it’s a guide, much like how Shakespeare uses rhythm and the pentameter to suggest how the character is feeling. I can’t speak for the people who created this show, but it seems to me that the whole idea of Once is centered around it. The choreography, the scene changes, the set, and the story itself. I think it’s harder to survive because the majority of people don’t know much about what to expect from a show like this until they get there.

What’s your favourite song in the show and why?
‘Gold’, I could sit with Jack (Beale) or David (Hunter) and happily sing it for hours. I love it because it is beautiful and simple. Once does that really well in the score and often the guitar parts aren’t insanely difficult but very precise in the larger scheme of things. In ‘Gold’ we’re all putting in our bit into the song and together the sound is so full and rich.

You are covering Emcee and Eamon in the show. Is there any other part you would like to have a go at?         
I want to have a go at Guy! It’s my absolute dream role at the moment and I’d love to one day have a crack at understudying him or maybe getting to do the real thing. For now though, I’m more than happy exactly where I am.

Ronan Keating is joining Once as Guy in November. Are you looking forward to having him in the show?
It’s gonna be crazy good, I think he’s going to nail it. Can’t wait to meet him and get to know him over the next 4 months.

Last question: Why should people go and see Once?
Once brings something unique to the table right from the offset, It’s an entertaining and beautiful evening like no other. The script is funny, charming and tragic, so come on down and lose yourself in the music.

Thank you Tomas!

Make sure to follow Tomas on Twitter @TDWolstenholme .

Book your tickets for Once here.

10 Questions with Robbie White

11 Mar

Robbie White trained at the Cardwell Theatre School and at Laine Theatre Arts college in Epsom. Since graduating he has been working around the world: Dreamworks – How to Train Your Dragon (Arena Spectacular World Tour), Chess (Princess of Wales Theatre, Toronto), We Will Rock You (Original Stuttgart Cast), One Man’s Dreams (Disney Tokyo) and Flashdance (Original West End Cast). He reached the final of BBC1’s So You Think You Can Dance? but was unable to compete in the final show due to injury and therefore finished in 4th place.
Currently Robbie can be seen in Once at the Phoenix Theatre, London.

robbiewhite

What’s it like to be a part of Once in the West End?
It has been, and I hope will continue to be, an amazing experience. It’s a beautiful show to watch and I think an even more beautiful to be a part of. It treads a wonderful line between the realistic and the fantastic and combines humour with honesty in a way that is both enjoyable to watch and challenging to perform. Long story short, I love it!

You are covering different roles in the show. What is your favourite role to play and why?
My favourite role to cover is probably Svec, the drummer. He’s one of the most off the wall characters in the piece, with some great lines, funny moments and plenty of challenging music to play. I love all four of my cover roles for different reasons but Svec is the one I’m usually most excited about. I think because that character gives me the most freedom and choice in performance.

Which instruments do you play? Did you take lessons or did you teach yourself?
In the show I’m required to play piano, guitar, bass guitar, ukulele, mandolin, banjo, melodica, harmonica, and drums/cajon. I also play a little bit of cello, although not as well as I’d like to. I taught myself to play, starting with the piano, but in truth a lot of the instruments listed above are similar enough for the basic technique to stretch across a few, for example the piano technique crosses over to the melodica and the guitar technique is similar to that of the mandolin banjo and ukulele.

In 2010 you reached the final of BBC’s So you think you can dance. Do you miss dancing on stage now that you are in Once? Can you see yourself doing a show that focuses on dancing again someday?
I do miss dancing. I hope to be putting it back into practice in a video soon, and I still try to stay in shape. In truth my favourite thing about dancing was always performing my own choreography because I can tailor it to hide my technical flaws, so as much as I miss dancing I couldn’t imagine leaving Once to be a part of a dance ensemble. However if something exciting were to come up in the future I would jump at it!

Beside performing in Once you also write your own music. Tell me a bit about your latest song “Save what can be found” (which I think is fantastic by the way).
Thank you. “Save what can be found” is the first track I’ve ever released on my own and it was a real labour of love. I love songwriting, both for myself and for others, and I love performing my own music. I’ve decided to try to find interesting ways of playing my songs from now on, so for “Save what can be found” I play the drum part with my feet, which took a long time to figure out and nail down, but I love the idea of not only the music being interesting, but also the method of producing the music.

Can we expect more original songs from you soon? Maybe even an album?
You can expect lots more songs from me, and hopefully someday an album! I’d love to get my music out there but it seems to take me a long time to get anything I’m happy with!

You’ve just signed up for another year in Once. However, are there other shows you’d like to be part of in the future? What would be your dream role to play?
My dream role would be Mark in rent. I’ve loved the show ever since I saw it the first time when I was 8 and it’s been my dream role ever since. Either that or Galileo, based solely on my love of Queens music!

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
That’s a tricky one to answer as I never really have had a long-term plan but at the moment I would love to be writing, releasing and performing music for a living in ten years.

Is there anyone (performer, director, songwriter…) you’d love to work with at some point in your life?
I’m certain there are thousands I’d jump at the opportunity to work with, I love collaborating more than anything purely for the fact that there is always something new you can learn/steal. 🙂 I’d love to have a song writing session with Ingrid Michaelson though. I’ve loved every single song she’s ever released and I think we could make something great.

Last question: Why should people come and see Once?
I think purely because it’s a beautiful piece of theatre, touching story, wonderful music, talented cast. It’s got everything you could want from a musical (minus a big showy dance number) and it’s a really honest method of story telling. You can really lose yourself in it, and that’s what the theatre is all about.

Thank you Robbie for taking time out of your busy schedule for this interview.

Follow Robbie on Twitter @robbiewhite, check him out on Youtube and make sure you watch and listen to “Save what can be found”.

And don’t forget to book your tickets for Once.

10 Questions with Jill Winternitz

12 Dec
Jill Winternitz moved all the way to London to train at RADA. Her theatre credits include Ophelia in Hamlet and the Prioress in The Canterbury Tales (Queen Mary II), Wounded (Los Angeles Theatre Ensemble), Nina in The Seagull (MXAT) and Sunday in the Park with George (Interlochen Center for the Arts). Whilst training she appeared in The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, Three Sisters, Julius Caesar and Oleanna. Her film credits include Alice in The Sorrows and Lauren in The Replacement Child.

jill_headshot

You are an American in London – how did that happen? Did you always want to study in the UK rather than in the USA?
I had always dreamed of training at RADA, but never thought there was much chance of getting in as an American.  There were four rounds of auditions, with the final being in London.  You have to take chances in life and go for the things you most want.  This one paid off and I remember getting a call from Nicholas Barter, the principal of RADA at the time, offering me a place about 15 minutes before I was about to watch ‘Hay Fever’ in the West End starring Dame Judi Dench.  I started crying with joy and thought, wow, I hope I can be doing what she’s doing at her age.  It was quite a moment for me.

Imagine someone had told you five years ago you would be making your West End debut playing Baby in Dirty Dancing – what would you have said?
There is no way I would have believed them!  I presumed most of my work in the UK would be in classical theatre because of my training.  I also never thought I could learn to dance to the level required of my role in Dirty Dancing.  It’s been such a dream job for me and one that’s really allowed me to grow as an actress.

It must be nice to be home in London again after touring the UK with Dirty Dancing. Do you enjoy touring in general? What are the good / bad things about being on tour?
It is SO nice to be home.  I really missed my other half (filmmaker Mike Doxford) when I was away.  I moved to London when I was 19 and have really grown up in this city, so I missed it a lot too.  The great thing for me about touring though was seeing the UK.  There are some gorgeous places, and such rich history.  It was a real education and an experience I am so grateful for.

Would you like to do more musical theatre in the future? Any dream roles you’d like to play in musical theatre?
I love musical theatre!  It was the first kind of theatre I ever saw as a kid, and I became quite obsessive about shows as teenager such as Rent, Wicked, and The Last Five Years.  As far as shows I’d love to be involved with, there are many:  Once is such a gorgeous show, pretty much any Sondheim musical, I also love the work they do with musical theatre at the Donmar Warehouse.

Do you enjoy going to the theatre in your free time? If so, what shows/plays have you seen lately? Any recommendations?
Going to theatre is one of my main hobbies actually.  Call me crazy, but on a night off you will often find me seeing a show.  Recently I have seen and loved ‘Let the Right One In’ at the Royal Court, ‘The Light Princess’ at the National Theatre, and ‘The Bodyguard’ where Beverley Knight smashes it with the most incredible vocals!

Is there a theatre you would love to work in at some point in the future? Personally I think The National must be a dream workplace for any actor.
You guessed it!  I would love to work at The National.  Also on the list is the Royal Court, The Almeida, Menier Chocolate Factory, and Shakespeare’s Globe.

When you’re not doing anything theatre related, how do you like to spend your free time?
I’m really into yoga.  That’s my favourite way to unwind and feel centred.  This industry can be such a roller coaster of emotions and I find yoga to be very balancing.

I believe you are a bit of a Christmas fan. What is the special thing about Christmas for you?
Yes, I absolutely love Christmas time!  For me it’s always been about family and spreading joy.  It has great memories for me and each year I love making new ones too.  I also love the things that go along with Christmas – magical lights, German Christmas markets, ice skating, mulled wine, the smell of cinnamon, a log fire, Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker!

With Dirty Dancing finishing its London run at the end of February, what are your plans for 2014?
When DD closes, I plan to fly straight to LA to do the tail end of pilot season (the time of year where TV networks are casting all their new pilots).  It will be great to see my family and get some sunshine as well.  I’d love to move into TV and Film alongside my work in theatre.

Finally, why should people go and watch Dirty Dancing at the Piccadilly Theatre?
Dirty Dancing is such an iconic and loved story, and at the Piccadilly we really invite you into the world of Kellerman’s, so you feel like you were also there in that summer of 1963. Come along if you want to enjoy some great tunes, a cracking romance, and leave the theatre in a better mood than when you arrived!

Thank you Jill for taking time out of your busy schedule for this interview!

Follow Jill on Twitter @JillWinternitz

Book your tickets for Dirty Dancing here.

10 Questions with James Winter

30 Nov

James studied at Guildford School of Acting. He made his West End debut in the hit Musical Jersey Boys playing Hank Majewski and covering the part of Bob Gaudio. Other theatre credits include Les Miserables (Queen’s Theatre, London), Lucky Stiff (Landor Theatre, London), The Full Monty (Key Theatre, Peterborough) and The Last Maharajah Workshop (Wyndham’s Theatre, London). James has recently finished touring the UK with Carnaby Street the musical.

jamesheadshot

Did you always want to be on stage or did you have other dream jobs as a kid?
I always wanted to be a pilot as a kid. I was always involved in theatre (Am Dram and youth theatre) but it was more of a hobby. I wanted to join the RAF as a fighter pilot! I went for a scholarship selection at RAF Cranwell at the age of 16 but there was a mix-up with the type of scholarship I was up for and they had no more places for pilots. So I planned on re-applying when I was 18, but then started helping a friend, Griffin Stephens, with his application to drama schools and thought “Why don’t I give this a go?!”, and then got in to GSA!

What was the first role you ever played and how old were you?
My first role outside of school plays was the role of Tommy in Blitz! the musical when I was about 9 or 10. It was a local Am Dram production and my mum was the choreographer. My brother Jason and I got our first tastes of the stage there, and then joined the Key Youth Theatre at the Key Theatre, Peterborough.

You just finished touring the UK with Carnaby Street the musical. Do you enjoy touring?
Carnaby Street was my first experience of touring and I have to say I loved it! It was only a 3 month tour, so there wasn’t really time to get frustrated with it. Obviously it is hard being away from home and loved ones, but it’s kind of a mini adventure and refreshing after being in London for 4 years.

You’ve been in several shows over the past years. What has been your favourite job so far and why?
My favourite job will always be Jersey Boys. It was my first largescale job out of college, my West End debut, and I got to cover and play Bob Gaudio a lot over the 2 years I was in the show. It was such a fun building to work in that I actually went back after I left the show to work backstage for a few months between acting jobs.

Would you ever consider returning to a show you’ve already been in or do you rather go for new shows and new challenges?
I’d certainly consider going back to any of the shows I’ve been in, but you’re always looking to progress your career and as yet I’ve never been a lead or a feature, so if I was to go back I’d always be looking for some sort of improvement if it was at all possible.

What are your dream roles?
This is a tough one, as there are so many. I always wanted to play Marius but I’m too old for that now! I’d love to play Javert, I just think there’s so much depth to that character. Princeton/Rod in Avenue Q would be a lot of fun, and Raoul in Phantom. So just a few!

This year you have been in one of the most popular musicals of all time (Les Miserable, obviously) and in a new musical set in 1960s London (Carnaby Street). What’s next for you then? Any plans for 2014 you can share?
At the moment there’s nothing lined up for 2014 unfortunately. There were a couple of things in the pipeline that didn’t work out but part of the job is being patient and waiting for the next opportunity to show itself, so watch this space!

Where do you see yourself in 10 years time?
I’d love to say that I see myself still performing, and preferably in a lead role in the West End! I’ve always wanted to move into TV/Film but that’s increasingly more and more difficult for Musical Theatre performers to do.

How do you spend your free time? Do you go to the theatre sometimes or do you rather do something completely different?
I go to the theatre when I can but it’s usually to see friends in their shows. The problem is that when you’re in a show you have very little time to go to the theatre and when you’re between acting jobs you can’t afford it! I’m a big motorsport fan, so I like to watch the F1 and I regularly go karting with friends. I’m also a bit of a computer game geek, so the Xbox gets a lot of use! And I play guitar and bass.

Last question and this is an all time favourite: If there was a movie about your life, who should play you? Obviously it can’t be yourself!
Tough question! And I saw that Jason said he’d pick me! Cheers bro! One of my favourite actors at the moment is Andrew Garfield, so I’d pick him!

Thank you James for taking the time to do this interview!

You can follow James on Twitter @jamesnwinter

10 Questions with Ben Jennings

29 Jun

Ben Jennings is currently playing Joey Pesci in the smash hit Jersey Boys. He is covering the lead role of Frankie Valli and has been playing the part to rave reviews on numerous occasions. Before joining the cast of Jersey Boys he appeared in Mamma Mia at the Prince of Wales Theatre. His other theatre credits include Kipper in Oliver (London Palladium), Gavroche in Les Miserables (Palace Theatre), Hair (European Tour), Beauty and the Beast (Germany) and Aladdin (Worthing) to name just a few.

Ben trained with a scholarship to the Urdang Academy of Ballet and Performing Arts. During his training he appeared in various dance videos and commercials.

Ben Jennings

What was the first role you ever played and how old were you?
The first role I ever played was actually my first professional job. I was 9 years old and had literally had one singing lesson. That same week the singing teacher asked me whether I would like to join an audition at the Royal Opera House in London. I went along and got the part of a boy cupid in an opera called “Arianna” which is an old greek myth story.

Who was your inspiration when you were younger?
My main inspiration from a young age has to be Michael Jackson. My mum brought me “Thriller” when I was 3 years old as it was released as its own separate video being a short 15 mins long. Singing wise I was brought up on 60’s rock’n’roll music so I’ve always listened to artists such as the Everly Brothers, Roy Orbison, Eddie Cochrane etc.

Out of all parts you’ve played so far which one has been your favourite and why?
From all the parts I have played so far the part I cover at present has to be my favourite. Frankie Valli is such a diverse and challenging role for me that there is always something new to explore. So much back story and detail to get across to the audience not to mention every hit song that you want to give justice to, never a dull moment.

Who would you love to work with?
I would love to move into some film work if possible and work with some great actors. Al Pacino would be nice, haha. I saw him on Broadway last year in a play called “Glengarry Glen Ross” and he was amazing!

If you had not become a performer what profession would you have chosen?
At school I was always into English, History and Art. I wanted to study architecture but the option was not there but I love buildings and craft subjects so a career in architecture I think would have been my next path.

What’s your dream role?
My dream role… well, as far as musicals go I get to play my dream role! Frankie Valli, you can’t get much better than that in my opinion. For film I would like to play something deep. I’d like to explore something opposite to myself, maybe a character with special needs or maybe even a villain as those characters always come with the most scope.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years time?
Who knows, hahaha. We never know where we will be next year let alone in 10 and that’s sometimes why we love this industry as it brings so many surprises and can be so varied. I would like to be able to look back and say I have played some good roles and had many more experiences, maybe got to travel with my work some more.

What are your pet peeves?
Seeing people in roles they were never right for in the first place. It has become all to familiar now for “celebrities” to be cast in shows for the sake of their 5 mins of fame rather than go with a professional who has spent their life training and working hard at their art. It is very rare that you see talent cast over profile and so the standard of any show, film or TV program suffers dramatically . It’s a sad thing but I guess this is a business after all.

What music do you listen to? And what was the last album you bought?
The last album I bought was Rascal Flatts, Changed. I try and listen to loads of different types of music, anything that’s honest and good in its own right, preferably not manufactured… real music!

If there was a movie about your life, who should play you? And it can’t be yourself!
Not entirely sure how interesting this would be to anyone but I’d certainly like someone who is down to earth. I will pretty much watch anything with Leonardo DiCaprio in as you can always see that he chooses the films HE wants to do and not just for the mass. He completely puts himself into each character he chooses. I like the idea of the actor becoming someone else and not just themselves reading the lines they were given.

Thank you Ben for taking the time to do this interview!

You can see Ben in Jersey Boys at the Prince Edwards Theatre. For more info and to book tickets go to http://www.jerseyboyslondon.com/.

Follow Ben on Twitter @Ben_Ejennings

Declan Bennett: “I’ve been waiting for something to bring me home.”

6 Apr

With a lead role in the pop biography Taboo at 21 Declan Bennett’s career in musical theatre started at an early age. He  played Roger in Rent both on tour in the US and on Broadway and appeared in the original cast of Green Day’s American Idiot on Broadway.

Being a singer songwriter Declan writes music with gripping, reflective lyrics. His album “An Innocent Evening Of Drinking” was released in 2008. His latest album “record: BREAKUP” is out now.

Declan has returned to the UK stage to play the part of Guy in the Tony Award winning musical Once. He kindly took some time out of his busy schedule to talk about the show, his career and what it’s like to be back on stage in the UK.

declan

Once is currently in previews at the Phoenix Theatre in London after playing in Dublin for 2 weeks. What has your journey with the show been like so far?
Its been great, demanding, lovely, tough, tiring, a good laugh and extremely challenging. I moved back to London from New York for the production and I started rehearsals the day after I landed so I feel like I’m only just adjusting to British life once again.

It has been a while since you have appeared in the West End. How does it feel to be back?
Feels lovely. I’ve been waiting for something to bring me home and this couldn’t be more perfect. I love New York and I love living there. But London feels like home. And to be back in the West End, particularly when there’s a lot of exciting stuff happening here this year feels great.

Once is presented as a musical. Personally I would call it a play with music. How would you describe the show to someone who knew nothing about it?
I agree. It’s a play about music. It’s not your average play and it’s not your average musical. It sits in this quiet little corner on its own not trying to be anything it isn’t and not shouting too loud about itself.

Being a singer-songwriter yourself, how far can you relate to Guy?
The similarities are almost embarrassing. Haha. It’s a role that I identify with very strongly for a lot of reasons. But there’s a healthy distance between us which is also important!

Doing the show eight times a week is vocally demanding. Are any of the songs particularly hard to sing? How do you keep your voice in good shape?
Living like a bloody nun….Who has the odd whiskey every now and again. This is without a doubt the most vocally challenging experience I’ve ever had. When I first started on the role, songs like “Leave” and “Say it to me now” felt like these uphill climbs that I was unsure I could reach the top of. So I made it my absolute priority to learn about my voice and how to get the most out of it. I started singing when I was 14. I am finally learning how to sing at 32.

You released your latest album in 2011 and have done gigs in the USA last year. Are you planning any gigs while you are in London?
Yes I am. I’m releasing a live album shortly and a new album towards the end of the year. Once we’re officially open I’ll start doing some gigs around the UK. I can’t wait for that.

Would you like to do more theatre in the future or would you prefer to concentrate on your own music?
I want to keep working on creative projects that stimulate me and make me jazzed to get up in the morning. Whatever form that takes doesn’t matter. I’m currently writing songs like a maniac which is good and I’m working on a solo performance art piece that blends live gig and theatre based on my 2nd album “An Innocent Evening of Drinking”. It’s keeping my creative juices flowing.

Why should people come to see Once?
Because it will sit you down, put its arms around you and remind you what it feels like to be alive.

Visit http://www.declanbennett.co.uk/ for more info on Declan and his music. You can buy his albums on iTunes .
Get tickets to see him in Once at http://www.oncemusical.co.uk/.

Follow Declan on Twitter @thisainttherapy

Jenna Lee-James: “We Will Rock You holds a very special place in my heart”

2 Mar

Jenna Lee-James is probably best known for playing the lead part of Scaramouche in the West End hit musical We Will Rock You. Prior to that she appeared as Meatloaf in the show and was part of the Original London Cast covering both parts. Her other theatre credits include The Narrator in Joseph and the amazing technicolor dreamcoat (Adelphi Theatre), June Child in 20th Century Boy (UK Premiere) and Becky McDonald in Street of Dreams – The Coronation Street years (MEN Arena Manchester) to name just a few.
Jenna has appeared in arena concerts around the world including appearances with the Atlantic Symphony Orchestra and the Colorado Symphony Orchestra. She was a lead vocalist on Strictly Come Dancing – The Professionals (UK Tour 2010). Most recently Jenna has recorded an album with The New London Corale entitled Viva Verdi.
Jenna is currently touring Europe playing the part of Killerqueen in the We Will Rock You 10th Anniversary Arena Tour. This makes Jenna the only performer worldwide to have appeared as first cast Scaramouche, Meatloaf and Killerqueen in the show.

Jenna kindly took some time out of her busy schedule to talk to me about Viva Verdi, her return to We Will Rock You and what the future may hold in store.

jenna

You have recently recorded the album „Viva Verdi“ with Tom Parker’s The New London Choral. Tell me a bit about the album and how you got to be a part of it.
The Album was something completely different for me. Its described as a ‘Classical Crossover’. The New London Chorale have been going for around 20 years and have had many hits in Holland over the years. This is the first album to be recorded in 10 years. I’m the newbie to the group which already comprises of three other singers from London, Lance Ellington, Janet Mooney and Gordon Neville. I was asked by Janet whom I have known for many years if I’d like to come and audition for Tom Parker to be part of the group. I was sent various pieces of music to learn and had to audition a few days later. I met Tom and the rest of the group and basically sung in 4 part harmony with them some of the pieces from the album. Tom rung me 2 days later and offered me the job. Having never sung any classical music before I was very nervous when I went in the studio to record the album but had such great support around me. We recorded 12 tracks for the album one of which was my solo ‘Times Gone By’ which was released as the single. It’s all original Verdi material that Tom has written English lyrics to and made the pieces more funky and even a little bit rocky!! The album is a collection of songs all of which are very different and there are even some humorous ones on there too.

The album was released in Holland in November. Are there plans for a release in other countries? And will there be more live performances?
As of yet there are no plans to release it in other  countries but there are a few things in the pipeline so watch this space.  After having performed at the MAX Proms in Utrecht in December there will be more performances later this year.  Dates are still being confirmed.  There will also be a DVD released later in the year.  We are filming that in May.

You are currently appearing as Killerqueen in the We Will Rock You Arena Tour. After playing Meat and Scaramouche in the West End production, how does it feel to be back in the show in yet another lead role?
I am very excited to be going back into We Will Rock You and I feel very privileged to be given the opportunity. We Will Rock You holds a very special place in my heart and to have played my first lead role in the West End with Meatloaf and then take over as Scaramouche, I can’t believe that 11 years later I am going back to play another lead in the same show and be the first person worldwide to have played all 3 leads.

You will be touring Europe, Asia and Australia with the show. Which city or country are you most looking forward to?
That’s a hard one as we are visiting so many beautiful countries on this first leg of the tour.  We are only doing European dates initially so I would have to say either Prague or Croatia as I have never been to either and everyone keeps telling me how amazing they both are.  Or Amsterdam as I have made so many friends there with the album release that it will be nice to see so many friendly faces in the audience.

Do you enjoy touring?
Does anyone enjoy touring?  Yes and No. When you are on tour the company becomes like one big family as you literally work and live together.  It makes for a really tight group of friends and everyone looks out for each other.  Also you get to see some amazing and interesting places.  But on the downside you miss your family and friends dreadfully.  With technology now and Skype, Facetime and Email it does make it easier but every day away gets tougher so it helps knowing that we’re all in the same boat and we look out for one another.  It’s also a race to find out who can get the WiFi password first.

Looking into the future: What part would you love to play at some point in your career?
There are a few I’d love to play:  Eva Peron in Evita and Elphaba in Wicked would be my top two but I would love to create another role in a new musical.  I created June Child in ’20th Century Boy’ in 2011 but would really love to do something new again.

Do you have a message for all the We Will Rock You fans that have been following the show throughout the years and that are looking forward to seeing the Arena Tour?
The We Will Rock You fans are like no other. There are certain fans that have been with the show since the beginning and when they found out myself and MiG were back in the show they emailed us straight away to say they were coming to see the show again. The fact that I’m sadly not doing the UK dates didn’t stop them buying tickets either as many are now coming to Amsterdam, Dublin and Belfast.  I just want to say a huge thank you from the bottom of my heart for all your support over the past 11 years. Those of you who were there from the beginning helped make the show the worldwide success that it is today.  I hope we won’t disappoint with the Arena tour.  This cast is superb.  A few faces you’ll have seen before and a few newbies.  We have a Killer band and crew too. 11 years on and we’re still rocking it out, this time instead of my white GaGa clothes I’ll be in leather with my fat bottomed girls.  See you on the road somewhere soon!

Thank you Jenna for taking the time to answer the questions!

Check out Jenna’s website http://www.jennaleejames.com and follow her on Twitter @jennaleejames .
And have a look at http://www.wewillrockyou.co.uk/tour/venues/ for all confirmed dates of the We will rock you Arena Tour.