Having joined the cast of the West End transfer of The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole earlier this year, Jack Gale played the role of Barry and also had to learn puppeteering for taking on the part of Adrian’s dog. Jack made his West End debut as James in School of Rock before later taking on the role of Billy, and during his time with the show, performed with the rest of the cast on Children in Need. We sat down with Jack recently to find out about playing Barry in Adrian Mole, making his West End debut in School of Rock and the advice he would give children wanting an acting career.
How was your experience in The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole as Barry?
I loved the acting part of it. I got to play a really mean character and I really liked that there was a softer side to him. I also liked that I didn’t just play Barry, I also did the dog and the priest. I loved having the rap because it showed that I couldn’t just sing certain types of songs.
How was it learning to puppeteer the dog?
It was hard at times, like when we had to turn corners because I had to make it look like the dog was actually turning a corner. I based the dog on my dog. It used to get really hot in the summer in the duffle coat.
What was it like working with the rest of the cast and those involved with the production?
I was excited to work with Jeremiah (Waysome) again after School of Rock, and it was nice working with him and Rebecca (Nardin) because we train together. It was really exciting to work with Rosemary Ashe because I love The Phantom of the Opera and she was in the Original Cast. It was great to work with all of the talented adult actors and I really liked working with Lara Denning because she was really kind to me and we danced in the wings!
Do you have a favourite moment from your time in the show?
I liked meeting Pearl Mackie on Gala Night. I met the writers of The Prince of Egypt – Philip LaZebnik and Stephen Schwartz – and they said they enjoyed my performance! I also really liked the first night of the run.
What was it like joining the cast of School of Rock as James, and then being cast as Billy?
I was very excited because I found out I’d got the role on my dad’s birthday! I was so pleased I’d got in as it was my dream. It was just before Christmas so it was like an early Christmas present, and time went quick before rehearsals. I remember walking up Parker Street on my first day and having some of the continuing cast members call out asking who I was and what character I was playing. They were all really welcoming to me! JoAnn M Hunter came to rehearsals which was great. She gave me some excellent tips and feedback and it was great to meet her.
My first show was great fun but I was nervous. We had a party afterwards! After Easter, we were asked if we wanted to stay on for another contract and if we’d like to try for a new role. I auditioned for Billy. It was amazing when I found out I’d booked the role, but I was also sad as some of my friends were leaving. I felt very proud that they felt I was good enough. I really enjoyed my first show as Billy as it was Jake Sharp’s first show as Dewey Finn.
Can you tell us more about the two characters and how each were to play?
You have to play Billy in a certain way, so with James, I had a bit more freedom because he’s not as noticed as Billy as he’s more of an ensemble member. I loved playing James, I characterised him as a confident person and not one to be messed with. I loved my Dr. Martens with the yellow laces!
Billy has some great lines and I loved having a solo. I loved showing both sides of his character – the sassy school kid and the sad, angry son.
What did you find the most challenging aspect of being in the production?
Tiredness, and having a full schedule when still going to school. When I was cast as Billy, I rehearsed during the day as him, and then performed as James at night, so it was full on but I loved it. I had to remember both roles and make sure I didn’t get confused. On my first show as Billy, I was really nervous as I didn’t want to go into James mode! I was rehearsing during the summer and then the next summer I was in Adrian Mole.
Did you get chance to perform at any events while in the role?
I performed on Children in Need. We weren’t performing songs from School of Rock, we were performing pop songs. It was hard work as when we weren’t performing on stage, we were rehearsing for Children in Need. It was really good because a couple of my friends from the last cast were called back. I was very excited to go to Elstree and everyone there was so lovely, I also got to meet some celebrities!
How different did you find performing in School of Rock to Adrian Mole?
There are less kids in Adrian Mole, we only had four in a team, and with School of Rock there were twelve in a team. Everyone was friends in Adrian Mole, but with School of Rock, there might be a few you don’t know as well because there were thirty-six kids overall. There was also a larger adult cast in School of Rock so I am closer to the adults in Adrian Mole. Also, I was in Adrian Mole from the start so I rehearsed with all of the cast members.
You performed as Young Don Lockwood in Singin’ in the Rain, can you tell us about it?
It was quite a small part but it was really fun at the same time. I was really inspired by the male adults because they could tap dance really well. I loved the rain in the finale.
Was there anything that inspired your acting career?
A lot of it was The Phantom of the Opera. My sister was at our local drama group, Starlight Stars, and I really wanted to go when I was three years old. After I did my first showcase with them, I wanted to do even more! My teachers, Alex and Ali, really encouraged me as they saw something in me and suggested that I went for my first amateur dramatic show, Oliver!, when I was seven. I got in and I loved it! They then recommended my local theatre group called HDOS because they do a show every year, so they suggested that I went for them and I really enjoyed them.
What advice would you give children wanting an acting career and don’t know where to start?
You don’t need to go to a big drama school because I just attended my local group. Give amateur dramatics a try and see what it’s like to rehearse and then perform. Try and get a good agent (I’m lucky to have Adelle Moss from AM Kids) and they should be good at getting you work and caring for you while you’re working. Keep training and get a good acting coach – I’m with DMA, run by Dominique Moore. If you feel uncomfortable about auditioning for something, you don’t have to go for it. Also, if you get knocked back and they say no, don’t take it to heart, don’t let it get to you because there are other things out there.
Do you have a favourite part of performing?
Singing and acting. It also really fascinates me how the stage works, like if there’s a revolve or the stage moves or goes down.
You recently attended & Juliet, why would you recommend it?
It’s good for those that don’t like musical theatre because it’s got modern pop songs. The singing is amazing and the songs line up really well. It’s funny and clever, and the set and costumes are amazing.
Now Adrian Mole has finished, what plans do you have?
I’ve had a few auditions and I’m still training with Dominique Moore. I’m now catching up with friends and seeing the musicals I wanted to see when I was performing!
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