Jacob Fowler is currently playing JD in Heathers the Musical, a role he recently took over full time, after being an ensemble member and Understudy JD when the show returned to The Other Palace at the end of last year. Previously, Jacob workshopped and was part of the concert for In Pieces, and he played Mohr in Vanara: The Legend. For his theatre training, Jacob attended Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, before leaving in the second year to be a contestant on Little Mix: The Search. After auditioning for Little Mix: The Search, Jacob was put in the band Since September, with whom he went on to win the series with and they are now preparing to support Little Mix on their upcoming arena tour. Since winning the show, the band have released a number of singles including their latest All The Broken Heart, have toured with their Empty Seats Tour and will be performing at The Grace on 20th March. Talking with us, Jacob tells us about playing the role of JD in Heathers the Musical, being cast in Vanara: The Legend and winning Little Mix: The Search with Since September.
How did it feel booking your role in Heathers the Musical at The Other Palace, and had you seen the show before auditioning?
I had certainly seen Heathers before I was a part of it! JD has been a dream role for a while so to not only understudy, but to then play the part, has been a dream come true.
What is JD like to play and how was it preparing for your debut performance?
Playing JD is an incredible honour because of how complex he is as a character and how incredible the material is that he gets to sing. It’s quite a challenging role for me as it sits at the very top of my range, but I use that to my advantage when it comes to him reaching his peak ‘psycho’ stage. My debut was pretty crazy as I ended up going on only seven shows into the run, with only two hours notice, and with zero cover rehearsal. Luckily, I’ve been obsessed with the part for a while and so I knew a lot of the material already, so it was just a case of working out the blocking and my entrances and exits.
How was it taking over the role full time, and do you have any stand-out moments from playing the character?
Taking over the role full time was a dream come true. It gave me more ownership of the role and allowed me to play with it more, rather than wonder when my last cover performance was going to be. I think a highlight every night is coming off after Meant To Be Yours. It’s such a climax of the show and the adrenaline once I leave the stage hits me like a tonne of bricks! I love it.
What was it like playing Mohr in Vanara: The Legend and being part of the production?
Vanara was another job that came completely out of the blue. I got called in after about a week and a half, as their Mohr had to drop out because of COVID. It was my first proper professional musical and to be playing the lead, again alongside some incredible actors, was pretty crazy and intimidating. I’m so glad it happened that way as I think it gave me chance to have to learn material really quickly, which would then come in handy on my next show just a few weeks later…!
How was it making your professional debut with the show and performing at Hackney Empire?
Performing at the Hackney Empire was incredible. The building oozes theatrical history and to get to stand on that stage and sing that incredible score each night was a blessing. Funnily enough, the day before I found out about Vanara, I was watching Judy with my girlfriend’s family and I was telling them ‘Did you know all the scenes in Judy where she’s on a stage were filmed at the Hackney Empire?’! Funny how things work out.
Last year, you were part of the workshop and concert for In Pieces, what were they like to do?
In Pieces was so much fun as it was my first professional job and I felt so incredibly grateful to actually get to do what I’d always wanted to. Working with Joey (Contreras) and his partner Brian was such a pleasure as well and then going on to perform the concert at the Turbine was SO fun.
Where does your love of musical theatre come from and can you tell us about some of the shows you performed in while training at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance?
I don’t really know exactly where my undying love for theatre comes from. My mum does like a musical but it was never a huge thing in our family. We did Into The Woods at secondary school and I was originally only going to be in the orchestra for the show but then they said they needed a Prince and I thought I’d give it a go, and so I played in the orchestra for the Prologue up until Hello, Little Girl and then I went down and performed as Cinderella’s Prince for the rest of the show! I think that’s where I really fell in love with the spontaneity of musical theatre.
At Trinity Laban, I never ended up doing any shows! I left at the end of second year to film Little Mix: The Search and then COVID struck and, by the time I finished the show and was going to come back, they’d already started the end of third year shows. I did perform Honk! at the beginning of second year which was fun, and recently had the pleasure of singing at the Stiles and Drewe Song Competition Awards which felt a bit full circle! (Also at the Hackney Empire…!)
Was there anything that encouraged you to be a contestant on Little Mix: The Search and how did it feel joining Since September?
The only reason I ever actually entered Little Mix: The Search was because I thought it’d be quite cool to be on telly, haha! I’d always entertained the idea of going on a talent show but after joining Trinity, it didn’t feel like I needed to. Then, when the opportunity came my way, I just went with it for as long as it would have me, which ended up being till the very end! Being formed into Since September was daunting but incredibly exciting. We were four completely different boys, all with different assets, and different prospects. But that all worked in our favour in the end and we had this undeniable chemistry that couldn’t have been forced. We’re like four brothers, really.
How was it being announced winners of the series and what are you looking forward to most for supporting Little Mix on their 2022 tour?
The moment we won the show will always be one of the best moments of my life. Even writing this now I get teary-eyed and goosebumps thinking about it. Just how proud my family were and how I knew, from that moment, that my life was about to change. I kept walking around the studio that night and saying ‘I’m playing the f***ing O2 Arena!’. And on that note, I’m most looking forward to playing The O2 Arena!
How has it been releasing your latest single All The Broken Hearts and what can audiences expect from your upcoming show on the 20th March at The Grace, London?
All The Broken Hearts has been so well-received and I’m so happy because it’s a favourite of mine.
Our 20th March show is going to be so fun because it’s the last one before we go on tour. It’ll be a trial and error on some parts, trying to work out what works best for us to do on the tour, but really it’s just one big celebration.
Can you tell us about your previous single 11:11 and what’s it like seeing the response to the release?
Our single 11:11 is definitely a collective band favourite. It’s got the feeling of a ballad in its rawest form but by the end it’s an anthem. It’s definitely one we’ll enjoy playing on the tour and, hopefully, the crowd will be singing along with us!
What are some of your stand-out highlights from your time in Since September so far?
A stand-out moment for me so far in Since September was the Empty Seats Tour. We had the best few days travelling up and down the country and just living the life! The most exciting times for me are the moments when the cameras are off and we’re all just being stupid together.
When did you get into music and is it something you always wanted to do?
I started playing an instrument called the cornet when I was four. I don’t know why but apparently I always asked my mum to play the trumpet and so this was a slightly smaller version for a very small child! I casually just started singing when I was about nine and people would tell me I was ‘good’ (I’m sure I wasn’t) but from there I just carried on and taught myself. I did try to have one singing lesson when I was about eleven but I didn’t like it. I’ve never liked people telling me what to do. I’m quite stubborn when it comes to singing, too. I sort of know exactly how I want to sound and how I want to portray my voice. Obviously that’s not always the case, for example when an MD gives me notes, I take them! But generally, I’m stubborn!
How do you like to spend your time away from your career?
I love playing FIFA and spending time with my girlfriend. Apart from that, I’m pretty boring. I do love a good board game. I think because my ‘job’ is so exhausting, I really like to spend my own time doing the bare minimum!
What are some of your favourite theatre shows to watch and who are some of your favourite music artists to listen to?
My favourite shows are Phantom, Les Mis, the recent revival of Company, etc.. I love a Sondheim and pretty much anything legit, but then also love the Heathers and Legally Blondes of the musical theatre canon. My favourite music artist is Sam Smith, followed by Adele, Elton John, Joni Mitchell, Eva Cassidy, etc…
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