He is a Westend theatre star and star of the small screen, what has he done? howling has he wanted to be in the entertainment industry? find out to all that and much more besides with the full interview below.
What was it like performing at the West End for &Juliet?
It’s an amazing experience. I think seeing something through from the beginning at the workshop stages all the way up and then to Manchester and making its debut at the Shaftesbury Theatre in London, it has been such an amazing experience. We have this saying at work when the director will say that everyone has a fingerprint on the show, And it’s so true. You know, there are little things in there that people have added themselves or the fact our costumes are all based on our Instagram profiles. So, the costume designer went through all of our Instagram’s and saw the kind of thing that we like to wear, and the colours we don’t like wearing, what trainers we wanted to dance in, It’s such a personal experience.
& Juliet, I think, is breaking boundaries in the sense of diversity and inclusion. I think that’s really important as we move forward in theatre, that it should be available to everyone who has an interest in it. &Juliet does that really, really well, I think it represents a lot of people, I’ve loved the show since it started. I mean, who doesn’t want to dance to Britney Spears and Katy Perry on a nightly basis, in fact, performing in front of Katy Perry, when she came to watch and performing her song, back to her was crazy. But yeah, I’m very grateful for the opportunity that I’ve had to be part of &Juliet.
If you could actually play another character from the cast. Who would you like to play?
I’ve been asked this question quite a lot. I’d love to give it a go as Juliet, Why not? Who wouldn’t? But also, prior to the theatres closing I was supposed to actually make my debut with May and I get asked the question, if you could play any part at the West end, what would it be? I always just say, I would like to go back to work and actually get to play my character. That would be the dream. So yeah, I think probably out of all the other characters that I don’t cover I’d like to play Juliet.
You have done quite a lot of TV and film. What have been some your favorite roles you have played?
It is so hard, isn’t it? Because I’ve been very lucky to play various different roles. I did a film with Helena Bonham Carter it was a film called Magnificent seven on the BBC, it was based on a real family about a lady who had seven children and all four of the boys were autistic. I played one of the lead Sons and I got to work with Helena for about six months, I think that is probably one of my favorite roles that I’ve ever played. It was a stellar cast and getting to work with people like Helena is an amazing opportunity. I was on the Disney Channel, I was like the first UK northern boy to ever be on the Disney Channel which was really cool, that was called As The Bell Rings.
I also had a nice little part on a BBC Three show called Frankenstein’s wedding, where I got to work with David Harewood, who was in Blood Diamond with Leonardo DiCaprio, and actually got killed in that, well I didn’t get killed, I got strangled up against the wall that was my first violent kind of performance on TV which is fun to look back on.
Are there any TV shows, or movies that you’d love to be a part of, or remakes that you would love to star in?
Yeah, I’d love to do like a musical film. Something like the prom, or any musical version of a film. I ‘d love to do a remake of singing in the rain. I mean, it shouldn’t be touched but I’d love to do something like that. I get told a lot that I look like a young Kirk Douglas. So, I guess if they’re ever going to make a film about the life of Kirk Douglas. You know where I am to drop me a line!!
Have you always wanted to be in the entertainment industry in some way? Whether it be the West End or TV movies or singing? Is that something that you’ve always wanted to do?
Yeah, I think I’ve grown up with it, not all my family of performers Professionally, but my mom was a holiday Rep. I’ve grown up getting on the karaoke. And I went and saw a show with my mum when I was young a variety show in my local town, And I was like, I need to do that I think I was six at the time. I started dancing when I was about six, and it just grew from there.
I’ve always known since I was little, I mean, it’s changed from when I was younger, I said I just want to be famous now obviously, as I’ve grown older, I found that if wasn’t what meant. I actually meant, I want to be successful as a performer, I want to be remembered for anything I do as a performer, and, obviously in the most positive way possible, I’ve always known that there wasn’t going to be any other job for me, other than performing. And I still feel like that now, you know, I’m 28 years old, and I’m not old at all, I mean, compared to some dancers coming out of college that are 20, I’m probably getting a bit stiff compared to them. I think even now, you know, as any performer in the industry, people don’t realize, you could be in a Westend show one year, and then the next year, you’re not, you know, you don’t work at all. So, having that drive every day, when you have an audition to do, you know what I’m getting up, I’m going to go to that audition, I’m going to book this job, it is really tiring, a lot of people think you’ve got it really easy, you just do what you love for a living. And, yes of course I appreciate that so much that I get to wake up, I get to, you know, put on a costume, I get to go out and singing dance, or I get to go on a TV show and do some acting. But the road to get into that point, you start at the beginning every time, you know, it is rare unless you’re a big star that people call it up and just offer you jobs. You go in with the expectation that you’re going to be good because you’ve done some great jobs but you are essentially starting back at the beginning to go for that role, I do think it’s difficult. A lot of people then get to an age where they’re like, you know what, I want kids, I want to get married, which I absolutely want to do all those thing but I will never not want to be part of the entertainment industry in my eyes, anyway.
What was the very first memory you had of being on TV and in theatre?
My first theatre memory, my first part in a play was in the production of The Wizard of Oz, and I was as the lion and right at the end of the show when Dorothy re sings ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow’, the characters sort of back away at the end of the show and I had an itch in my costume, so I scratched and I heard one person laugh then I did it more and more and more. I totally upstaged Dorothy and looking back, it was a terrible thing that I did. But I just loved that whole live audience kind of view that hold on, Oh, I’m making an impression here and you do that when you’re a kid you don’t know you’re doing any wrong. I mean, it definitely got in trouble for it. That my first West End memory.
I was the original Billy Elliot in the workshop when they made Billy into a musical, I was the workshop Billy. So,my first thought was kind of, you know, singing with Elton john at the piano, which is I guess is really cool, then my first kind of West End for the public was Chitty Chitty Bang Bang when I was 10. So that was my first memory in theatre, you know, being so young and not really appreciating what was going on because it was just amazing. And my first TV, I went to Sylvia young school, which is absolutely what gave me my start in this kind of career. I would not be doing what I’m doing now if I hadn’t gone to Sylvia’s and the first year, I joined we did a documentary called one How to Be famous on the BBC, which was one of the four people who have got scholarships that year to attend the school, i said to my Mum i’,m on TV this is crazy, yeah they’re kind of my first memories of being on TV and on stage.
Last year you did Cinderella, what was that like?
So obviously, I feel really privileged to have had a job, especially over Christmas. We ended up being in Liverpool. It was originally scheduled for Manchester, Stoke Wimbledon and Leicester Square. Obviously as the rules kept changing this wasn’t possible to do all of those places. So when Manchester and Stoke wasn’t available we actually changed it to Liverpool. Obviously, with it being Odeon cinemas we were very lucky to have had the option to change venues. So, it was a live show within the cinema and people could come and watch but obviously we could change, Odeon could move us wherever they wanted to go. We ended for the whole of lockdown to be in Liverpool as Liverpool was one of the only places that managed to stay in tier two, which meant we could stay open, and it was an amazing experience. You know, I’ve done Panto before but never in a pandemic, there was only five of us in the cast, who I’ve made some absolutely, you know, amazing friends, we were all very close that I’m very grateful that I had the opportunity to be part of a production in 2020.
I did see from your Twitter, you did a video from Leicester Square, Odeon. With your name with the Cinderella cast. How did that feel to see your name up there and in lights?
Yeah, I think it’s that really cheesy, kind of cliche of like, that’s my name in lights, I have been very lucky to do film and tv but to I’ve never seen my face that big on a screen, we were shooting that day for Panto and the producers said every one come outside and turn around it was such a surreal moment.
What have been some of your favourite costumes that you have worn?
Yes, so I did Kinky Boots before I did &Juliet and that was my all-time favorite costume. It was about 10,000 pounds, I was the police officer and I had these gorgeous blue police officer outfit which was completely Swarovski crystals and then obviously my thigh high six-inch heel boots that were made for me in Australia, so yeah, that’s got to be like the most empowering kind of outfit that I’ve ever worn and, having that moment in that costume of like yes Look at me, this is iconic that’s definitely I think, my favorite costume of all time. And then with &Juliet Again, the fact that all the costumes are based on our own personal styles is really cool. You know, I don’t know, when they do a cast change, if they would repeat that process, or if our costumes are kind of set-in stone now, so I think, you know, we are potentially going to look and however long &Juliet is on for, there will still be a bit of us in the show, whenever we leave it, and move on. So, I think that’s a really cool kind of thing that you wouldn’t normally get in anything, even in an original cast, you know, it’s, the costumes which are pretty much set out. Whereas with us, these have all been based on our kind of personal styles. I love that.
Are there any theatre shows that you’d love to be part of just for the costumes?
I saw Kinky Boots, like the year before I actually got into it. And I was like, oh, if I could just be a part of that, that’s the dream. It’s really funny because my mum, I tell this story a lot.. but I took my mum to see the show. And at the end, during the finale, she was like, you should be out there doing that. And I was like, Oh, Mum, it doesn’t work like that, you know, she’s my biggest fan, but it just doesn’t work like that. And then almost a year to the day, my mum and sister sat in the same seats, that me and mum sat in, I was up there, and I looked over during my finale walk down it’s kind of a bit of a, you know, a full circle moment.
I saw Lord of the Rings, when that was in town, and not so much the costumes. But I had a friend who was the wiggy on our show. She’s called Jackie, She, she was a wiggy on Lord of the Rings we have these chats all the time, there was 500 plus weeks in that show. I don’t know if you ever saw the show, but it was such a spectacle, it was the most like spectacular thing I’d seen. So yeah, I think that Lord of the Rings definitely sticks out in my mind as a show that I would have loved to have been a part on based on its kind of creative look and everything.
Would you to go from the other side and maybe write your own musical?
Yeah, because a lot of creatives, especially in this time use their skill to develop their own kind of musicals and stories.
Oh, actually, in response to the other question, I absolutely would love to be in six. I speak to Lucy moss about this, I would love to be one of the Queen’s in six. I would love to be Katherine Howard, which is the part that my friends is currently playing in London, and I let her know that I want her part every single week.
So yeah, moving on. do I want to create my own stuff? Yeah, I mean, I’d love to in the future, if I could find someone to collaborate with. It’s not something I want to do by myself. I think we’re going to talk about life of a swing after. But from that whole thing which just stemmed from us sitting around writing and as a group, I definitely work well in them situations. If someone comes to me that wants to write something I’d be like, you know what, let’s do it. my partner, Daniel, he’s actually a writer. He writes young adult fiction; he’s got his first debut novel on Amazon it’s called Fairy Boys, So, I leave the writing to him. I would hope in the future, maybe if he writes a musical, he may give me the lead so who knows.
What was the idea behind the Life Of A Swing?
So, the life of a swing? What was the idea behind it? at the time, we were writing it we was filming our EPK for the show, which is the advert that goes out on tv, and online things and obviously, as a swings, you aren’t required for the filming but you are required to be there in case anyone gets sick or falls ill.
It was quite early in the morning; we were sat there. And Billy (Nevers) was playing Ex-Wives from SIX the Musical and I just randomly changed the first lines about being a swing and we all just started laughing. After some time, I said, you know what, I’m going to rewrite this song and then we were like, you know what, let’s record it and actually started recording it with Billy on his Mac in GarageBand, Billy very quickly lost interest, I was like, No, this is going to be fun, I said ‘Josh’ help me so he did and it was just very much a joke. It wasn’t supposed to go anywhere else. I went around to different dressing rooms, lip-syncing it then I went to Jordan Luke Gage’s dressing room and I was like listen to this, I thought he was just filming on his phone, but he had put it on his Instagram story. I quickly said Jordan; you need to remove that because I haven’t got any rights to use the song I’m going to get in trouble. So, he deleted it but, in the time, it had been online somebody screen recorded it and put it on Twitter saying we need the full version.
I was like, No, this is awful. And then the next day, Jordan rang me and said, Lucy moss, who’s one of the co-writers of six has asked me for the full song and I was like, No, Jordan, I can’t I’m going to get in trouble. He was like, No, she wants it. So obviously, it’s home music, I can’t not do it. So, I sent it and then got a message back saying this is amazing, what are you going to do with it? And I was like, Oh, well, we were thinking about making a video, but we didn’t know whether we would be allowed to produce it or let it out. And she was like, you absolutely have to do it.
So literally the next week because we never went on in Manchester, nobody was off. We had a lot of spare time once we’ve learned all of our tracks. I was like, okay, let’s do it. So, I came up with the concept for the video with Billy, Josh, Jay and Sophie. All of the swings. I asked the girls in Juliet if they wanted to get involved in it, it was this fun project for a week. We released a snippet on Instagram and people were begging for more saying we want it, we need it. Where’s the song? This is iconic. I posted it that night. It all just sort of went wild, it was viable everyone saw it, and it was just amazing.
The whole idea behind putting up the video was just to raise some awareness for swings in the musical theatre industry. So, you know they are there. There’s a lot of people who are swings who don’t necessarily always get the recognition that they deserve, some nights the show doesn’t go ahead if a swing isn’t available it’s similar to understudies, but a swing might be playing six people in one show and the audience will never know. So, this was just a way of doing something to promote the swings in the industry as sometimes they get a bit forgotten and obviously it led on to a lovely partnership with the theatre cafe.
We came up with the swing Chair of the week in the theatre cafe. They have chairs with stars with names on the back that you can have a picture in we had a chat and I said, Look, why don’t we get like a blackboard star, we can change the name every week. People can nominate a swing once a week through their socials, and you can write their name on. And, yeah, it was a great little thing that turned into something really positive, it started as a joke, then it put the swings on the map it was nice for them to be appreciated more.
When you’re looking at different shows, to audition for what makes you actually think you this is the role that I’d like to play?
I think there’s a point in your career when you are well known enough and you become picky about the kind of roles you want to do. Of course, even now, at my age, there are roles I know I’m definitely not right for this, or I’m really right for that and I’d love to be seen for that.
Also, you’ve got to have a good relationship with your agent, you want the relationship that you can say, you know, what, this actually isn’t for me, or I really need to be seen for that, can you get me in I do believe that, like when you’re starting out and growing through the industry, you know, going and meeting directors and, producers it is so important. I’ve never, ever really turned around and said I’m not going for that, I felt that way about Cats and, then I ended up getting to finals, but I ended up pulling out for another job but you just never know what someone is looking for on that day. If the person in charge says, we’d like to see your client, there’s a reason they want to see you.
I’ve been very lucky thus far that any role I have done or I have auditioned for I’ve always gone in with the attitude of I’d love to play this part’, it’s an amazing thing that we get to spend our lives working, Performing, dancing, singing, acting, you know, we all grew up with it as a hobby. And, if you can turn it into professional career, then that’s amazing in itself. I’ve just been very lucky and I believe that the right role will always come along for the right person.
Obviously, when you’re away from the stage, how do you like to relax and enjoy your time?
I hate my own company. I just hate my own company. I hate silence. I hate not doing anything. I always try and keep myself busy.
You know, like I try and spend a lot of time with my friends and get home and see my family as much as I can. I love watching tv, I am a huge TV and film watcher. If there’s a TV show and it’s coming out, I probably binged it in a day, I am definitely that person.
I love shopping. I love fashion. And so yeah, I’m always managing to keep myself busy. But even in this lockdown, you know, it’s been a real struggle for a lot of people. But I straight away got a job in Sainsbury’s on the night shift and then after that I went and worked as a receptionist at a hair salon. I’ve taught on zoom. I’ve done everything I can to keep busy, because I know when I’m not busy, that’s when I’m unhappy. Yeah, it’s hard enough that we’ve all lost our jobs. But if you sit around doing nothing It becomes way harder. So yeah, my hobbies and lifestyle choices are just stay busy. Have fun and don’t take life too seriously.
What does the future hold for you?
Great question. What does the future hold for me? I mean, none of us know what the future holds. Especially in times like this, where the future feels bleak, but I am a really positive person. And I do think that what you put into life, you will get out of like tenfold. So, I’d like to think what I would like the future to hold is that my family and my friends, be healthy, be happy and be fortunate. I want to win a Tony, an Emmy, an Olivier Award. But also, I just want to stay doing what I love doing for the rest of my life. I don’t want to be the best at everything and you don’t want to do it that way, I just want to look back on my life and go, you know what I did exactly what I wanted to do and I had the most fun doing it and that’s I want from life. I want to be able to sit and have a drink and dinner with friends. I want to never wear a mask again. But yeah, I think the main thing is that I just want to be happy.