With Bat Out of Hell having closed in the West End earlier this month, Barney Wilkinson was in the cast at the Dominion Theatre as Hoffman, and he covered the leading role of Strat. For his professional debut, Barney was in the UK & International Tour of Sunset Boulevard, performing alongside a cast including Ria Jones, and he graduated from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in 2017. Barney is currently in rehearsals for the Toronto production of The Last Ship, which features original music and lyrics by Sting, where he will be playing Young Gideon. Catching up with Barney, he tells us about playing Hoffman and understudy Strat in Bat Out of Hell, making his professional debut in Sunset Boulevard and his upcoming role of Young Gideon in The Last Ship.
You have been announced to play Young Gideon in The Last Ship in Toronto, have the rehearsals started yet and how are they going?
Yes, they have! Going well so far, it’s a class show. I’m so happy to be a part of it.
Will this be your first time performing overseas?
No. I was lucky enough to go to Amsterdam and Italy with Sunset Boulevard! I cannot WAIT to go to Canada!
Last year, you joined the cast of Bat Out of Hell at the Dominion Theatre, what was it like having this show as your West End debut?
Incredible. I will never forget it.
What did you enjoy most about being cast as Hoffman?
The workout of doing All Revved Up every night!
You were also understudy to the lead character Strat, how did it feel performing in this role for the first time?
Unbelievable. I loved every single second of it. The chance to sing those songs alongside the rest of the cast was amazing!
How did it feel playing Strat for your last performance as the character?
Again, it felt amazing as I didn’t have to save any energy to do it again so I could go full steam ahead!
How long did you spend in rehearsals for your roles?
I had about three weeks to learn the role of Strat first and then I learnt the ensemble as I went along. I was put into each number until I was eventually in the whole show!
What was the atmosphere like on the musical’s closing night?
Unfortunately, I caught a bug/virus and missed the last night. I was gutted. But it looked like an incredible night.
How did you find the experience touring with Sunset Boulevard and was this your first professional stage role?
It was my first job and I loved every second of it. I learned a hell of a lot. Especially from the superstar that is Ria Jones. What a legend!
How long were you touring for?
I was on tour for nine months!
Have you had any unplanned or funny moments whilst on stage?
My most recent was in Bat Out of Hell. There’s a pool on the stage and it was exposed for the entire show (about 4/5ft deep) and the first thing the director said to me was, “just don’t fall in that pool, no one has done it yet”.
I fell in the pool.
During the song, You Took The Words Right Out of My Mouth, I did a backward roll and slipped and fell straight into the pool. Much to the delight of the rest of the cast and the audience!
You graduated from Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in 2017, how did you find your time there?
Amazing. It was some of the best three years of my life. I had an absolute blast and met some friends for life.
Had you always wanted to be a theatre actor?
No, not really. I was never really 100% on what I wanted to be but a series of events and getting involved in amateur dramatics when I was about seventeen made me realise I wanted to be an actor!
Was there anything that drew you to musical theatre?
Not particularly. I guess I just enjoyed doing it!
Do you have any future roles booked as yet that you can say about?
Nope! We’ll just have to wait and see.
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