📷 : Johan Persson
Appearing as Matt in Tim Firth’s This Is My Family, currently running at Chichester’s Minerva Theatre, Scott Folan is performing to sold out audiences every night where the show continues until 15th June. Scott has also had many roles on screen including the upcoming film Blinded by the Light and, as a singer-songwriter, has released his own music on streaming sites. Meeting up with Scott ahead of the final preview night, he speaks about being in the cast of This Is My Family, playing at the Minerva Theatre and releasing original music.
How long were you in rehearsals for This Is My Family?
I want to say about four weeks in London and then we moved to Chichester about two and a half weeks ago and we’ll finish tech today. Our final preview is today, then we’ve got two non-preview shows tomorrow and then press night on Monday, which is a bit scary!
For those that don’t know the show, can you say more about it?
It’s a show about family life, it’s everybody’s family, it doesn’t matter what background you have, how many people are in your family or what your situation is with your parents, everyone can relate to the show because it’s so beautifully written, Tim Firth’s a genius. It’s weird because you go away going, ‘this is my family’, then you realise you’ve said the name of the show and it’s beautiful.
Can you tell us about your character Matt?
He’s a goth at the beginning, he’s with his girlfriend Rachel, who he’s obsessed with, but he’s just a typical teenager having arguments with his parents and shouting at his sister.
📷 : Johan Persson
What was it like getting into character for the first time?
Weird because I didn’t realise how similar he was to me as a seventeen-year-old. I was never a goth, I didn’t go through a goth stage, but I went through stages as a teenager, things I look back on and think ‘I’m never doing that again’. The way Matt speaks to his parents is so similar to how I spoke to my parents at seventeen, and it really makes you think about things. I went home after the second day of rehearsals to my parents and said I loved them and missed them.
How different is Matt to play to your previous roles?
The last thing I did was a film called Blinded by the Light, where I played a slightly racist nerd who was a newspaper editor in a school. I think it was set in the 1980s in Luton, so it was a very different character. This role is very different because I had my hair dyed black and for Blinded by the Light I had my hair dip dyed with frosted tips, so this is the opposite, I was wearing very nerdy glasses for that role and I’ve taken my glasses off for this show. I like this one better because I was on set of the film for three days but I’ve been here for six weeks now and I feel like I’ve really dipped into my character. I haven’t done it in six years and it’s been nice to get back into it.
How did the first performance of This Is My Family go?
It went really well. We actually thought it would go really badly because we had our dress rehearsal on the Friday night which, as dress rehearsals go, wasn’t the best, and then we bucked up our ideas. The next dress rehearsal went much better so the more you do it, the better it gets. The audience were really nice.
What’s it like being part of this cast?
Amazing. The four ladies are in one dressing room and James Nesbitt and I in the other. Jimmy (Nesbitt) is probably one of the funniest people I’ve ever met. Clare Burt, who plays my mother, is the greatest human on the planet, Kirsty MacLaren is so talented and Sheila Hancock’s a legend. She’s absolutely incredible, so talented, so hardworking, always changing and developing, which is inspirational to watch. Rachel (Lumberg) is amazing, she just came off a three-year run of The Band that Tim Firth also wrote. They’re all amazing.
Do you have a favourite scene or song from the production?
I do but I don’t want to ruin it. My favourite song is in the second half between my mum and dad and I stand backstage. They’re both so incredible at what they do that I just want to cry, firstly because it’s so good, and secondly because Tim Firth’s writing is so good. You’ll have to come and see it but it’s the scene between them two at the end.
Did you know Tim Firth’s work before booking the show?
I didn’t know this musical but I read the script before I auditioned and I desperately wanted it because it’s so good. I’d love to watch a production of it and I love being in it. I was aware of Tim’s work because he wrote Calendar Girls, which I auditioned for. I got a lovely email from them saying I wasn’t quite right for that role but they couldn’t wait to cast me in something else, and here we are in This Is My Family.
📷 : Johan Persson
Is this your first time playing at this venue?
Yes, I’ve never actually been to the town of Chichester. I’m only nineteen so I’ve just finished school and my A-Levels in August. I did a workshop and then I got this, so this is my second real job after finishing college and deciding not to go to drama school. It’s an incredible job, the staff are amazing, and everyone involved cares about it so much. The hair and makeup team are always on it. There’s a five-minute quick change from white t-shirt to full goth up and down, it’s amazing. I’ve got two people doing my boots, a person doing my belt, someone’s doing my face, my coat’s being held up for me and I just slip into it, and then I go onstage. It’s amazing and great fun, I love it.
What drew you to become a stage actor?
My dad is a musical theatre composer, he’s absolutely incredible, so that’s probably what got me into musical theatre. My mum used to do am-dram and brought me to a rehearsal of Fiddler on the Roof that they were doing. Apparently, I asked to be in it so they just walked me across the back for a few shows. I did Oliver as the first proper show I did when I was seven and I loved it. I started to think that I could probably do this as a career and it’s weird because now I am. It’s odd when those dreams you come up with as a kid and you’re like ‘that’s never going to happen’ do actually happen, and you’re at Chichester Festival Theatre going ‘what am I doing here?’.
What do you remember from your first musical theatre role?
My first professional musical theatre role is this but it’s more a play with music. My first professional stage job was with the National Theatre in a play called Damned by Despair. I was a shepherd boy and it was in the Olivier Theatre. I walked from the back down to the middle of the aisle and sang. This is my scariest memory because I had an earpiece in but it only started kicking in halfway down so I was going in completely blind.
Is there anything you enjoy most about being cast in a musical theatre production?
Singing. Also, there’s a point where it rains in this show and the tech is incredible. I’m not in the first rain scene but I do have to come in and look like I have been in the rain so I’m sprayed down backstage with the hose. I stand there thinking, ‘this is my job, this is what I get paid for every day’. I love it, I wouldn’t change it.
What do you enjoy doing away from acting?
I’m also a singer-songwriter so I love that, that’s hopefully my second job, but at the same time it’s just a pastime. I love it and what I don’t like about it is the business side of it, so I just do it for fun. When I’m not acting, I’m writing or recording, writing with other people and for other people, and also singing. Another thing I do is play Xbox.
Where have you released music?
I have music on Spotify, iTunes and all that stuff. I have an EP which I released last year and then I have a single that I released in January. I also have a YouTube channel with other songs that I haven’t put out on Spotify, so I’m just releasing for fun.
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