Since & Juliet premiered in Manchester in 2019, Tim Mahendran was cast as Francois in the musical, where he performed the Max Martin soundtrack and was directed by Luke Sheppard. Tim continued in his role when the show transferred to the West End later that year, and with the pandemic closing theatres in March 2020 and the show being put on hold, he is set to reprise his role of Francois when & Juliet reopens at the Shaftesbury Theatre on 24th September. In 2018, Tim was performing at Chichester Festival Theatre as Raj in David Walliams’ The Midnight Gang, and he made his professional debut in the original cast of Spring Awakening as Otto, where he was once again directed by Luke Sheppard. While & Juliet has been closed, Tim has taken part in MT Fest’s Millennials, along with other events including Leave a Light On, and he filmed as Nelly in the TV pilot of The Horne Section and also filmed for Stath Lets Flats. Speaking with us, Tim chats about playing Francois in & Juliet, being part of The Midnight Gang at the Chichester Festival Theatre and making his professional debut in Spring Awakening.
How did it feel booking your role of Francois in & Juliet and what is the character like to play?
Booking it was a surreal experience. I remember being elated for so long and then it dawned on me who I was playing alongside, that it was my first West End show etc. The nerves well and truly had set in! The character is a dream to play. It’s genuinely an honour to represent so many of my friends on stage and such a huge community.
What was it like doing the run in Manchester before transferring to the Shaftesbury Theatre and what are some of your highlights from both venues?
So, being from Manchester originally it was a dream being up there. A lot of my family are still up there, so was lovely spending time with all of them. We didn’t know how the show was going to be received, so after the first night when the audience was chaos, we knew we had something special. I think the highlight of Manchester for me was the uncertainty originally and then the reception we received. Also being in Manny again. And London highlight has to be my West End debut and having my parents there watching.
Is there anything you enjoy most about being in the cast and performing the Max Martin songs?
For me, like the rest of the cast, I grew up listening to these iconic songs. So when I knew what songs were going to be in the show, I had the opportunity to live out my childhood popstar dreams. It was no longer me singing these songs stood on my bed pretending I’m performing to Wembley, I actually had the chance to do it properly. And get paid!
What are you most looking forward to for returning to the show when it reopens later this year?
Money. I’m joking, I think the joy it brings people and also brings us on stage. That joy cant really be described.
What was Raj like to play in The Midnight Gang at Chichester Festival Theatre and what drew you to the role?
Playing Raj was a lot of fun as a lot of the children who came to see the show loved the character of Raj so you’re instantly loved before you’ve even done anything, haha. I was a fan of David Walliams growing up so it was exciting to be part of his work.
How was it being part of a David Walliams show and what was it like performing in Chichester?
Chichester Festival Theatre is one of the most joyous places to work. In front and behind the scenes, everyone worked so hard and treated us so well. I really hope to go back and work there again one day soon.
Can you tell us about being in the original cast of Spring Awakening as Otto?
Spring Awakening is a job that will forever hold a very special place in my heart. Even before I did the show, it was my favourite musical so to be able to do my favourite musical as my professional debut was pretty sweet. The show was so beautifully done by Luke Sheppard, I just wished it had another life!
During the pandemic, you were part of MT Fest’s Millennials, how was this?
Short but very sweet. Elliot Clay is an absolute genius and it was a genuine honour to perform his work. If anyone wants to put it on again, I would love to be involved, haha.
You were also involved with a number of other projects during the time theatres were closed including Leave a Light On and In the Willows, can you say about some of them?
The Leave a Light On gigs were very strange, as I’ve never performed a one hour concert with just my girlfriend in the room before. Very strange experience but was nice to have something to work towards and rehearse in the lockdown period.
We understand you will be playing series regular Nelly in The Horne Section, what was it like on set and can you tell us more about your role?
When filming the pilot for The Horne Section, it was such an enjoyable time. I admire Alex Horne’s work, and we had a great scene together which was exceptionally fun to film. We improvised a lot and tried a lot of different options which was great. The cast, crew and everyone involved were a dream to work with! I can’t wait for the next stages!
How was the experience filming Stath Lets Flats?
One of the best days ever. I’ve said it so much since finishing, but Jamie Demetriou is the funniest person on the planet. I’ve never laughed so hard when doing a job. I don’t know what takes they will use, but I think 98% of them I’m trying so hard not to laugh. Loved it.
How different have you found working on screen to stage?
Not too dissimilar if I’m honest. Yes with TV there is a little more subtlety you might bring, but I certainly didn’t find it a shock to the system.
Had you always wanted to be an actor and how did you start?
I was lucky as from a young age I knew what I wanted to do. When I was young, I was involved in a company called the National Youth Music Theatre which helped me gain a lot of experience early on which also developed my love for acting even more. After NYMT, it was a no-brainer that this is what I was going to do with my life.
What are some of your favourite theatre shows to watch and how do you like to spend your time away from acting?
I love a lot of musicals. I love seeing friends in musicals. I love being in musicals. Like all shows really, ha. Spare time for me is family/friend time. Watch a lot of sport, walking etc. And you’ll probably find me sat at a table in a pub somewhere. Nothing better.
Tim Mahendran is represented by David Lazenby at Vivienne Clore http://www.vivienneclore.com
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