Earlier this year, Jamie Muscato returned to live theatre for the first time since the pandemic started when he joined the cast of Les Misérables: The Staged Concert at the Sondheim Theatre as Enjolras, and during the time theatres were closed, he was part of the digital revival of BKLYN – The Musical. Throughout Jamie’s stage career so far, he has previously worked on other productions of Les Misérables – the 2012 feature film, 25th Anniversary Concert and International Tour, played Tony in West Side Story and was in the original London/West End cast of Heathers the Musical as JD, having been involved with the show since the workshop stage through to opening at the Theatre Royal Haymarket. On screen, Jamie played the lead role of Sam in The Colour of Spring, which has had great success at film festivals around the world and has seen Jamie win a number of awards for his portrayal of the character. Jamie portrayed Rory Storm in the TV mini-series Cilla, which also led him to record at Abbey Road Studios, and he has recently worked on a couple of TV projects, with the release dates not yet announced. We talked to Jamie about returning to Les Misérables for The Staged Concert, playing JD in the original London and West End cast of Heathers the Musical and filming for the multi-award-winning The Colour of Spring.
How was it returning to live theatre since the pandemic started to play Enjolras in Les Misérables: The Staged Concert and what was he like to perform as?
It was a privilege just to be back on a stage in front of an audience. After such a long time of not being able to perform, and then getting to play one of the best roles in one of the most iconic shows in the world… I felt very lucky. Leading a revolution against the oppressive French aristocracy six days a week is definitely more exciting than watching back-to-back episodes of The Office in my PJs…
Is there anything you enjoy most about working with Les Misérables, which you were also part of for their film, 25th Anniversary Concert and International Tour?
It’s been great to work on the show in lots of different incarnations and, because of the depth of the story and score, I’ve always managed to learn something new about it every time. I saw a modern version produced at Mountview recently and it felt so relevant still, which is an amazing thing for a show written in the 80s (maybe not such an amazing thing for society though…) because, at its heart, it’s a play about humans who are struggling through hardships which is something I think we can all connect to.
Can you say about performing in the digital revival of BKLYN – The Musical?
I didn’t know BKLYN at all before I worked on it but wow that music deserved to be heard. It’s a play-within-a-play and the director, Dean Johnson, managed to create a theatre/film hybrid which alternated between us telling the story directly to the camera and then performing dramatised sections like a typical film which wasn’t something I’d seen before and thought was a great example of making imposed restrictions work for you.
What was Tony like to play in West Side Story at Leicester Curve and how was it being in the cast?
I think Tony is one of the greatest roles created. Ex-gang member who’s trying to go straight, falls in love with the wrong girl, sees his best friend get stabbed to death, murders his lover’s brother and then gets shot himself… I mean, what’s not to love! The Curve’s production was absolutely stunning and the cast were a dream to work with. Nikolai Foster (director) wanted his production to shine a brighter light on the story of the Sharks, immigrants who came to America and struggled to find their space in a hostile country which I think gave the audience a lot to think about as they left the theatre night after night.
You played JD in the original London cast of Heathers the Musical, what did you enjoy most about playing the character?
JD goes on SUCH a journey. I can’t think of many other shows where the cool guy protagonist goes on to be the crazy guy antagonist; from getting the girl to getting blown up by his own bomb. There’s a lot of things to play with between those two extremes. I really enjoyed finding moments to bring out glimpses of the monster he’ll become and then moments to show that he’s actually just a scared little boy who wasn’t shown love by the people he needed it from. I wanted the audience to be scared of him but feel sorry for him at the same time so I enjoyed getting to dig into that messiness.
What are some of your favourite highlights from being part of the workshop and then opening at The Other Palace and in the West End at Theatre Royal Haymarket?
Getting to watch the fan base grow and grow and grow and grow and grow and… etc etc etc.
Having been in Big Fish at The Other Palace in 2017, how was your time in the musical?
This is another show that tugs at the heartstrings. I don’t think we got through a rehearsal without all breaking down into sobs! I played Story Edward, an idealised version of a character played by Kelsey Grammer, who spends the show telling his grandson tall tales of his life from his hospital bed. It was a very happy cast and backstage company and getting to work closely with a giant like Kelsey was one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had.
Can you tell us about some of the other theatre productions you’ve been involved with over the years?
I’ve been lucky enough to have been involved in some excellent theatre productions during my career but some personal highlights are being part of the original production of Spring Awakening in the UK, working at the National Theatre in The Light Princess by Tori Amos, playing Eddie in the original production of Dogfight in the UK and being part of Lazarus, one of David Bowie’s last creative endeavours directed by Ivo Van Hove.
Last year, you appeared in the multi-award-winning feature film The Colour of Spring, can you say about the film and what was Sam like to play?
I had a great time playing Sam, he’s a super conflicted guy who is very jealous of his girlfriend’s successes, but also madly in love and proud of her at the same time. We shot the film around Nova Scotia, which is such a stunning part of the world and a beautiful backdrop for this strange, black and white, slightly supernatural, love story.
How is it seeing the success of the film at film festivals around the world and how does it feel winning numerous awards for your portrayal of Sam?
Feels good. It’s nice to have something you (and lots of other people) worked hard on getting recognised by people across the world.
You played Rory Storm in the TV mini-series Cilla, what was it like to film?
Rory Storm was an up and coming rock star in Liverpool at the same time as Cilla Black and The Beatles (Ringo even drummed in his band for a while) but he didn’t make it as a successful artist. In the series he gives Cilla her first opportunity to sing in front of a crowd at the Iron Door Club which then begins her launch into stardom. I also got to record a song at Abbey Road Studios to be used in the episode which was a lot of fun.
We understand you’ve filmed for a couple of upcoming projects, what was it like on set of each and is there anything you can tell us about them?
I filmed a couple of TV series (at the same time as doing the Les Mis Concert which was an interesting game of Schedule Tetris for my agent!), but we don’t have air dates yet, so I’m a little bound by secrecy about those roles until they’re out there.
Where does your love of acting come from and how did you start?
I did an open audition for a pantomime in my hometown when I was eight, fell in love and joined all the amateur theatre companies in Brighton. It’s been the only thing I’ve wanted to do since then and I’ve been lucky to make a career out of it.
How do you like to spend your time away from acting?
I do a lot of cooking, watch a lot of films, play my guitar and go to the theatre. I’ve started running and there’s a couple of climbing gyms near me so I go bouldering. I’m trying to up my reading game at the moment but it’s not going great. I started learning chess after watching The Queen’s Gambit so I’m into that at the moment. And I’m making my own kombucha… I get distracted easily.
Apart from the two upcoming screen roles, what are you hoping the next year brings for your career?
You can never really plan what happens in this career so as long as I’m working, that’s ok with me.
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