On Saturday 5th December, Oliver Tompsett is due to perform at The Capitol Theatre in Horsham for his sold-out show A Night at the Musicals with Oliver Tompsett which will feature Christmas songs and numbers from musical theatre. Most recently in theatre, Oliver was performing in the West End at Shaftesbury Theatre as William Shakespeare in the new musical & Juliet, with the show currently on hold due to the pandemic. Prior to & Juliet, Oliver played the role of Charlie Price in Kinky Boots at the Adelphi Theatre, and during his career so far, he has appeared in shows including We Will Rock You, Wicked and Guys and Dolls. Ahead of his concert at The Capitol, Oliver chats about what audiences can expect from A Night at the Musicals with Oliver Tompsett, getting back to live shows and originating the role of William Shakespeare in & Juliet.
You are performing at The Capitol Theatre in Horsham on Saturday 5th December, what can audience members expect from the show?
A bit of musical theatre, mainly Christmassy classics! Coming out of our second lockdown, I want to entertain but I don’t want to come out all guns blazing in what will be some people’s first outing for a while. My aim is to give an evening of easy listening with a touch of nostalgia and get everyone looking forward not looking back.
What are you looking forward to most for A Night at the Musicals with Oliver Tompsett and performing at The Capitol?
Singing to a live audience. And knowing that it is sold out makes me feel like people still want entertainment as much as I want to get back on stage. My shows in the past have always been different. Due to trying to sing new material but mainly because every audience is different and the relationship we have is unique each time.
How did the show come about and how have you decided which songs to include on the setlist?
Matthew Effemey – The Capitol’s Operations Manager – has been terrific and so proactive about getting a Christmas season together so that those who love theatre can get back at it in a safe manner. He approached me and I was like “hmm?? Let me check my diary, yeah I can squeeze one in”. Haha! Song choice is always important. Firstly, can I sing it? Should I sing it? Getting the balance of knowing your audience and knowing yourself. It will be a mix but don’t expect it to all be musical theatre.
What do you enjoy most about performing at concerts and how different do you find the experience to when you’re in a musical?
You’re not playing a character. You can apply most of the context of a song to yourself in the immediate setting. I don’t usually deliver a hugely dramatic-based concert, I enjoy the sentiment and message of a song and try to keep it current whilst allowing the audience some escapism through the music and hopefully my voice.
Before lockdown, you were playing William Shakespeare in & Juliet, what is the show like to be part of and how are you finding your time playing the character?
Immense fun. I’ve always loved the medium of musical theatre because my love for acting and music is equal, I also like a bit of a boogie so as long as it’s not too tricky, I’m in my element. I also enjoy Shakespeare and grew up on most of these pop hits over the last 25 years. Comedy is probably my favourite in a musical and we have in abundance. My portrayal of Shakespeare or, I should say, our portrayal (working alongside the writer and director), is not historically correct, he’s cheeky, stubborn and a bit of a narcissist. We try to get the balance of charm and likeability alongside his arrogance in everything he does because he’s used to being told his ideas are the best but when we meet Shakespeare in & Juliet, all the adoration he’s been used to is challenged when Anne Hathaway, played by Cassidy Janson, decided to change the story of Romeo and Juliet.
How was it booking your role as an original cast member?
I wasn’t originally available so it wasn’t on my radar but Luke Sheppard, our director, asked to see me when my current contract in Kinky Boots closed earlier than planned, making me available. The premise of Shakespeare combined with pop songs didn’t fill me with hope but after reading the script and meeting Luke, I discovered how incredibly smart & Juliet is and hence why it received nine Olivier nominations.
Can you tell us what Charlie Price was like to play in Kinky Boots at the Adelphi Theatre?
Tough! It’s a busy plot and a difficult sing eight shows a week but great fun working alongside a brilliant diverse cast. I enjoyed the heels too.
What was it like on closing night?
Electric! That show touched so many people, especially those that may have felt under-represented in theatre so it was an honour to be part of something that not only was a great show but reached a different audience than before. Closing nights are the best because, unlike opening night, there is no expectations, it’s just a chance for one last hurrah. Generally, closing nights are my best shows. When you know you won’t do it anymore, the importance and adrenalin of it all creates the best theatre.
How was it performing the Queen songs as Galileo in We Will Rock You and what was Drew Boley like to play in Rock of Ages?
After playing Drew in Rock of Ages, singing the mix of 80s power ballads, the songs of Queen were a joy to sing. They wrote songs with a touch of classical sound to them I found mainly due to Freddie’s incredible instrument. The Dominion is the place to do a rock show. Rock of Ages was just a big party every night on and off stage! Loved it!
What are some of your favourite memories from playing Fiyero in Wicked?
Hearing those arrangements every night, it felt like you had a sixty-piece orchestra beneath you every night. And the jodhpurs. Ooh they were tight.
Can you say about some of the other productions you’ve been part of?
We’d be here all day. I try and mix it up if I can. I steered clear of pop rock shows when I was getting pigeonholed and held out to do Guys and Dolls to prove I could do legit classic musical theatre as well. I’ve played the Olivier Theatre in a play, The Royal Hunt of the Sun. I learnt so much working alongside this country’s finest classical actors. I’ve met best friends. I met my wife. I’ve been rejected in auditions more times than I can count but I have still been lucky enough to perform in London’s West End for eighteen years now and I’ve never been on tour. I’m not sure if I’m lucky or missing out. I do whatever I can to pay the bills between acting jobs and I will continue to try to surprise people when they think they know what kind of actor I am. I am a storyteller and I want to tell stories in as many mediums as I can whilst supporting my family.
How was it filming as Chauncey in Show Dogs?
Brilliant, I love dogs and they gave me a perm, I looked like David Hasselhoff and Liberace’s love child. And I got to go to Vegas for ten days to shoot!
Where does your love of performing come from and how did you start in acting?
My mother was an actress and dance teacher and my father had the most incredible voice. It was their love for theatre and storytelling that fascinated me. I saw it as play and I still do to some extent to this day. I didn’t do drama at school as, for a long time, I was a bit scared of performing in front of people. But when it came to a choice of doing something else for a living or getting over the nerves and stepping up to perform, I took my chances each time and got braver and braver.
Other than A Night at the Musicals with Oliver Tompsett at The Capitol, do you have any other shows/concerts coming up?
Yes, I have a few streamed concerts that I don’t have any info for as yet but I will also be taking a similar setlist to the London’s Hippodrome on the 18th December, 7pm slot!
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