With 9 to 5 the Musical currently touring the UK, Richard Taylor Woods is playing Tinsworthy as well as covering Franklin Hart Jr. reprising the roles he originally played when the show was open at the Savoy Theatre in the West End. In the closing cast of Waitress the Musical at the Adelphi Theatre, Richard played Cal alongside Sara Bareilles (who also wrote the show’s music and lyrics) and Gavin Creel, and he has also been part of MAMMA MIA! in the roles of Sam, Bill and Harry on cruises, in the West End and internationally. For Richard’s West End debut, he was in Boyband the Musical as part of the band Britpack and, after the show closed, the band signed a record deal and released their single Set Me Free and went on to perform around the UK with the Smash Hits magazine tour. As a writer and screen actor, Richard wrote and starred in the six-part sitcom series SPONGERS, and he co-founded and is a member of the male vocal group UNITY. Richard answers our questions about being in 9 to 5 the Musical as Tinsworthy on tour and in London, his time at the Adelphi Theatre in Waitress the Musical playing Cal and making his West End debut in Boyband the Musical.
You are currently touring in 9 to 5 the Musical as Tinsworthy, what is this like and how is it being part of the cast?
Being part of the 9 to 5 company is lots of fun. It’s a great night out and, after a year and a half of theatres being closed for so long, it’s so nice to be back onstage bringing smiles to people’s faces. The cast are lovely and we’re very grateful to be back doing what we love.
Having previously played the role in the West End at the Savoy Theatre, do you have any favourite highlights from performing there?
My favourite highlight of performing in the show at the Savoy was working with Brian Conley. He was so welcoming when I joined the cast and I loved acting with him, it was a real pleasure.
Can you say about covering the lead role of Franklin Hart Jr. both on tour and in the West End?
Covering the role of Franklin Hart is fantastic. It’s such a joy to play when I go on. It’s always much more fun to play the bad guy and he has some truly ridiculous situations to navigate during the show and it’s a real gift to bring him to life.
What are you looking forward to for the rest of your run and why would you recommend seeing the show?
I feel very lucky to be part of 9 to 5 and I’m looking forward to being part of keeping theatre alive for the rest of the tour after such a long hiatus. I would recommend seeing the show to come and enjoy a couple of hours of laughing and watch some wonderfully talented people tell a fun story and remind us all that it is possible to find that time to try and leave our troubles behind for a while, relax and be entertained.
How was it playing Cal in Waitress the Musical at the Adelphi Theatre and was there anything that drew you to the production?
Playing Cal in Waitress at the Adelphi in London was a wonderful experience. To be able to tell that heartwarming story and touch people’s lives was lovely. It was incredible to share the stage with Grammy Award winner Sara Bareilles every night and that was a huge highlight and one I’ll remember for a long time.
What did you enjoy most about being in the musical?
I enjoyed most about the show, obviously working with Sara but also Gavin Creel. To work with such an established Broadway leading man was inspirational. He’s such a pro and was a great leader and energy in the building. I have a lot of respect for him as an actor and a person.
Over the years, you have been in a number of productions of MAMMA MIA! which has seen you perform on cruises, in the West End and internationally, what is the show like to do and how was it playing the characters of Sam, Bill and Harry?
I really enjoyed my time in MAMMA MIA!, I looked back and realised I’d done over a thousand performances of the production around the world and in London. It’s a great show and as far as the jukebox musical genre goes I think it’s so well constructed and the music and lyrics really fit perfectly into the narrative. Everybody can relate to a story of love, family and friendship and I was no different. Lovely memories. To play each of the dads in the show was special. Each one has their own perfect moment and I enjoyed being able to portray all them on different occasions.
What was the experience like being Swing in Motown the Musical?
Motown the Musical was a great experience too. The music is unquestionably incredible and a privilege to sing and listen to each night. I got to play an array of various characters during the run too which is lovely for an actor to keep things fresh for each show.
For your West End debut, you were cast in Boyband the Musical, and then went on to perform as part of the band Britpack, what are some of your favourite memories from this time?
My West End debut was in Boyband the Musical and I couldn’t have asked for a better induction into musical theatre, the cast were so talented and I got to live out the fantasy of being a pop star every night as the show was a light-hearted look at how a boyband was put together in the 90s when boybands were all the rage. We were very fortunate to land a record deal when the show closed and became a ‘real’ boyband for a while and were able to perform on TV shows like The Big Breakfast and Blue Peter promoting our single, Set Me Free, alongside travelling the UK on the Smash Hits magazine tour with the likes of Westlife and Atomic Kitten. We only reached number 41 in the charts but nevertheless it was a fantastic experience.
Can you tell us about some of the other shows you’ve been involved with which has included Miss Saigon, Evita, Footloose and Grease?
I really feel lucky to have been in some fantastic shows like Miss Saigon, Evita, Footloose and Grease and I take a lot of good memories from all of them. I’ve learned so much from fellow actors past and present and I find, even though I’ve been around a while now, I can always learn something about the craft and process from someone. I like to learn and always try to improve in all areas. That’s the thing I find about acting, you’re never the finished product, there’s always something to work towards or improve on or learn and I love that. It’s what keeps us going.
We understand you have screen experience including SPONGERS, can you tell us about your screen work?
In the last few years I’ve discovered a love of writing and I wrote a six-part sitcom series called SPONGERS about three forty-somethings who come of age a little later than they should have done and are making all the same mistakes they should have done at eighteen or twenty years old when the world is a little more forgiving. It’s fun and asks the question ‘Is it ever too late to find yourself and your path in life’ and can you make positive changes at any age? Decide for yourself I guess, lol. I also play the character of Will who is going through some big decisions in his life. We were able to make the pilot which I’m really proud of and are looking to make the series in the near future.
You co-founded and are a member of UNITY, can you say more about this?
I was away working in Miami and I was watching lots of gigs out there and a couple of friends and I decided that we could put together a group, so we founded UNITY. It’s a male vocal group with a slight feel of Il Divo but also we perform some pop music and have a little comedy in the act and fun to make it an evening all ages and musical tastes can enjoy. When travel and music venues open properly around the world we’ll be looking to get back on the road and play some live music.
Where does your love of acting and performing come from and how did you start?
I come from Oxford originally and I found a love of performing through joining local theatre groups and youth theatres. I was lucky enough to land a place with the National Youth Theatre and performed in Pippin the Musical and once I’d had a taste of London I was sold. I just wanted to be in the big smoke and soaking up the atmosphere and all the industry had to offer. I was young and keen!
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