After playing Alternate Strat in West End’s Bat Out of Hell, Jordan Luke Gage took over the lead role permanently until the show closed earlier this year. This Saturday, Jordan will be performing as part of MT Fest UK’s Night Cap events and is working on his upcoming production of new musical & Juliet playing the role of Romeo when it opens in Manchester ahead of a London West End transfer. Jordan took time out of his busy schedule to talk about playing the lead role of Strat, making his West End debut in Bat Out of Hell and his career plans for the next few months.
How was it making your West End debut in Bat Out of Hell at the Dominion Theatre?
It honestly exceeded anything I could ever have imagined. I felt connected with the show as soon as I read the script and heard the soundtrack for my first audition. To be making my West End debut in such an effervescent show with music from my favourite era felt like a dream come true.
Can you tell us what it was like playing the lead role of Strat?
Playing Strat was hands down the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my life. But also the best thing I’ve ever done. It was so physically and vocally demanding that I had to put other things in my life aside for a while but I didn’t mind because the thrill I got each night was honestly unexplainable. I always wanted to give every ounce of my energy each night as such an iconic role deserves nothing less, so I would finish each show feeling like I had just run a marathon. It was the absolute highlight of my life.
Before playing the role full-time, you were the Alternate Strat, what was the experience like taking over the role?
It was a big jump in terms of the strain on my body and voice but being able to play the Alternate for a few months first allowed me to build my stamina before I took over the role. In some ways, playing Strat each night was easier than playing him once or twice a week as it was already in my physical being and so I was just staying in the same constant mindset rather than having sometimes a whole week between playing him. On the other hand, it was strenuous mentally to be in that headspace for so many months as it is such an intense role that it became my whole life. I wouldn’t have changed it for the world though.
What did you enjoy most about playing the character?
I love Strat’s total lack of self-consciousness. Nothing scares him – he’s daring, adventurous, spontaneous and fearless which actually rubbed off a lot on me as a person. He’s also very funny without knowing that he’s funny which was endearing. Ultimately, he is a character with a huge heart who is fiercely loyal and will stand up for what’s right without ever being violent. All qualities I think everyone would be happy to have.
How was the atmosphere on closing night and how different was it performing on your last show?
The closing performance was probably the single most enjoyable performance I’ve ever done of anything. The atmosphere was electric and the auditorium was filled with so much love and emotion. I found it difficult in parts to hold it together as I was very emotional on that last performance. I think it suddenly hit me that I was saying goodnight to this experience which had changed my life and to a character who is so distinctly unique that I found it to be an overwhelming show. Performing the title song for the last time was like ripping my heart out of my chest and leaving it on the stage because I had nothing left inside me to give.
What was the musical like to work on?
The whole process was a joy, the creative team moulded such a spectacular theatrical experience and my fellow cast members were always full of energy and love each night.
Bat Out of Hell performed at BBC Proms in the Park, how was this performance?
The Proms performance was incredible. A crowd of 30,000 people and television viewers watching us perform with the exceptional BBC Orchestra performing behind us was a thrill. It also marked the end of my first week as Strat so what a way to celebrate!
What do you remember from your time as Marilyn in Taboo?
I remember the pure joy I felt to be involved in such an important story. The topics of domestic violence, gay rights, queer art and, ultimately, the celebration of life was so fulfilling each night. Working with Boy George and getting an insight into his life was like stepping into a time portal. Marilyn was a complex character and wasn’t a particularly likeable character because of his rivalry with Boy George, but I learnt a lot being able to play a factual character who was damaged and grittier than I was used to.
Was there anything that inspired you to get into theatre work?
To be honest, it’s always been the only constant in my life which I am passionate about. There was never anything else while I was growing up that I could even compare to the thrill I would get from performing. My parents would take me and my sister to see a West End show once a year on Christmas Eve and this was a big treat for us as we didn’t have a lot of money when I was young. Every time I would see something it would affect me for so long afterwards that I realised this was a path that perhaps I was destined to take.
You’ve previously worked in TV in shows such as Cilla, would you like to do more screen work?
Yes, I would love to do some more TV and film work. It’s a completely different ball game to theatre and I think I will always class myself as a theatre actor foremost but I do enjoy the buzz you get from being on set and then moving location to film the next scene. It’s a different kind of buzz to being on stage. On stage, you have one take to get it right because it’s live and there’s an audience watching so that’s the thrill but on set you have multiple takes to get it right.
Can you tell us about your Night Cap at The Other Palace?
Yes, my Night Cap takes place on the 23rd February and is basically a relaxed chat on the sofa with me and the lovely Paul Taylor-Mills. It will be far from a formal event – I’ll be talking about my life and sharing some stories in-between singing some of my favourite songs. All the good vibes!
Do you have any career plans for the next few months you can say about?
I’m currently doing some workshops and concerts and then I am going travelling around South East Asia for a couple of months. In the summer, I start my next adventure, creating the role of Romeo for the new Max Martin musical & Juliet which opens at the Manchester Opera House before transferring to the West End’s Shaftesbury Theatre. It’s a really exciting show and I know the audiences are going to be amazed when they see these iconic songs being brought into the musical theatre world with a spin on one of the most famous plays in history, Romeo and Juliet.
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