Thursday, February 14, 2008

There are so many things to consider throughout the day: How much should I spend on lunch? Is this the quickest way, or is there a short-cut I don't know about? What is the best spin to put on this line of text? Did I make the most of my day? Do I deserve to relax? Do I take into consideration my friend's feelings enough? Am I a people pleaser to my own detriment?...

These are the thoughts, among others, of my day today.

Its a funny thing, theatre. Twice today I ran into bouts of negativity in my workplace.

Firstly, we were sitting having sandwiches in a little cafe near London Bridge Station. We were chatting about careers as actors and taking money over art or balancing the two. The negative vibe I got was when my cast-mate refered to the business of acting as too much of a money-making scheme and not enough as a craft. My opinions at the moment I realise many "seasoned" actors don't hold anymore. Perhaps they did when they were my age, but years in the trade may have worn it out of them. I firmly believe in the craft of acting as an ongoing life-long endeavor that shapes your life as much as your life shapes your art. This is so important to hold on to. I suppose as I come up to new opportunities and it comes time to decide for myself when I'm in the driver's seat, I will have to face them in a new light, but I'm pretty sure its good to have a notion of values before that day comes, so when it does (and it will) I will be well equipped.

The second negative vibe was out of a very useful conversation I had with a cast-mate from Canada. She was telling me a bit more about the differences between America and the UK. The minimum pay in the UK is so much lower than in the US it is unbelievable. Obviously a major contributing factor in why "Gone With The Wind" is debuting in the West End instead of Broadway: try it out first where it's cheap so you know if you can sell it in New York. But then my cast-mate deftly swapped the negativity into positivity by making note of the kudos that comes with London theatre. Things can be done in London that cannot be done in New York... magnificent experimental projects that excite and dazzle the mind in a much different form than across the pond.

Being cast in the world premier of a very-much talked about musical directed by Trevor Nunn is one of the best things that has ever happened to me. Yet, within the first 2 days of rehearsals another friend who was in Les Miserables last year made a comment about how I will be coveting larger roles within the first months of performance. So after waiting for months in nervous anticipation of this great opportunity, do I take that on-board and look forward to a career of always wanting "that other role"? Hell no! Wishing we had "that other role" is like unto "wanting to be 'that guy'". I'm pretty damn happy with being me, thank you very much. If my role is small at the moment, maybe there are 101 reasons why i'm wrong for the other ones. All I know is that I'm working with a director that none of the teachers and lecturers I look up to have ever worked with. I'm doing something right.

I'm younger than I think I am and I think that's a good thing. I'll be prepared for what comes. Who would think I'd be talking like Scarlett O'hara in the first week of rehearsals.


Saturday, February 09, 2008

It definitely doesn't feel real...

I've finally moved to London. Many surreal moments have overtaken me in the past two days. The sun shines differently and the air smells peculiar.

My brain reacts by worrying about the most ridiculous details, which, I guess, is a good thing showing me there is really nothing to worry about.

On Tuesday I begin rehearsals for the World Premier of the musical adaptation of "Gone With The Wind".

I went to the Barbican Theatre last night to see a physical theatre/dance performance. It was shit, but I had a moment of realization... I was there in a very large auditorium and it was the first moment I could imagine that in a few weeks time, I, too will be in a very large auditorium.

I am cramming the GWTW info into my head and trying to remember as much about the Civil War as I can. (It was a fair few years ago when we studied it in school.)

I will try to hit this blog as much as possible as we work through rehearsals. I can't wait to work with Trevor Nunn and the rest of the cast.

More soon...


Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Merry Mithras

Here I am in my homeland...about to flee it. I've been utterly fortunate to have an entire month away from any sort of stress (besides the illogical ones that occasionally swirl around inside my head). I've been home with family and enjoying myself very much.
A week in Colorado mainly visiting distant cousins I usually only see at family reunions gave me the chance to catch up with a high school buddy who now lives in Denver with his beautiful girlfriend. He and I partook of the festive cup in some classy joints and ended up in a diner exactly like the one in Pulp Fiction ("I love you Honey-Bunny") eating egg-based foods. It was great to see my friend out of the context of our hometown. He's happy and moving on in life and getting acting work. Hoorah. I'm very proud to say I'm still his friend. And god! he's gotta marry that girl. She's fantastic. So, there we are, Colorado was good all around... and lots of people walking around Denver smoke pipes...just thought I'd throw that in there.
Now I'm gonna rewind back to a few days after Christmas. My friend asked me a year ago to sing at her wedding, and I agreed. Over the course of the year everything panned out excellently and I was able to sing a song by the Welsh-born composer Ivor Novello, and Panis Angelicus by Cesar Frank. The bride was in the most beautiful dress that seemed to wrap up all her beauty and emit a light through all the folds in the fabric through the festive hall of worship. And hey, I didn't look too bad either! Her wedding was one that should be envied for years to come. Such a beautiful friend I have in every way.
I got to do lots of relaxing, a bit of reading (I'm trying to read Gone With The Wind...big endeavor) and driving around my mom's zippy red car. I get up in the mornings and worry about... nothing. Any thoughts about preparing for my move to London coming up, I've managed to compartmentalise and think about later. I've discovered some new music through my brother. I've bought some new cologne. I have new slippers I got for Christmas. My mom's fridge is full all the time ( we need to buy milk tomorrow, tho).
I went up to Ruidoso, New Mexico to spend time with my aunt and aunt. I've not been to their house since they've been together so it was great to be on their turf for once. We did some karaoke one night and did a bit of shopping one day. We took it easy and spent real time together. I had a weird time on the drive up to Ruidoso where I couldn't breathe well because of the change in altitude...slightly disconcerting, but didn't last very long. I got to lie down on a specialised massage bed at the healing center where my aunt works. heaven.

Last year I wrote a not about how homesick I was...and some of you read my ramblings.

My home isn't here anymore. My home has been Cardiff for the past four years, and my home is soon to become London.

I long for family and I want to keep them close to my heart as I know our flesh will fall away quite soon, but those who love me and whom I love know my heart is filled by their support in what I am pursuing.

I've never been able to claim all the credit for the fortune that comes my way. I believe in a benevolent creator who has a great deal to do with it, but whatever that force may be has embodied itself into the kindness of my family. The support of my mother - support without knowing how or why. As the pieces of my puzzle have come together she has been there with all her strength behind me. The wisdom of my father - each pearl of advice and story of his wild past, I hope to add to as his son, carrying on his name. The legacy of my grandmother, now departed, who's challenging words of guidance will never leave my memory. The faithfulness of my two brothers - their unconditional love in the face of our occasional disagreements. All these are the dearest to me because of their direct influence on my life and the blood that binds us.

I say all this because I'm accepting that my base may always be quite far from my family. My solace comes in the wonders of technology - the telephone, the internet, the uncanny speed of the jet-aeroplane.

I know it is now time for me to return to the UK. I've been watching British television shows online for the past four hours! Great excitement awaits on the other side of the pond and in the following weeks another enormous facet of all I've dreamed of will be unveiled.


Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Press on When Midnight Strikes

Time Out Critics' Choice
**** Four Stars, Time Out, Evening Standard and Music OmH

“I am happy to say that a West End worthy show is now on at the Finborough, a snip at £13 a ticket.”
Katherine Hayes, Extra! Extra!

"This is a neat, sweet product, perfectly plausible for a run at a…West End venue"
Rogues & Vagabonds

“Rancorously diverting…Fenton Gray’s stylish production.”
Robert Shore, Time Out

“What really impresses in the evening is the unified cast.”
Richard Woulfe, UK Theatre Net

“A play...performed by a cast of twelve actors and a very competent pianist who work great as a team.”
Richard Woulfe, UK Theatre Net

“The dialogue is at its best when it’s at its bitchiest, and the songs likewise thrill most when the gloves come off."”
Robert Shore, Time Out

“It is a new musical and a new musical not derived as a spin-off from a book or film..If you (like me) have bemoaned the lack of original ideas for musicals, then you’d better go along to see it. There is plenty to enjoy.”
Richard Woulfe, UK Theatre Net

“When Midnight Strikes is a modern musical, well crafted, acted and directed.”
Katherine Hayes, Extra! Extra!

“Dialogue and songs...are snappy and clear.”
Katherine Hayes, Extra! Extra!

“This musical has a definitive Broadway look, a large ensemble cast where each member has their big number and all perform well.”
Katherine Hayes, Extra! Extra!

“Catch When Midnight Strikes at the Finborough and your faith in musicals will be renewed.”
Katherine Hayes, Extra! Extra!

“Fenton Gray’s…marshalling of such a large cast on the Finborough stage is to be applauded.”
The Stage

“When Midnight Strikes [is] original, entertaining, even exciting and hopefully heralds the dawn of a successful collaborative team.”
The Stage

“Despite this being one of the most compact venues on the London fringe, director Fenton Gray’s effective production…pulls off the trick of seeming to be a full-scale, handsomely-mounted musical.”
Adam Sheldon, Rogues and Vagabonds

"Slick, professional musical arrangements, sensitive, responsive musicianship from the MD (onstage throughout, cleverly resembling a cocktail pianist) and the superb quality of much of the singing from the cast." Adam Sheldon, Rogues and Vagabonds

“Producer Aaron Prior and his team have a transfer-ready achievement to be proud of...This is a neat, sweet product, perfectly plausible for a run at a small West End venue.” Adam Sheldon, Rogues and Vagabonds

“The Finborough, this cosiest of fringe venues, has staged another highlight of London’s exceptional 2007 musical calendar.”
Geoff Ambler,

"Nowadays new musicals are rare beasts, great new musicals, rarer still and even though a few of the songs from When Midnight Strikes will be known by those who have already enjoyed Julie Atherton’s inspiring album of Charles Miller songs “A Girl of Few Words”, sitting amidst this new story with unheard songs and a fine cast and finer comedy is a cherished and exceptional joy. “ Geoff Ambler,

“Charles Miller and Kevin Hammonds music…flows through the show with verve and vitality.”
Geoff Ambler,

"London ’s West End mainstream theatre has all but given up on the idea of the new musical. It is left to the fringe venues such as... the Finborough in Earl’s Court to encourage young writers into the genre." Michael Darvell,

“Amongst the cast of twelve are twelve great performers each making their mark.”
Geoff Ambler,

“Such passion and talent…can’t fail to brighten up Earl’s Court and the fortunate Finborough audiences.” Geoff Ambler,

“Strong women reacting against weak men in a transatlantic musical ‘comedy’: how could the West End not want it?”
Michael Darvell,

"Wai Yin Kwok’s elegant and stylish design"
Michael Darvell,

“Brimful of fresh songs, [When Midnight Strikes] gives a remarkably accurate sense of the brittle gaiety of a New Year party.”
Sarah Perry,

“The depth of character awarded each guest…gives the musical genuine warmth.”
Sarah Perry,

“The cast sings wonderfully as an ensemble...with infectious joy in the music.”
Sarah Perry,

"It is altogether a satisfying evening; of the many competent songs, there are enough truly memorable ones to occupy the journey home with humming. The dialogue has the snap and crackle of a good sitcom, and the performances are uniformly excellent. ...That some of the third-hand nonsense currently hawking its wares in the West End has audiences of thousands, and that this production sits atop a bar in Earl’s Court, in genuinely infuriating. I advise you to go and do something about it." Sarah Perry,

"When Midnight Strikes is a shining example of that all too rare breed - a brand new British musical by a composer whose name is not Lloyd Webber - crammed with original jazzy Latino inspired songs, which are paired with dialogue that positively fizzes. "
Julia Hickman, Theatreworld Internet Magazine

“This is the perfect venue for the camp over-the-topness that sets this highly energised musical on fire.”
Julia Hickman, Theatreworld Internet Magazine

" There are good performances throughout with some noticeable talents given the opportunity to shine such as Alan Winner as Greg, with the delightfully self-effacing “A Jerk Like Me”, Lorraine Graham with the melancholy actor’s lament, “Never Learned To Type” and Susan Raasay leading the company in the dramatic climax “Up In Smoke”. Emma Hatton proves she has a powerhouse voice, sustaining the dramatic integrity of “You Know How To Love Me” and Bradley Clarkson shows a satisfying level of maturity as the shy and unassuming Alex. Burlesque comedy is provided by Miles Western as the token gay guest, Bradley, and Nancy Baldwin makes her presence felt as the acerbic neighbour Murial." The Stage

“Tango beats and plaintive multi-hued jazz harmonies infuse the whole with a zest for life.”
Julia Hickman, Theatreworld Internet Magazine

“A thoroughly entertaining new musical… [which] deserves to go far.”
Julia Hickman, Theatreworld Internet Magazine

“Super-slick direction, paced at just the right tempo and length.”
Julia Hickman, Theatreworld Internet Magazine

“Fenton Gray directs with confidence and the cast is uniformly fine.”
Fiona Mountford, Evening Standard

“An enterprising producer would do well to take a closer look.”
Fiona Mountford, Evening Standard

"When Midnight Strikes offers a musical treat, albeit one for those who appreciate acerbic songs with a twist of Sondheim and an ability to smash through the thin ice of social nicety. Yet one of the many strengths of this sophisticated new show from the increasingly impressive pairing of Charles Miller and Kevin Hammonds is that the whole thing wouldn’t collapse even if the songs were removed, so well drawn are the characters." Fiona Mountford, Evening Standard

Friday, September 14, 2007

My first professional London Musical is now up and well into its run!!!

When Midnight Strikes

here are just a few reviews so far...

There are good performances throughout with some noticeable talents given the opportunity to shine such as Alan Winner as Greg, with the delightfully self-effacing A Jerk Like Me|

Wish you could all be here to see it!!!


Wednesday, August 08, 2007

At the request of my dad, here are a few reviews of my recent performances.

My review I'm most proud of was in the January/February 2007 Opera Now Magazine:

"Candide is a bizarre and wonderful hotch-potch: its hero travels round the world from Westphalia to Eldorado to Venice. On the way, characters die and come back to life and, depending on how you do your counting, there are nearly a hundred separate musical episodes. It needs a director with clear vision and a keen feel for staging, and in Welsh National Youth Opera's production, Nik Ashton proved himself to be just the man to take on this sprawling monster of a musical: 'comic operetta' as it says in the books, but nothing could be more misleading. Candide is savage: brittle with cynicism, its humour is barbed but its ending is genuinely moving.

Much depends on the actor tackling the double-role of Voltaire/Dr. Pangloss. From the start Alan Winner set the pace, differentiating beautifully between Narrator and Optimist-Philosopher both in voice and movement. He has a natural stage presence, and a confidence that suggests the theatre is his home.

A perfect performance? As near as damn it, and no allowances need be made for the young cast. Quite simply, they delivered. Thank you WNYO: this for me was one of the musical highlights of last year. - Robert Dunnett

here's a website of my most recent production's reviews...

(couldn't get the link up, and I'm late for work!)

So there's a little taster.

And if you want to see something very exciting, go to
I have recently been cast in the first professional production of "When Midnight Strikes" in London at the Finborough Theatre.

I've just finished reading the script for the first time and I'm so excited I can't begin to describe what I'm feeling!!!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Who do we love? To what extent do we love them?

I died today and you didn't come to the funeral. The last time I saw you, you made me laugh and I enjoyed our time together. The last time I saw you was more than three years ago. Did you love me when I died? Did you cry? Were you far away when my body began to fail? You knew that the end was on its way, but the clock seemed inconsistent.

What do you think will kill you? Do you think a disease will kill you as mine did? Which one? Or maybe an accident you couldn't see coming? Quickly or slowly? Pain?

I know you loved me. Its a shame you didn't call more. We would have caught up on bits of each other's lives. But we did that vicariously.

Did you cry? I hope you did. Not for me, for you.

Do you miss me now? Do you have things you wanted to say? Things left undone?

Who was at the funeral? Did my father come? My sister? Were my kids there? What music did they play?

I hope people said nice things.