Having workshopped The Osmonds: A New Musical previously, Alex Lodge is set to join the UK Tour of the musical as Jay Osmond – the show’s creator, when it commences its run early 2022. Recently, Alex played Charles in Pippin at the Charing Cross Theatre, also covering the roles of Leading Player and Theo, and he will be appearing as the titled character in Royal & Derngate Theatre’s pantomime of Dick Whittington starting 9th December. Earlier this year, Alex performed in Wonderful Town as Chick Clark at Opera Holland Park and A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Theatre on the Lawn. Amongst Alex’s other theatre roles, he was part of the West End’s A Christmas Carol (which could only open for a few performances due to the pandemic), played Louis Charles Hurt in Fanny and Stella, was nominated for Best Actor in a Musical at the Offie Awards for his portrayal of Jon in tick, tick…BOOM!, and he spent three years in the West End production of The Book of Mormon. Alex chats to us about his upcoming role of Jay Osmond in The Osmonds: A New Musical, his time in The Book of Mormon in the West End and playing Dick Whittington at this year’s Royal & Derngate pantomime.
You’ve been announced to play Jay Osmond in the upcoming UK Tour of The Osmonds: A New Musical, what are you looking forward to most for starting in the role?
Just the fact it’s actually happening in the first place is a huge milestone. By the time we open, I’ll have been attached to the project for nearly three years, so finally making it to opening night in front of an audience will be a massive achievement for everyone involved.
For me, there’s the added factor of taking on the role of the show’s creator. Playing someone in their own life story (especially when you’re stood right in front of that person in the rehearsal room!) is a huge responsibility and one that I definitely don’t take lightly. The Osmonds have such an incredible journey behind their iconic music, and getting to celebrate their legacy whilst telling their largely unknown story (which is an absolute emotional rollercoaster) is something we’re all so excited to do.
Was there anything that drew you to the production and how do you think you’ll feel performing the music live on stage?
Mainly, the money!
Joking aside, I’d have to say it’s the music. These songs are so iconic and mean so much to so many people. Most people know the biggest hits (Puppy Love, Love Me For A Reason, Crazy Horses, etc), but there are SO MANY SONGS in The Osmonds’ back catalogue that were/are incredible bangers that transcend genres and generations. Getting to breathe new life into their work for new audiences is a really exciting (and equally nerve-racking) prospect.
How was it workshopping the musical previously and hearing that Ryan Anderson, Jamie Chatterton, Danny Nattrass and Joseph Peacock were announced as the other Osmond brothers?
Getting the opportunity to take a project from first reading/workshop all the way through to opening night is exceedingly rare as an actor. The workshopping process is amazing to be a part of – watching scenes and characters develop and grow as the show evolves through hundreds of rewrites and edits is really thrilling. The show is constantly changing, and will probably continue to change over the first few months of the run until we feel we’ve got it “right” – and that, for me, is where the joy comes – the journey rather than the destination.
I was lucky enough to be a part of the audition process for the rest of the Osmond Brothers line-up, seeing as I’d already been cast and the brothers had to pair up well next to me – and that was fascinating to watch. The level of talent on display from every actor who auditioned was truly inspiring, but as soon as the combination of myself, Ryan, Jamie, Danny and Joseph happened in the audition room, there was something special about it. When the five of us sang together as a group for the first time, everyone in the room felt it. It was magic.
I’ve known both Ryan and Jamie for a long time now, so when I heard they’d both been offered the show and accepted the job, I was thrilled. I’d seen Danny’s stage work previously and I’d sat in on all of Joseph’s auditions as a reader, and knew that both lads were dynamite talents, so was equally thrilled when I was told they’d both accepted the job as well. We’ve been doing a lot of pre-production work together and already have a really special bond as a group. It’s an honour to be representing the original Osmond Brothers alongside these gents, and we all can’t wait to get out on the road.
You’ve recently performed in Pippin at Charing Cross Theatre as Charles, what was this like?
I had an absolute BLAST on Pippin. I joined the show for the last five weeks of the run and loved every second. I’ve known Ryan Anderson for years now, (by the time we open The Osmonds, I’ll have played his onstage lover, father and brother – just need to play his son now, and I’ll have completed the set!) and getting to hang out with him and watch him be a superstar on stage every night was really special. The level of talent in that show was off the charts across the board. Getting to listen to Natalie McQueen’s voice, watch Genevieve Nicole hilariously bring the house down and witness close up the masterclass and utter genius that was Ian Carlyle‘s Leading Player every night made turning up to work something I really looked forward to every day. Being in awe of your friends and colleagues is a feeling I’ll never get tired of.
What were Leading Player and Theo like to cover?
Really fun. All three tracks I played/covered in Pippin were all so different from each other, and I loved the challenge of differentiating and swapping between them.
Leading Player is an incredible role in its own right, and I loved getting into it and giving it a go. Understudying Ian was truly a wonderful experience. He’s one of the nicest men in show-business, and his kindness, generosity and advice was something I relished over my short time in the company.
How was it being part of Wonderful Town as Chick Clark at Opera Holland Park?
It was really… well, wonderful! As an actor, I’ve actually been exceedingly lucky over the pandemic. I’ve done some really fun stuff that wouldn’t have happened at all if COVID hadn’t entered into our lives. Wonderful Town was one of those amazing experiences. The entire job was only three weeks long – from day one of rehearsal to closing night. It was such a whirlwind process, it felt like we just laughed constantly for three weeks. OHP is such a wonderful venue in a truly incredible setting – Alex Parker (who was producer and musical director on the show) has done a brilliant job of bringing musical theatre to a venue that traditionally only performs opera, and I sincerely hope they continue to add more musicals to their future seasons, as it’s such a lovely place to work – I’d do it all again in a heartbeat!
Can you say about performing in A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Theatre on the Lawn?
It was terrifying! I’d never done any Shakespeare before, so I jumped at the chance when it came along. Oberon and Theseus are both completely different characters (with SO MANY BLOODY WORDS TO LEARN), so I loved finding them and playing with the language. I strongly believe that doing things that scare you is the only way we develop and grow, and this is a job that really did terrify me at the outset. Luckily, I was (once again) surrounded by a wonderful company who were all brilliant (and far more experienced than I was) at Shakespeare, so I loved simply watching and learning from my colleagues. We never stop learning as actors – and the more work I do, the more I realise how little I know!
With A Christmas Carol being able to open in the West End for a few shows last year, how was the atmosphere and what was it like to do?
It was joyous… and then it was really sad. The cast was made up of West End royalty – Brian Conley, Lucie Jones, Jeremy Secomb, Cedric Neal, Sandra Marvin, Rebecca Lock, Martyn Ellis… the list goes on and on like that – true musical theatre legends. Watching everyone be brilliant at what they do was so inspiring, especially after the year we’d all just had. Staging an entire show socially distanced had its difficulties, but it was an experience we’ll all remember for the rest of our careers. Being shut down on press night was really upsetting, although not entirely unexpected as we were all very aware of the possibility of being shut down as we went into it. This, in turn, made us all really appreciate each and every performance as if it were our last. We all had so much fun, and hopefully will get the chance to do it all again one day.
What was Fanny and Stella like to be cast in and what was Louis Charles Hurt like to play?
The whole thing was a massive experiment at the time, working out how to stage a whole show socially distanced, how backstage traffic works in such a small space, etc. It took great vision and tenacity from Steven Dexter and the producers to take a massive risk on something when no one had any idea if it would work, if it would be any good, if audiences would come – or if we would be plunged into another lockdown halfway through the run! Luckily, we avoided any such catastrophes and enjoyed a great couple of weeks playing to packed (albeit socially distanced) houses… or benches, as was the case at the Garden.
Louis was a very different character to anything else I’ve done in the past as he somewhat becomes the villain of the piece towards the end, which I enjoyed more and more as the run progressed. The cast for Fanny and Stella were such a brilliant bunch, and we became really close as a group, and remain that way to this day. I went to drama school with Kane Verrall, who played Fanny, so getting to work with him again after all these years was really special. Like I said previously, being in awe of your friends is such a wonderful feeling, and one I’ll genuinely never tire of.
You were nominated for an Offie Award for Best Actor in a Musical for your portrayal of Jon in tick, tick…BOOM!, how did this feel and what did you enjoy most about being involved with the production?
tick, tick…BOOM! was, without a doubt, the hardest show I’ve ever done in my career. Jon was an emotional, physical, mental and vocal marathon every single night – not leaving the stage once in a one hour forty minute piece with no interval was completely exhausting – and I loved every second of it. To this day, it’s the first time I’ve ever been proud of my own work as an actor, which was an entirely bizarre yet lovely feeling in itself.
I’m not someone who puts too much weight on accolades or awards – we work in a business where what people like and dislike is entirely based on personal taste, and that’s not something we can ever quantify as it’s entirely individual. That said, it was certainly a lovely thing to have known that a few people liked the show enough to give me a nod – it gave my mum something to tell her friends, anyway!
Do you have any stand-out highlights from your time in The Book of Mormon in the West End?
I loved my time on Mormon – three incredible years with so many wonderful memories, I could talk about it for hours!
To pick just one (off the top of my head) – it’d have to be this.
Once a year, the theatre community across the UK come together to raise money for Acting For Others, an incredible charity that supports workers from across the theatre industry in times of need. This normally takes the form of a bucket collection after the curtain call as the audience leave whilst selling signed posters, meet & greet selfies, etc. It’s a really fun fortnight across the building, and we all loved getting into the spirit of it.
After hearing about our fundraising efforts, The Book of Mormon and South Park writers, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, wanted to help us raise as much cash as possible. They sent over two autographed South Park scripts from LA for us to auction off, live on stage, at the end of the show. My inner nerd was GEEKING OUT.
David O’Reilly and I were on together as Price and Cunningham that day (we sat next to each other in our swing/standby dressing room and he became one of my closest friends on the show) and we were both really nervous about it. We were used to doing the usual “fundraising speech” at the curtain call, but full out auction?! That was a different beast.
Long story short, it sold for £5000. We couldn’t believe it – I’d never seen David speechless until that moment. We literally jumped off the stage and started running up and down the aisles to celebrate – it was MAD.
We met the successful buyers afterwards and gave them a quick backstage tour to express our thanks – they were so lovely about it. It was a brilliant night, and getting to share that moment with one of my best mates on the show was a really special thing. One of the many highlights of my time there.
You’ve been announced to play the title role in Dick Whittington at the Royal & Derngate Theatre in Northampton for this year’s pantomime, when do rehearsals start and why would you recommend booking tickets?
We start rehearsals in around two weeks, and I can’t wait. Ask anyone that knows me well, and they’ll probably roll their eyes telling you how much I love panto. I always jump at the chance to do one if I’m fortunate enough to be offered a job! Panto is often the first experience children have of live theatre, and I love being a small part of that.
I received my script last week, and spent a few hours giggling away to myself at all the gags – it’s genuinely one of the funniest panto scripts I’ve ever read and is sure to be a lot of fun for everyone involved. Royal & Derngate is a really cool, unique theatre, and I can’t wait to spend the festive season having a laugh there.
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