📷 : Craig Topham
Aaron Gelkoff has just finished playing the role of Adrian Mole in the West End transfer of The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 3/4 at Ambassadors Theatre, and has recently recorded for BBC Radio Drama due to air early 2020. Having been acting for a number of years, Aaron’s work has included touring with Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, playing Noah in Caroline, or Change, and filming for the feature film Dagenham, which was released in the UK earlier this year. Speaking with Aaron, we talk about his role of Adrian Mole, performing in Caroline, or Change and being a child actor in the West End.
Can you tell us about playing Adrian in The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole?
It was so much fun playing Adrian! I had the best time and it was so cool to lead the show. As tiring as it was, I had lots of fun and everyone was so lovely and kind.
Can you remember how you felt finding out you’d booked the part?
I just felt shocked. I didn’t think that I would get it, and when my mum told me, I was literally so happy!
📷 : Pamela Raith
Have you read any of the Sue Townsend books or seen the Menier Chocolate Factory production and what encouraged you to audition?
I had read the first book a couple of years before, and it seemed like a really fun show to be a part of and I knew how big the role was. But no, I hadn’t seen it before.
What was the show like to be part of?
It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life! The show is so energetic and fast-paced, so Adrian doesn’t really stop.
📷 : Pamela Raith
How was the atmosphere backstage on closing night?
It was really sad. But everyone was giving it their all and the audience were absolutely incredible. You just felt that warmly vibe.
What was Noah like to play in Caroline, or Change, and how was it being part of the cast?
It was so much fun. It was like a big family. Working with Sharon D. Clarke was incredible, and she’s so talented and so kind. I was so glad she won the Olivier for it! I’m so happy the production is going to Broadway…
How long were you in this role, and do you have any favourite moments from your time in the show?
I was in this role at the Hampstead Theatre, which was a sell-out, and then later that year, it transferred to the West End for a few months as well. My favourite moment was probably meeting Tony Kushner (the writer) after he watched the show. It was so cool meeting him as the story was based on his life, so he was basically the person I was playing, so that was really interesting to speak to him about it and he told me I portrayed his character to perfection, he is really kind as well.
How was your time as Lee Carter in Son of Rambow?
That was so much fun! It was my first workshop and it is such a great show, and I hope it goes on to do amazing things in the future. Working with Miranda Cooper and Sam Hodges was incredible, and they are truly amazing people.
You played Jeremy in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, can you tell us about touring with the production?
Yes, I did. Being part of a tour is so much fun, travelling around the UK and Ireland, working in different theatres every few weeks. I’ve kept in touch with Jason Manford, and he came to watch me in Adrian, which was really nice.
📷 : Alastair Muir
How was it booking the role of Gavroche in Les Misérables?
It was just mind-blowing. I didn’t think that I would ever book a West End role. I kind of auditioned for the fun really, not expecting that I would actually get to play Gavroche. I also had a once in a lifetime experience there, which is actually quite funny… I was the first boy to fall off the barricade and ended up in A&E… the cast were shocked when I turned up for work the next day!
How did you find filming Dagenham and being on a film set?
It was cool. It was my first film and being on a film set is really interesting. It won an award for Best Foreign Film at the LA Femme Film Festival.
Are you able to tell us more about the film and your character Mark?
It’s a thriller, so it is quite rough and scary. My character, Mark, is the son of the main character Kim and gets caught up in business that is really dangerous, however, he is unaware of that and ends up getting kidnapped.
Was there anything that prompted your acting career and what was your first acting experience?
I went to a Saturday stage school and I found that really fun. I have always loved singing and acting so I decided to go to amateur dramatics and did a couple of shows with them and from then on I have always loved the theatre.
What’s it like being a child actor in a West End show?
It’s a lot of fun! But a lot of hard work so you have to love it and be fully committed to be able to do it as you have to balance schoolwork with long hours, performing and rehearsing and auditioning. My motto is to “stay humble and work hard”.
What are you currently working on and what plans do you have for the rest of the year?
I have just recently recorded a BBC Radio Drama, which comes out in January, where I play the lead role. The script is amazing so I would listen out for that. I’m going to be doing a workshop at The Other Palace in London very soon as well, which I’m very excited about!
Aaron Gelkoff is represented by Daisy and Dukes https://daisyanddukes.com
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