With The Prince of Egypt opening at the Dominion Theatre in the West End earlier this year, Adam Filipe is part of the ensemble as well as understudying the leading roles of Moses and Ramses, and he made his debut in the role of Moses in March. As an original cast member, Adam recorded for the cast album, which has recently been nominated for a Grammy Award, and he is now looking forward to getting back to performing when shows are able to reopen. Adam made his West End and professional debut as Swing and cover Grantaire in Les Misérables after training at Arts Educational Schools, and last month, alongside Julia Imbach, he performed at the Phoenix Arts Club raising money for Acting For Others. We chatted to Adam about opening in The Prince of Egypt, making his professional West End debut in Les Misérables and playing Alberto Beddini in Top Hat whilst training at ArtsEd.
What’s it like being part of the cast of The Prince of Egypt at the Dominion Theatre and can you say what it was like opening in the show?
It’s been a rollercoaster right from the start. I’ve met some absolute legends on this production; people that I’ve looked up to for years and having them become my castmates and friends has been a dream come true. This is the most I’ve felt part of the true meaning of the word TEAM on a show.
The musical held its press night at the British Museum, how was this?
I mean, what a privilege?! Firstly, the party they threw was epic, but being there with things like that enormous Ramses statue watching over us was such a cool touch. It felt very immersive. It was also super nice to see everyone put their glad-rags on – we’re so used to seeing each other wearing next-to-nothing in the show!
What’s it like understudying the roles of Moses and Ramses and can you tell us about making your debut as Moses in March?
Just… mad. For starters, the men I cover were so welcoming and helpful. I was allowed to sit-in on personal rehearsals in order to get a head start on learning the roles and that was really appreciated. It was just as well, because I ended up going on for Moses for the last week before lockdown when we’d only rehearsed about fifteen minutes into the show. THAT was mad – performing a show that I’d only run in my head! But everyone came through, cast and creative, with making sure what could’ve been a super stressful situation ended up being one of the best weeks of my life.
How was it being involved with an Original London Cast Recording?
Amazing! Recording an album was a new experience for me so I was eager to see how it all worked. It was tiring! Our show relies a lot on ensemble backing vocals for ambience so the amount to record was enormous. One of my favourite moments was recording some “dying screams” – just the other boys and I wailing into our mics pretending to fall. The footage is pretty funny!
What are you looking forward to most for when the show is able to reopen?
Just being able to do what I love again. Nothing makes you appreciate what you love like it being taken away and telling these stories, singing these songs is just my favourite thing in the world.
What did it feel like booking your professional West End debut in Les Misérables?
If I told my thirteen-year-old self that I debuted in Les Mis, he wouldn’t believe me! Mis was the first thing that I saw that made me say “this is what I want to do”. So, being able to do the show, especially the original version at the Queen’s, meant the world to me – the biggest tick on my bucket list.
Can you tell us about being Swing and cover Grantaire?
Being a swing is no easy task, but I really did enjoy what the role entailed. For a fanboy like myself, being a swing was perfect because I got to sing every corner of that amazing score. I had thirteen tracks to cover which included the barricade students, gang members and then two covers on top: Bamatabois and Grantaire! That part was such a gem, because I never saw myself in the role and then fortunately I got to spend a lot of time as him over my year – much more than anticipated. There’s a lot of artistic licence when it comes to Grantaire, so I feel like I really got to put my stamp on that character.
Do you have any favourite memories from your time in the show?
I loved being really challenged with absences, for example, once there were five men off, either on holiday or sick, and I was the only male swing in the building. For shows like that, you have to cover the bases of all five people, sing all five people’s lines, move five people’s props etc. This is called split-tracking, it happened all the time at a less drastic rate, maybe having to cover two people at once – but moments like that are what I remember most. Basically, running around like a headless chicken and thinking on your feet to make it look seemless.
Whilst training at Arts Educational Schools, you played Alberto Beddini in Top Hat, what was the role like to play?
Ah, Beddini! No word of a lie, the MOST FUN I’ve had in a role so far. I based my take on him after my uncle Cosimo who’s Italian too. I love doing the accent and gestures, even three years after I still pretty much have Beddini on tap. During lockdown, I did an Instagram takeover as him! *palms face*
That role really forced me to come out of my shell, plus he’s got a killer solo in act two. It was cool to also play a role originated by my idol, Ricardo Afonso.
Can you tell us about playing Bobby in Cabaret?
Again, another role that forced me out of my shell in a different way. He was quite a dance-heavy character, so it really made me apply myself in that area and Bobby was German, which was an accent that I hadn’t really mastered yet. Cabaret is such a poignant and iconic piece, which obviously has some very dark themes, so it taught me the importance of keeping up morale offstage. It’s also the show that my agent first saw me in and also where I worked with my partner for the first time, so naturally I’m so grateful for what that show gave me.
How did you get into acting and did you always know you wanted to do it as a career and what inspired you to train at ArtsEd?
Not really, I came to it all relatively late. I was singing and dancing separately and was eager to find something that connected the two. I got into The Brit School at fifteen years old on the Musical Theatre course, having never really seen a musical so my parents took me to see Les Mis soon after that, and that’s when it clicked for me. I realised that storytelling was the missing link that connected all three and told my dad there and then that I was going to do that and never looked back! In regard to ArtsEd, it’s just the school that felt right for me. I believed they would push me (and boy, did they!) and that made me the performer I am today.
What are some of your favourite theatre shows to watch?
I’m a sucker for a gritty, hard-hitting musical – anything by Boublil & Schönberg. Sondheim. After this whole ordeal though, I think I’ll have a new appreciation for those light-hearted, feel-good shows – I feel like the world needs a bit of a pick-me-up right now.
I saw Zorro the Musical pre-lockdown, which is criminally underrated!
How do you spend your time away from acting?
My other passion is Martial Arts. I started kickboxing when I was four, got my black belt at twelve and have kept it up ever since. I always seek out roles that accommodate this (for example, I’m the fight captain on The Prince of Egypt, and I take stage combat courses all the time) but I’m working on a self-defence programme for when lockdown is lifted – it’s an itch I’ve wanted to scratch for some time now.
You performed at Phoenix Arts Club in November raising money for Acting For Others with Julia Imbach, how did it come about and what was it like to do?
It came about out of sheer boredom and wanting to be back on stage again. The concert was aptly named “Doing What We Love”. We hit the six-month-mark and just said to ourselves, we HAVE to do something. Putting our attention onto that was a well-needed distraction and we managed to put it towards a good cause as well, which is always a bonus. We actually have a virtual project coming up very soon, so keep your eyes peeled if you’ve missed Musical Theatre as much as we have. You can follow us on Instagram @filipe_navidad and @juliaimbach to keep tabs on that!
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