For his first professional role, Christian Tyler-Wood starred in Jersey Boys, and has recently finished playing Declan in the American Idiot 10th Anniversary UK Tour, where he also covered the roles of Will and St Jimmy. Last year, Christian performed at the Hope Mill Theatre in the award-winning production of Spring Awakening, and workshopped new musical Billionaire Boy, both of which were directed by Luke Sheppard. Catching up with Christian, he tells us about appearing in American Idiot, workshopping Billionaire Boy and touring internationally with Jersey Boys.
What was it like being in the cast of the 10th Anniversary UK Tour of American Idiot?
It was an absolute dream to be a part of the show, especially such a milestone tour. The show itself was hugely physical, and having never really considered myself a dancer, I saw it as a huge challenge which was great to rise to.
Which roles did you get chance to cover while touring and who was your character, Declan?
I covered the roles of Will and St Jimmy, I got to go on as Will quite a few times too which was a lot of fun, especially getting to do all of the guitar bits! Declan is a new ensemble track to this production that was added for this tour as everything was bigger; a bigger set and three new cast members! Getting to create new choices and find completely new things for the new track was a very cool process.
Had you listened to Green Day’s music before being cast and how was it performing the soundtrack?
Green Day have always been my favourite band, I’ve actually seen them live seven times, so getting to perform their music as part of a job was unreal.
How different was this tour opposed to your previous role in the production for Performance Preparation Academy (PPA)?
It was a much bigger scale production and they were very different!
What was it like performing at Hope Mill Theatre in Spring Awakening?
I loved every second of Spring Awakening, it was such a beautiful production to be a part of and in such a beautiful venue as well. It was my third time doing the show and my third different role actually! So, in sixth form, I played Hanschen, in third year of PPA, I played Moritz, and then I played Georg at the Hope Mill. My track was a lot of fun as I got to play piano and guitar on top of everything else. It was also great to see everyone again at the WhatsOnStage Awards where the show picked up the award for Best Regional Production after we performed, I’ll always have a special place in my heart for this show.
What do you enjoy most about being in a rock musical?
Rock music has always been a huge part of my life, so to get to incorporate that into what I do for a living is pretty great!
Last year you were part of the workshop for Billionaire Boy, what was this like to do?
It was awesome to be part of creating a brand new musical, especially with such a funny book. It was a lot of fun and Luke Sheppard is a genius, this was my third time working with him and seeing how his brain works is wonderful! The show itself was a lot of fun and everyone in the company was great to work with.
Can you tell us about playing Joe Pesci in the Jersey Boys World Tour and did you perform at any events while in the cast?
This was another absolute dream. I remember the first time I saw Jersey Boys I thought, I want to play that role when I finish drama school. So to actually get to do it was awesome. I also covered the role of Frankie Valli which for a first job was more than I could have ever asked for, anyone that knew me before and during drama school knows how much I loved that show, so getting to do it and cover such an iconic role really was very special. During the rehearsal period, the Frankies got to have a Skype session with Bob Gaudio (one of the original Four Seasons) and he said that I was ‘The Man’ which I’m quite proud of!
Yes, we did actually! We performed on the CCTV New Year’s Gala event which was broadcast to 700 million people.
Where did you tour with this role and what was the experience like travelling internationally?
We opened in Dubai, my parents live out in the Middle East for my dad’s job and I don’t get to see them that often, but having them there on opening night was so lovely! We also went all over China which is somewhere I never thought I would get the opportunity to go to. I learnt a lot on that tour, and I got to go to the brand new Disneyland Shanghai (four times) so that was worth the trip alone!
How do you prepare for setting off on a tour?
First thing’s first, the PlayStation gets wrapped up and put in the suitcase, Nintendo Switch in hand luggage, I have my priorities! The main thing about tour prep for me is just looking after myself and making sure I have enough of what I know gets me through when I’m not well. I always have my nebuliser and a lot of manuka honey in my suitcase.
You’ve previously performed in pantomime, what are these like to do?
Full on! The performing schedule tends to be a lot more demanding than your average touring schedule with a lot of two show days. It is an odd experience really as it’s often a very short rehearsal period and then the next week you are running around on your knees as a dwarf next to Joe Pasquale. I’m very lucky to have worked for Qdos both times I’ve done panto and they really looked after us.
What was your first job after graduating from PPA and do you remember how you felt when booking the role?
Other than panto, Jersey Boys was my first job after graduating. I booked it while I was still in third year, and when I got the call, I didn’t really react that much because I couldn’t quite believe it! I remember calling my mum and she cried and nearly deafened me down the phone!
When did you first get involved in musical theatre?
I got involved a lot later than a lot of people I know who started dancing at a really young age. I was first and foremost a musician growing up, I started the piano when I was four, then took up percussion and played with the National Children’s Orchestra, then picked up a guitar, then the bass and that was my childhood really. I was always taken to shows by my parents and I loved going to the theatre. I also played Oliver in my Year 2 school play, my teacher still takes all the credit for what I’ve done since!
The real turning point was when I was fifteen, the school musical that year was Jesus Christ Superstar, a show I absolutely adored and still do. I suddenly got really sick that year and ended up in hospital with meningitis, I set myself the deadline of the auditions for JCS to get better by, it motivated me, I got better, I did the audition and I got the role of Jesus. That show made me think, yeah okay this is great, so I joined the local theatre school Big Little, met a lot of cool people and learned a lot about the industry and it all went from there really!
What are your current and upcoming acting plans?
I am focusing on my music at the moment and really enjoying writing, as well as gigging all over the place. It’s a very interesting industry in that you just can’t predict what is or isn’t coming!
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