For his professional and West End debut, Noah Thomas has been cast as Jamie New in Everybody’s Talking About Jamie at the Apollo Theatre, with his run starting in January this year, but with all theatres closed until further notice, the show is currently on hold, and last year he attended the Anti Bullying Pro Awards with Jamie Campbell, who the musical is inspired by. Noah trained at The BRIT School and Mountview, and while training, his credits included playing Nicely-Nicely Johnson in Guys and Dolls and performing at the Royal Albert Hall with Magic at the Musicals. Speaking with Noah, he tells us about joining the cast of Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, making his professional and West End debut as Jamie New and attending the Anti Bullying Pro Awards last year.
How does it feel having Jamie New in Everybody’s Talking About Jamie as your West End and professional debut?
It feels very surreal and overwhelming at times, but I get so much out of doing this show. I have to remind myself a lot how this experience is unlike anything else I’ve ever done before and to take each day as it comes.
How long after auditioning did you find out you’d booked the role, and do you remember the moment you heard?
My audition process was extremely unusual – in that I found out I got the role in the room. I only auditioned twice, and they were both done in two days. Our wonderful director, Jonathan Butterell, put me out of my misery straight away by offering me the part, and that was another surreal moment.
What was it like joining the cast earlier this year at the Apollo Theatre?
It was such a wonderful experience as I got to join the company with some new powerhouse performers whilst being so welcomed by the company members staying on from the previous year. We all connected immediately, and those people are a very special bunch with ridiculous amounts of talent and work ethic. I miss them immensely as we are so used to being in each other’s pockets every day, but we will be reunited very soon.
Can you say how you prepared to play Jamie and what was it like performing your first show?
The rehearsal process was unlike any other I had gone through. At drama school, we are taught to research as much as we can about the factual side of the script – for this show, I did none of that. It was so much about creating my own interpretation of Jamie through our wonderful script and score, and very little research was needed as I was playing someone close to my own age within a piece set in the present day. The most preparation came from rehearsing the scenes with my fellow actors, getting the music and choreography into my body, and walking in 6-inch heels.
The first show is honestly a blur. The most I can remember was coming off stage at the very end and seeing our Resident Choreographer Tara (Young) in tears, saying how proud she was and Johnnie the director telling me that he was ready for us to “take the roof off this place”. I cannot remember a single moment of the actual performance, other than that it went very quickly.
How was the experience at your first press night?
Fortunately, I remember this night really well! The audience was electric and laughed louder than any crowd we had up to that point. What I enjoyed most about it was that we had all really found our flow and gotten into a good rhythm, so the nerves weren’t as gargantuan as they were the first night. I had about ten friends in the audience as well, so all I wanted to do afterwards was squeeze them all.
You booked the role whilst still at Mountview Academy, how has it been leading a West End show while in your third year of training?
Mountview were very encouraging of letting me finish my studies early in order to take up the role. They have been nothing but supportive and always kept their door open. Whether that be to attend class or catch up with tutors, they have been wonderful in this big transitional period.
What does it feel like seeing yourself on the boards outside the theatre?
Again, another very odd experience. I think the first time I saw the marquee outside the theatre was on the first night and I was so nervous. I hadn’t slept very well and had to be at the theatre very early, so it all felt like a bit of a daze. Seeing it every now and again when I’m on the tube or walking around Soho is very odd but never fails to make me chuckle.
Last year you attended the Anti Bullying Pro Awards with Jamie Campbell for The Diana Award, how was this?
It was such a great night for many reasons. It was the first time Jamie Campbell and I met, so it felt very right that we do it in style. The night itself was so inspiring as we were surrounded by so many wonderful young philanthropists and activists who were really making changes in their communities. Everything from increasing opportunities for girls in their schools, to environmental causes and raising money for grassroots organisations. The work being done by the next generation is remarkable, and we felt so lucky to be involved as a show.
Were you given any advice before making your professional debut and what do you feel you’ve learnt from your time in the show so far?
The advice I treasured most was from the wonderful Hiba Elchikhe, who is my Pritti Pasha and guidance counsellor through all this. We both had the exact same training journey at The BRIT School then Mountview, and when we met first met, we got on like a house on fire. She always reminds me of how much I have achieved and to really go forth in the direction of my goals whilst being a nice human being.
You appeared in a few shows while at Mountview, most recently Guys and Dolls as Nicely-Nicely Johnson, can you say about some of them?
Guys and Dolls was an experience, to say the least. It was the first musical in the swanky new Cameron Mackintosh Theatre at Mountview, so the pressure was on. The rehearsal process was equally intense and joyful as I got to do it with some of my closest friends. I also got to play some wonderful parts throughout my training, such as Motel in Fiddler on the Roof and Leontes in Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale. The training we had was so deeply rooted in creating our own process and really studying playwrights from across all of history, so I felt very well-versed in everything from Shakespeare to Caryl Churchill to Stephen Sondheim.
Can you tell us about your training with them and The BRIT School?
Mountview was when things started to become a bit more confusing. Drama school is intense and can really impact your mental health, so I always tried to embrace my downtime as there wasn’t a lot of it. I was training Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm and then working in a cosmetics store on the weekends, so life was very full-on. I learnt a lot about the craft of acting, the skill it requires and the versatility you can attain if you really challenge yourself to be the best you can be.
The BRIT School is potentially the most magical place ever. It is so accepting, and the training is of great quality, whilst being the most fun ever. I made so many lifelong friendships and really learnt that being an actor professionally wasn’t as unattainable as I had thought previously. It was the secondary school and sixth form equivalent of Mountview or RADA or Royal Academy of Music, twenty minutes away from where I lived. I owe a lot to that place and to all the people that helped me grow in the four years I was there.
How did you find being part of the Ensemble for Magic at the Musicals?
Hilarious, now that I’m sat here in the position I am. It is pretty unbelievable to go from singing in the ensemble behind Layton (Williams) and Sabrina (Sandhu) from the previous Jamie cast in May 2019, to then being in the rehearsal room for that same show by November 2019. I had actually performed at the Royal Albert Hall a few years previous but this was unlike anything else. There was even a massive technical sound fault, causing the show to be stopped halfway through. However, the Magic FM team really looked after us, and it ended up being a great night.
When did you know you wanted to work in theatre and where does your love of performing come from?
I always acted, sang and danced from a very young age, so when I discovered you could do them all together, it was inevitable that I would end up pursuing this career path (and this was at age five). I don’t come from a family of actors, but my parents love going to the theatre, so I remember seeing The Lion King at five years old and being absolutely entranced. I have always been fascinated by the skill and vulnerability of great artists – everyone from Judy Garland to Octavia Spencer. I think I have always enjoyed stories and different forms of storytelling, so when I realised you could get paid to do it, it was a no brainer. I wanted to train as an actor and tell the stories that I really thought were thought-provoking and honest.
What do you like to do away from acting?
I try to keep up an outside life as I think actors, by nature, can become very invested and have their job become their world. So, I enjoy all the regular things in life. I’ve fallen in love with cooking and experimenting with food. I read and write a lot, watch a lot of movies and TV shows, and I’m a big music lover. Once we are out of this pandemic whirlwind, I can’t wait to travel more and see other parts of the world.
Do you enjoy watching theatre shows, if so, what are some of the most recent you’ve seen?
I am a regular theatre attendee, which becomes increasingly more difficult when you’re in a show yourself. Being at drama school and getting to experience Small Island at the National gave me a lot of hope going into the industry. I adored Emilia by Morgan Lloyd Malcolm that was on in the West End last year, and the wonderful Dear Evan Hansen which I was lucky enough to see on their press night. The vision of theatre seems to be focusing a lot more on reflecting the world we live in today and forgotten stories from the past. We still have a long way to go, but we are headed in the right direction of having an industry we are all represented in.
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