Marcus Collins

📷 : The Headshot Box

Last year, Marcus Collins returned to his first live theatre show since the start of the pandemic when he was in the cast of The Choir of Man in Australia, and he played the Genie at the Regent Theatre Ipswich in Aladdin for their 2021 pantomime. Marcus has previously played Hud on the 50th Anniversary UK Tour of HAIR, toured North America and Canada in Gobsmacked! and played Seaweed in the UK Tour of Hairspray. In 2015, Marcus made his West End debut in the original West End cast of Kinky Boots at the Adelphi Theatre as an Angel and cover Lola and in 2018, he was part of the workshop of new musical QU4RTER by Arun Blair-Mangat at The Other Palace. As a singer, Marcus was a contestant on Series 8 of The X Factor in 2011, where he came runner-up to Little Mix and was mentored by Gary Barlow. We spoke to Marcus about returning to live theatre with The Choir of Man in Australia, touring as Hud in the 50th Anniversary UK Tour of HAIR and being in the original West End cast of Kinky Boots.

What was it like playing the Genie in Aladdin at Regent Theatre Ipswich last Christmas?

I love being in the theatre, getting to know the team and the cast, front of house and crew. It’s always a good laugh seeing the professional sides of people then seeing them in the pub with a glass of red and talking about family and Xmas. It’s always a joy.

Do you have a favourite aspect of being in a pantomime cast?

Panto is always a right laugh, just a nice energy and proportions of fun but still pushing the story along for the kids and some sprinkles of double entendre for the bigger kids.

📷 : The Choir of Man

Last year, you were in the cast of The Choir of Man in Australia, how was your time in the show and returning to live theatre since the start of the pandemic?

The show was incredible. Working in a collective of men telling the stories of heartbreak and insecurity was so refreshing to not have to push a narrative that all men have to be STOIC and unmovable. Heading back in to live theatre was a show to the system at it was 37°C on stage OUTDOORS… AT MIDDAY. The pandemic rules were so light in Australia at the time but the audiences and performers both wore masks. It was a joyous experience.

You played Hud on the 50th Anniversary UK Tour of HAIR, how was this and was there anything that drew you to the musical?

I did indeed, the tour was multifaceted with learning experiences and education. The music of the show was really what drew me in… And I kind of wanted to get my kit off and do the full nude scenes which has subsequently created a nudist out of me.

📷 : Johan Persson

Can you tell us about workshopping Arun Blair-Mangat‘s new musical QU4RTER at The Other Palace?

This was an incredible piece and workshopping it amongst some of the most talented individuals in the West End really was my pleasure. Arun Blair-Mangat is family to me and continues to find me amusing when I have absolutely no idea why… then usually around three weeks later he has written a play or musical based around the funny event and out of him flows a story or scenario stemming from said event. That’s just how narrative travels through his being. I look forward to his new work which is being workshopped in Los Angeles alongside the careful mentorship of our beloved Billy Porter.

What was Ollie like to play and are you able to tell us more about the character?

Ollie was an extended version of myself. He was a flamboyant cater waiter who dropped killer one-liners and was wildly inappropriate.

What was it like touring North America and Canada in Gobsmacked! and what did you enjoy most about working on the show?

Gobsmacked! was an incredible opportunity to travel 33 states of Trump’s America. The show was unique and intriguing which kept the audiences flowing and to this day is the only time I’ve ever done a show without spoken words, band or instruments. A cappella is a discipline, add to that a world champion beatboxer and it was a winning combination.

How was the experience making your West End debut in Kinky Boots and playing an Angel in the original West End cast?

Kinky Boots was magnificent and a very important point in my career. I felt as though finally I had the chance to show up in the industry and it wasn’t going to be clouded with The X Factor stigma. I got that job due to what I showed in the audition room and it remains to be the love of my life. Playing SISSY ELLIOT was a scream. The real show was in the dressing room with the other queens in prepping for the show Kiki’ing. That should have been a reality TV show alone.

You also covered the role of Lola, what was this like?

This was both terrifying and exhilarating at the same time. I just wish that understudies/swings were given more attention, nurture and respect. It’s an incredible job and requires a strong set of nerves, and multiple levels of focus and ability. In my opinion, they are the hardest worked and lowest paid in the company and that is a dire shame.

Can you say about your time playing Seaweed on the UK Tour of Hairspray?

Seaweed is a wonderful role and I was really able to cut my teeth with the character. There isn’t a bad scene in the entire show for Seaweed. It’s all in the timing. A CHARMING role for my theatre debut.

What was it like filming for Out of Time as Matt?

Once again, this came in from Leon Lopez who is a good friend and wonderful actor and director.

Do you have any favourite memories from being a contestant on The X Factor where you came runner-up in 2011?

YES!!! When it was over and I knew I’d done my best and I had a two-week break after the final before Xmas which involved moving back home to Liverpool. I sat in the bathtub with a latte and watched Little Mix do a This Morning winner’s interview and I packed up and headed home with my family. I honestly needed it. The shows were so intense but what goes up must come down and we had all worked from March to December with pretty much no break. For all its glitz and glamour, there was so much that went into it, it has potential to be overwhelming at times.

📷 : ITV The X Factor

What stand-out highlights do you have from being an actor and performer over the years?

Performing with Gary Barlow at the Royal Albert Hall for Royalty was a dream come true and the photograph of that moment is still pride of place on my office wall. Also, performing at the Oliviers with Kinky Boots UK (seven nominations), receiving 1-1 coaching from Cyndi Lauper, Jerry Mitchell and Stephen Oremus. Then came the Grammy-nominated cast album for Kinky Boots.

Where does your love of theatre and music come from and how did you start?

It comes from treat days out to Liverpool and I’d be allowed to see a show and it was instant love at first sight. The glamour of the theatre and then the magic of the band then the costumes and the lighting and sets… and then people came on stage and told stories and were adored. I knew there and then it was for me.

What are some of your favourite theatre shows to watch and how do you like to spend your time away from your career?

I love Kinky Boots, I’m really excited to see West Side Story the movie as that’s magnificent on stage. I was at opening night for Wicked and it remains a staple for me. Dreamgirls will always reign supreme. I like to paint, walk my dog on the beach, home interiors and I love to make wigs.

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