JOURNAL ENTRY 2
DATE – Sunday 7th May, 2017
Hey guys! Okay, so recently I’ve been struggling with ideas for blog posts, so before I get started on this one I’ve had a thought! What I need y’all to do is to ask me a question on this post, any question whatsoever, and in a post roughly this time next week I will answer all! I look forward to seeing what you guys want to know…
Anyway, on to today’s post – and I’d like to share with you all a history of the performances I’ve acted in (be it theatre or film). I thought this would be cool as starting on Tuesday, I’ll be starting a photo/video thread covering the American Idiot process – so this will be a nice tie-in! Just as a note, I don’t think performances on stage when I was still at school count as true credits, so these will be from college-age onwards (save for a couple of shows which were with professional theatre companies, just whilst I was still at school). Oh! And due to the nature of this post, a SPOILER ALERT is in order. So, without further ado…
BUGSY MALONE – HARLOW PLAYHOUSE, 2007 – PLAYHOUSE THEATRE COMPANY
CHARACTER – Various
After acting in the school production of Bugsy Malone in spring 2007, at the young age of then-twelve-going-on-thirteen, I was delighted to hear that my local town theatre was putting on their own production of the hilarious 20’s gangster spoof as part of Harlow Town’s 60th anniversary celebrations. And so, I hopped along to auditions, with dreams of acting in a fully-fledged theatre. They were realised! As part of the chorus, I played a variety of characters – including Flash Frankie, the lawyer with a silver tongue who gets ‘iced’ five minutes into the show, Dandy Dan’s butler, and many more. I met some friends for life in this show – one of whom, Jack, I still consider my best friend to this day, and is now teaching English to schoolchildren. Fantastic!
PETER PAN – HARLOW PLAYHOUSE, 2009 – PHOENIX THEATRE COMPANY
CHARACTER – Nibs
Two years later, and a new show flew onto my radar – Peter Pan. Now, I’d already seen the Disney film, and was intrigued when I found that the show bore more similarities to the original JM Barrie novel than the sugar-sweet Disney adaptation. By this point, I was starting to consider performance as a very real career path (even at the age of fifteen!), and decided to once again audition for the newly-renamed Phoenix Theatre Company. Originally being cast as an unnamed Lost Boy, I started to impress by taking initiative at rehearsals (including one session in which I learnt the Lost Boy Noodles’ lines to fill in for the actor who was absent, without prompt) and was soon bumped up to the role of Nibs, a far more prominent Lost Boy. This show featured the full sh-bang – wire work, swordfighting, emotionally-charged scenes and, yes, musical numbers – and also introduced me to the idea of flash-mobbing as a means of promoting a show.
FAME: THE MUSICAL – HARLOW PLAYHOUSE, 2010 – RARE PRODUCTIONS
CHARACTER – Mr Scheinkopf
A new year, a new theatre company. Rare Productions had been on my radar for a few years prior to Fame, after going to see their performance of Les Miserables in Hertford. I therefore decided, what the hey? Let’s try something new. On my first try, I was cast as German music teacher Scheinkopf in Fame: The Musical, and at first I had no clue as to who he was or what the show was about – aside from the frightfully catchy title song, I knew nothing. However, it intrigued me so much so that I decided I was going to stick with Rare for quite a while, and the show ended up becoming a dark horse in my favourites. Not to mention the fact that, with not a lot of stage time, I had plenty of time to put my feet up and keep a relaxed state of mind!
OLIVER! – HARLOW PLAYHOUSE, 2011 – RARE PRODUCTIONS
CHARACTER – Mr Bumble
Ah, now this one you’ve probably heard of! Sticking with Rare, I was delighted to move up the pecking order, in a way, when I was cast as Mr Bumble, my favourite character from the classic musical Oliver!. Again, a character with not so much in the way of stage time, I had a lot more to play with when it came to over-the-top characterisation – and boy, did I take every opportunity to chew scenery up like a dog on a soft toy. This was also my first performance in which I took steps to change my own physical appearance beyond costuming, growing out my own mutton chops rather than wearing fakes. Although, I still had to wear a fat suit – I wouldn’t need to now, which is rather sad to say! Oh yes, and myself and my friend Chris (who played the Artful Dodger) decided it would be a good idea to go clubbing after opening night to celebrate with drinks, and ended up performing night two with raging hangovers – not to mention I was still underage by just under a year. Do. Not. Recommend.
DUCkS – SHORT FILM
CHARACTER – Various (ALSO EDITOR)
One of my chosen subjects to study at college was Film. To this end, one of our projects was to create a short film based on an original idea. I teamed up with three of my fellow students – and best friends – Jack, Aimee and Mark, and we based our film around a theatre piece Jack had devised previously. A crazy idea featuring crazy characters and crazy stories and crazy lightwriting that made my eyes go funny. There’s not really much I can say about this piece that would ever do it justice – you’re just going to have to watch it and see if you can figure it out… -> DUCkS
CAMP ROCK: THE MUSICAL – HARLOW PLAYHOUSE, 2012 – RARE PRODUCTIONS
CHARACTER – Nate Gray
Oh God. So cheesy, but so brilliant. Chris of Dodger fame, my friend David (who played Brownlow in Oliver and now studies at RADA) and myself were cast as the three male leads – who were basically the Jonas Brothers with changed names. This show was genuinely such a lot of fun to be a part of – and some of the songs actually seriously rocked. I remember in one performance of the show (I think it was the third show of four in the run, the Saturday matinee), I put so much effort into my character that my guitar literally fell apart in my hands on stage, my hat flew backwards off my head and I kicked it to the other side of the stage in an adrenaline rush (accidentally knocking over a chorus member), and even the set started to come apart under us. We were really giving it 120%.
POULTRY IN MOTION – SHORT FILM
CHARACTER – Various (ALSO DIRECTOR)
In my second year studying Film at Harlow College, I decided to go against the grain against the rest of the group. Whilst students split off into smaller groups to make films together – a lot of which tended to strain towards the horror genre – I decided to go it alone and make a film that told a more dramatic story. Taking my cue from the classic ‘Why did the chicken cross the road?’, my mind sprang with what that question could mean. The result was a very simple story that invested more in character than in set-pieces. I threaded little hints to the twist at the end of the film throughout, and thought about it very carefully. Using a wide range of locations and actors, I think my film was also one of the most diverse performances I’ve directed/acted in, encompassing various genres. If you’d like to watch this one, too, here’s a link – although I’d advise having a box of tissues handy -> POULTRY IN MOTION
THE LAST DAZE OF ST SWITHUN’S – HARLOW PLAYHOUSE, 2012 – RARE PRODUCTIONS
CHARACTER – Sid
Most of you, if not all, will never have heard of St Swithun’s. I’ll describe the premise quickly – to sum up, it’s a complete rip-off of the popular St Trinian’s stories about a school for unruly (well, downright demonic) schoolgirls, only Swithuns features a lot of 50’s/60’s rock n’ roll as its musical numbers. And Jesus Christ, I got to ham it up. Being cast as a man named Sid, the local spiv who attended to the cross-dressing Headmistress’s every need and signed dodgy deals on the sly, I was tasked with singing fast and loose rock n’ roll such as Johnny B Goode, Great Balls Of Fire and At The Hop. One of my greatest regrets is that I’ll likely never be able to do this show again, as Sid is probably my favourite character to date to play.
RARE PRODUCTIONS 10TH ANNIVERSARY – HER MAJESTY’S THEATRE, LONDON, 2012
CHARACTER – Featured Singer
Probably, the biggest thing I have ever done in my acting career. In 2012, Rare Productions celebrated its 10th anniversary, and to celebrate announced a very special performance – a showcase of all of its licensed shows at Her Majesty’s Theatre in London, of Phantom Of The Opera fame. Any previous cast member from all areas that Rare operated in would be eligible to audition, and a select few were chosen as ‘featured singers’ – i.e. performers who would sing within a solo / duet. And I was one of them! Being chosen to sing Great Balls Of Fire from the aforementioned St Swithuns musical in front of TWELVE HUNDRED people was absolutely daunting, not to mention the group performances I was also involved in. But the end result was so once-in-a-lifetime, I have no regrets.
THE LAST DAZE OF ST SWITHUNS – HERTFORD THEATRE, 2013 – RARE PRODUCTIONS
CHARACTER – Sid
After closing for the one-night-only West End performance, I was asked by a local Musical Director with the company if I could step into a previous role in a new town – Sid, from St Swithuns – as the original actor had taken on a full professional acting job and could no longer commit to the role. I did so without hesitation, and had a very new experience of attending rehearsals as a fish of water within a theatre company I had already been part of for a few years.
THE WEDDING SINGER – NOTTINGHAM PLAYHOUSE, 2014 – NTSU DRAMA
CHARACTER – Various
My first show with a new company (in this case, society). My first production with a host of new people. My first production in a new city, truly away from home. For fans of the original 1998 film, The Wedding Singer is an absolute hoot. Joining the local drama society at Nottingham Trent University – NTSU Drama – at which I had recently enrolled, I was keen to get back into acting on stage and experiencing an entire rehearsal process. Things were a little bit more complicated than that, as when I first auditioned I didn’t make the cut! Cast advice prompted the director to change his mind two months in, and I played a variety of roles – although not Billy Idol, the role I craved, despite my friend George doing a marvellous job as the 80’s icon! Full of humour and satire, this was a production unlike any other I had ever been in, and the only production to date that I performed in the beautiful Nottingham Playhouse.
GREASE – NOTTINGHAM ARTS THEATRE, 2015 – NTSU DRAMA
CHARACTER – Doody
My second performance with NTSU Drama, and my first leading role with the society. I was cast as Doody, the T-Bird who was a little slow on the uptake with a passion for music. Basically the 1950’s version of me, then. I’ve gone on record as not having the best relationship with Grease – I’ve always considered it to be one of those shows that simply EVERYONE does – but don’t get me wrong, whilst in the midst of rehearsals and showtime itself I really did enjoy this show. It challenged me in some ways – one of which being learning to play the guitar BADLY, which is difficult if you actually know how to play it right! – and was probably the show in which I really worked out how much of a conversation between actor and director is needed to create the best character. Following stage directions and notes here, a few bits of improvisation every now and then, and Doody was simply a joy to play. Plus, I got to be a part of the cracking Greased Lightning song, which – despite my antipathy towards the majority of the production’s score – is a rollicking good song. I still sing Doody’s parts every time someone plays Summer Nights on karaoke.
H.Y.D.E. – NOTTINGHAM TRENT STUDENT UNION, 2016 – NTSU DRAMA
CHARACTER – Steve Alright
My first foray into straight-up dramatic acting on stage came a lot later, in hindsight. In the late months of 2015, I decided to make a change from what I was used to in NTSU Drama – after having acted in both previous year’s musical productions, and the many musical productions with the aforementioned companies before university – I decided to audition instead for the play production, a modern adaptation of the famous Jekyll & Hyde story. The story involved a pair of lawyers who attempted to bring down the H.Y.D.E. Foundation, a group of Internet hackers masquerading online and threatening various people with blackmail. My character, Steve Alright, was once again the comic relief. But, contrary to previous roles, I had a LOT more room to improvise in rehearsals and bring it to the stage, allowing me greater control on the character. It was one of those rare shows where, aside from the billed pair of ‘lead’ actors, virtually all of the cast were on completely equal billing. And I was quite okay with that. However, my foray into something different ended up having an unusual side effect…
THE ADDAMS FAMILY – NOTTINGHAM ARTS THEATRE, 2016 – NTSU DRAMA
CHARACTER – Lurch
And so we move on to the second show I performed in during 2016 – and in doing so, becoming the first (and to date, only) member of NTSU Drama to act in both productions within the same year. I’d just finished the run of H.Y.D.E. when the director of the musical production, an adaptation of the darkly humorous The Addams Family, approached me and asked if I wouldn’t mind stepping into a role as a favour – a role which I had just over a month to learn the entire show before the show opened! Thankfully, the huge majority of Lurch – the family’s ever-loyal butler – did not require a huge amount of effort, mostly consisting of incomprehensible sounds and clunky movement. However, I was involved in a few dance numbers and even had to open the final number in a booming, operatic voice. My bandmate, Rob (I had joined Centurion by this time), had come to see and, despite not being a huge musical theatre fan, was completely won over. Definitely a favourite show of mine.
AMERICAN IDIOT – MELTON THEATRE, 2017 – SKY THEATRE PRODUCTIONS
CHARACTER – St Jimmy
Here we arrive finally, ten years later, at the present! As I’m sure you all know by now, I’ve just been cast in the role of St Jimmy, a role I’ve desired since American Idiot opened on Broadway for the first time ever in 2010! Rehearsals have only just begun and it’s going to be interesting to work with a completely, brand new set of people, in a completely new location, with a brand new company, but it’s a challenge I’m looking forward to rising to. Everyone’s all raring to go to create a great piece of theatre, and I’m not going to let anyone down! By the way, here’s a link to get yourself a ticket, as you won’t want to miss this show! -> American Idiot – TICKETS
Thanks for taking the time to have a look at my blog – remember to keep an eye out for my next post tomorrow! And don’t forget to leave your questions below! – Bertie x