For Sam Denia’s most recent production, he was playing ten different suspects in Murder For Two at Barn Theatre, with the run ending last Saturday 5th March. Over the Christmas period, Sam toured as Abanazer in the pantomime Aladdin, and he has previously been part of Passenger’s music videos and he trained at Drama Studio London, where he performed in a number of shows including his graduating show – Around the World in 80 Days – playing Mr. Fix. Speaking with Sam, we found out about his run in Murder For Two at Barn Theatre, playing multiple characters in the show and touring South London in Aladdin.
You’ve recently been in the cast of Murder For Two at the Barn Theatre, what was the show like to be part of?
Working on this show has been an absolute dream, rehearsals were the upmost fun! Working with Lee (O’Reilly) and Brian (Hodgson) has been a blessing, they are two wonderful people as well as colleagues. A lot of preparation was focused on the musical aspects of the show initially as it is all live piano; I spent most of Christmas time revising the score instead of listening to Christmas songs!
What drew you to the production and what was it like reading the script for the first time?
The premise of it being a murder mystery with only two actors was the biggest intrigue for me; how on earth was this going to be staged and created? Additionally, being a pianist, I absolutely loved the idea of performing the music ourselves whilst telling the story, it already felt like it would be a huge challenge but such a rewarding experience! Reading the script for the first time was such a joyous experience; it truly is laugh-out-loud funny and perfectly written as a comedy and a mystery, the script combines those elements brilliantly.
How did you find the experience playing multiple characters in the show?
Playing ten different suspects has been fun! Multi-roling is always a challenge because distinction is so crucial from an audience’s perspective, and with the speed of this production, along with the fact that we never leave stage or change costume, makes the swapping literally happen right before your eyes, so that distinction of characters is vital to understand what’s happening. That was always my main focus with this project, creating unique physicalities and accents but keeping it simple enough to ensure the pace of the shows isn’t affected! I can’t complain though, I played enough characters for two whole years of acting work!
Over Christmas, you played Abanazer in Aladdin, how was this?
Being in a pantomime is always fun! Audiences love the silliness, the puns and ridiculousness of what’s happening in front of them which makes performing even better when they can laugh with us! Playing the villain has to be the best part, I always looked forward to the chorus of boos from the kids whenever they saw me outsmart Aladdin once or twice!
Was there anything you enjoyed most about performing in pantomime?
We were touring Aladdin throughout the South of London and surrounding areas and fortunately I had such a wonderful cast to work with! Truly, everything was fun from start to finish despite the very early commuting hours and long, tiring pack downs; but also, seeing the kids’ reactions to seeing a story play out in front of them and witnessing them fully invest in a couple of hours of fantasy was joyous.
You’ve performed in a number of Passenger music videos, what were these like to do?
I was extremely nervous going in to perform with Passenger in his music videos; being such an established artist with massive hits worldwide I had no idea what to expect or how demanding it would be! I have to say he was the most wonderful man; putting everyone at ease, being such a joker and having a laugh as well as taking a genuine interest in our lives! We immediately felt like we’d been working as a band for years!
Can you tell us about your training at Drama Studio London and about some of the shows you performed in whilst there?
Drama Studio London was such an important time in my life, I feel like going through drama school is always a time where we ‘come of age’ or we learn more about ourselves; I certainly felt this way! The training was wonderful, the teachers were more than insightful and helpful (I still keep in touch with a few of them) and I’ve made friends for life there! I look back fondly on those times and see it as a massive stepping stone to kickstarting my career. We performed a lot of shows whilst we trained but I’d say my fondest production was Around the World in 80 Days, I was Mr. Fix who was hunting down Phileas Fogg and it was our graduating show; we loved it so much we even took it out to fringe theatres which was only possible thanks to our director (Jenny Eastop). That show has a special place in my heart!
Where does your love of acting come from and how did you start?
My mum asked if I wanted to audition for Tiny Tim in A Christmas Carol for our local theatre in Liverpool when I was eight, and I thought ‘why not?’ I was thankfully cast as Tiny Tim and, I have to be honest, I fell in love with the applause after I’d finished my very first solo song. It’s not the most romantic reason to fall in love with theatre but I do remember getting the ‘bug’ and ever since I haven’t been able to stop! Ever since eight years old, I went for anything I could go for in youth theatres and local drama groups until I eventually wound up in drama school and carried on from there. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been involved in theatre!
What are some of your favourite theatre shows to watch and which would you like to see that you haven’t done so as yet?
I remember very recently seeing The Play That Goes Wrong and absolutely loving it; the comedy, the idea, the perfection of it all – I think it really deserves every bit success it has earned. Musically, I also adored seeing Come From Away and its beautiful story and music, as well as Hadestown that was at the National; also because its music was live and performed on stage which I am huge advocate for. More actor-musicians wouldn’t go amiss! I would like to see Cabaret at the Playhouse as I’ve only heard wonderful stuff from friends who have been lucky enough to see it!
How do you like to spend your time away from your career?
I like to spend time with my friends as much as possible. I think, being an actor, it’s easy to surround yourself with the industry a bit too much and it can be very overwhelming. All my friends are actors too which also makes it harder to forget about it, but we try to go on trips or occupy ourselves with things that take us away from it because it’s nice to be in the world outside of the arts as well! I also like to video game as well, I think it’s a brilliant form of escapism!
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