With previews starting this week, the Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch is to be home for the next month to the regional professional premiere production of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. We speak to the actor reviving his West End role of Bernadette …
‘Priscilla, Queen of the Desert’ is famous both as a film and as a stage show. How and when did you first come across the story?
Not long after its release. I’ve always been a fan of Australian cinema since seeing ‘The Year my Voice Broke’. Priscilla fast became a favourite.
You are reviving the role of Bernadette having first performed it nine years ago in the West End. Did you ever hope or imagine that you would get a chance to return to the part?
It’s been a dream to return to this role, it’s one of my favourites. To be involved in this exciting reimagining of the show, I’m finding a lot more depth and new ways of playing the wonderful script.
How different will Bernadette be this time around, if at all?
She’s essentially the same classy, quick witted, sensitive lady but it’s just the subtleties and nuances that are enhancing her character.
What’s been the highlight of rehearsals so far?
Working with my first actor / musician company. I’m in awe of their fantastic talent!
What is your favourite part of the process of putting a play onstage?
Often with a musical, the sitzprobe is a highlight of rehearsals, but with this production every day is a sitzprobe as the instrumental accompaniment has to be integrated as we go along.
Did you always know you wanted to be an actor?
No. I trained as a geologist. But gained a lot of amateur experience at university.
You predominantly work in theatre. Is it your favourite medium to work in, and if so why?
Yes it is, I love the live experience and the challenges of achieving my best possible performance for every new audience.
Is there a dream role you would love to play?
I would love to play Sweeney Todd.
What do you think the role of theatre is in our society today?
Predominantly to entertain and provide an escape for the audience. But also to challenge and educate.
Do you have any advice for young or emerging actors or creatives more generally?
Just listen to advice, always be open to learn. Be confident in your own strengths and abilities.
Finally, what are you most excited about in this upcoming production?
I’m excited to see the reaction to what I know is a very wonderful new version of this joyful show.
Mark was talking to Amelia Brown
Photography courtesy Queen’s Theatre
Priscilla, Queen of the Desert
Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch
27th April to 26th May