With Big the Musical playing a limited run at Dominion Theatre in the West End over the past few months, Noah Leggott has just finished his role as Lewis after the show’s live performance on Children in Need last week. Noah made his West End debut in 2018 as Eric in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Matilda The Musical before he joined the cast of the touring production for their final leg of the UK Tour. Along with his theatre career, Noah also works on screen, with films including The Sitter and next year’s release of Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, and can currently be seen in the NSPCC Guardian’s Wanted commercial. We recently caught up with Noah, who talks about appearing as Lewis in Big the Musical, playing Eric in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Matilda The Musical and his screen roles.
How did you find your time as Lewis in Big the Musical?
It was an amazing time, I had so much fun being in the show. I was in a team with five other children and we played Josh and Billy’s friends. It was hard work as there were only two teams of children so we would be performing every other day as well as being at school, but the cast, crew and creative team made it a real family atmosphere so I really looked forward to going every day.
I had some fantastic experiences because of BIG! I got to record vocals in a proper recording studio and perform on live TV on Children In Need 2019. Jay McGuiness (Josh Baskin) even came to our kids wrap party to sing karaoke with us.
Did you know the musical or film before being cast and how did you prepare for your role?
I watched the movie just before the final auditions. I knew Tom Hanks from Apollo 13 and Forrest Gump, both of which I love, but he looks so young in BIG. I really enjoyed the movie and was super excited that the musical stayed really close to the film – all the iconic scenes from the movie are in the show. We did five weeks of rehearsals over the summer – they were pretty intense as five weeks isn’t a lot of time to put a whole new show together, but the creative team are really talented and the children’s director Katy Osbourne was so great at making sure we were all prepared.
What was it like performing at the Dominion Theatre and how was the atmosphere backstage before your first show?
The Dominion Theatre is absolutely huge! Standing on stage in front of 2070 people each night can be pretty intimidating, but when they are all on their feet clapping, the feeling is like no other. The team at the theatre worked so hard to get the theatre ready for us as it was being refurbished over the summer, when we moved to the theatre for technical rehearsals, we had to be careful as the paint was still wet – that’s how new it was!
Opening night was insane – I was lucky enough to be in the team that both opened and closed the run, backstage we were all so excited but nervous too – we had lots of encouragement from everyone and the adult cast were great at giving us high fives and kind words just to let us know we were all in it together.
Can you tell us about being in the cast of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Matilda The Musical both in the West End and on the UK tour?
I was really lucky to play the role of Eric in both the West End and the final leg of the UK Tour, I don’t think there are many children who have been lucky enough to do both. The Royal Shakespeare Company’s Matilda The Musical is a really iconic musical, it’s won tons of awards, and eight years into its West End run, it’s still so popular. I think it’s the one musical every kid would love to be in so to be cast twice in the London and UK productions was a huge honour for me.
I was also really lucky to be cast alongside a great cast of other children and adults. Our London cast get together regularly and we love to support each other in new projects. I went to watch our Mrs Phelps – Malinda Parris – as Mrs Corry in Mary Poppins recently. We love to see what everyone goes on to do.
What do you remember about booking the show for your West End debut?
My mum woke me up to tell me! The email came quite late saying I’d got the role but I’d made her promise to tell me straight away so I remember being woken up with the news and then trying to get back to sleep for ages because I was so excited. I think we found out in May and rehearsals started in July, so it felt like forever waiting to begin.
My West End debut night I was really nervous – Eric has the very first line of the show so I knew I couldn’t mess up, which was loads of pressure, thankfully, it all went brilliantly.
How different did you find touring opposed to being in London?
The shows have slight differences so I had to learn new choreography for the tour which meant having to go back to rehearsals once I left the West End. Touring meant I would be away from home for four days a week which was hard at first as I missed my family but we had lots of fun staying in hotels, and the chaperones were really fun and cool. I went to Bradford, Edinburgh, Bristol, Southampton and Norwich, and I’d never been to any of them before so it was great to go to new towns and cities.
You’ve done commercial work; can you tell us about a couple you have filmed?
I am in the current NSPCC Guardian’s Wanted commercial. It shows a boy falling from the sky and a woman catching him – symbolising how grown-ups can catch and help children who need it. This commercial was amazing to film, I got to do stunts which involved hanging from a crane by wires and a harness and jumping from a scissor lift about 20ft up into a skip filled with foam blocks.
The day we filmed this it was really snowing, minus five degrees, and we were on an airfield in the middle of nowhere – whenever I came down from the crane, lots of people would pile coats and blankets on me and stand over me with heaters until they could disconnect all the lines and I could get into shelter. It was so cold but doing all the stunts was so cool, I didn’t mind.
I’ve also filmed a Santander commercial with Jessica Ennis-Hill, we filmed inside the English Institute of Sport and had to film that we were hurdling in a race. Jessica was really lovely, she stayed and had pictures with us all.
What did you enjoy most about filming as Young Jamie New in the Everybody’s Talking About Jamie film?
Jamie is such an iconic role, I’m absolutely thrilled to have been offered the chance to play Jamie for a short while. I loved filming, I was really sad it had to come to an end. Getting to meet the real Jamie and Margaret, on whom the musical is loosely based on, was amazing. They watched me film a scene between Jamie and his dad, and both of them got quite emotional, which I hope was a sign that we were doing something right.
I also enjoyed being able to see the sets, it was strange to walk through and see real photos of me when I was younger – production had used lots of pictures of me taken through the years and would put them in places like the fireplace, Jamie’s bedroom and the fridge in the kitchen. Hugo’s shop was my favourite set – I never got to shoot in there but loved seeing it.
There was a scene that involved a rain machine and that was tough – the water was so cold and myself and Ralph (Ineson) had to stand under it for ages, so glad I only had to do that on one day.
What was it like meeting the cast and the production team for the first time?
It was so exciting, When I went to my audition with Jonathan Butterell, he was so lovely and spent a long time talking to me and my mum about the movie and what they wanted the role of young Jamie to be, I also got to meet some of the production team then, they were all really kind to me. The first person I met on set was Ralph Ineson, who plays my dad in the movie – I actually recognised his voice first as he does lots of commercial voiceovers that I’ve heard.
Max Harwood, who plays Jamie when he is older, was absolutely amazing – he was so nice to me. He’d spend lots of time talking to me and helping me with the scenes we were in. He’s such a great actor I watched a couple of his scenes and he was so good. He also came to watch me in BIG! with Cat Marshall, who is an associate producer on Jamie too.
Sarah Lancashire (Margaret) and Shobna Gulati (Ray) were also lots of fun and really nice to me.
You filmed a short movie called The Sitter, what can you say about it and your character Tommy?
Tommy is a young boy whose mum goes out one night leaving him with the babysitter. Tommy is a bit of a troubled character and unfortunately his sitter gets dragged into a horrible situation.
How long were you filming and how did you find the experience?
The film was all actually shot and edited in twenty-four hours initially – it was part of a twenty-four-hour challenge film festival where the film all has to be shot, edited and complete in no more than twenty-four hours. Once the festival was over, we then filmed some additional scenes and audio dialogue to make the film a little longer with a couple of added scenes. This film was then released to other film festivals and was lucky enough to win some awards.
What musicals have you seen that you’ve enjoyed recently?
Obviously, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is definitely my favourite – Layton Williams is amazing as Jamie, I’m hoping to see it again when it comes to Sheffield next year as I think it’ll be amazing to watch in its hometown.
SIX is amazing, it’s so funny and the songs are really catchy – it also helps with my history homework.
Hamilton is also one of my favourites – King George is my favourite character; his part is really funny.
How and when did you get into acting?
I started out modelling and did this from being a baby, I then moved into commercials a few years later. I started acting classes and projects when I was around seven, and have been really lucky over the years.
What training have you done and what do you enjoy doing away from acting?
I train with The Attic Theatre School and have done LAMDA exams. Away from acting, I love trampolining and when I’m not in shows or filming, do six hours a week training.
What are your upcoming plans for the next few months?
I’m back auditioning. My agency, Vivienne Clore, have been keeping me busy in that department, so I am hoping another project will be on the horizon, but in the meantime, a rest and perhaps a holiday would be nice.
Noah Leggott is represented by David Lazenby at Vivienne Clore http://www.vivienneclore.com
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Categories: home, Interview, Young Performers
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