Recently, Marcquelle Ward opened his performing arts academy at Middleton Pop School running every Saturday morning featuring dance and acting classes. The Marcquelle Ward Academy is suitable for all levels, and Marcquelle is planning to showcase the first term in November, and alongside his academy, he also runs his production company Royal Born Entertainment. This year, Marcquelle will be playing Robin Hood in The Adventures of Robin Hood in Cooksonville at The Customs House – Arts Centre in South Shields, and has previously played Dick Whittington at Contact Manchester and Jim Hawkins in Treasure Island. In One Love: The Bob Marley Musical, Marcquelle played DJ Master Sway and covered the role of Bob Marley, and he played Rum Tum Tugger in CATS at the London Palladium and on the UK and European Tour. On screen, Marcquelle played regular character BB in Britannia High alongside Matthew James Thomas, Rana Roy, Mitch Hewer, Georgina Hagen and Sapphire Elia, and he has worked with Ed Sheeran for his music video Small Bump, performed on Pariah’s single Chocolate, and he regularly hosts national and international dance competitions. Catching up with us, Marcquelle told us about playing Rum Tum Tugger in CATS at the London Palladium, his time filming as BB in Britannia High and opening the Marcquelle Ward Academy.
Can you tell us about your performing arts academy Marcquelle Ward Academy?
It’s based at Middleton Pop School and runs every Saturday morning. Term 1 is from the 17th September till the 5th November. I teach dancing and do acting classes there. The aim is to share the knowledge of someone who’s been where you want to go, first hand.
How long have you been planning to open the academy and is it something you always wanted to do?
We have been planning this for a while. Like my wife, Catherine, got on board with the idea and was the drive behind it all. She has better organisation skills than I have but this was a mutual project.
Who do you think would be interested in attending the academy and why would you recommend signing up?
I believe anyone who is interested in getting into the industry but wants/needs that advice from someone who has done it, at all levels.
What upcoming plans do you have for Marcquelle Ward Academy?
We plan for a second term starting in January and to do a showcase this November of this term.
You’ve been holding regular classes and workshops over the years, what do you find most rewarding about them?
Being able to pass on knowledge. Watching everyone flourish, that’s what makes me happy.
Can you tell us about your production company Royal Born Entertainment?
Royal Born Entertainment is a media production company and we shoot films. We encourage local talent to get involved to get them seen, plus writers, directors, producers etc. The aim is to make our own movie channel and let the world see.
In July, you were featured on Pariah’s single Chocolate, how was this?
So, being featured on this single was pretty amazing. It’s been years since I have released any music and this was a good look. She is a great performer and so is Joe Gee, who features as well.
Over Christmas 2021, you performed in Contact Manchester’s pantomime Dick Whittington and his Amazing Cat, what did you enjoy most about playing Dick Whittington and how was it getting back to live theatre?
Playing Dick was really fun, especially with the team we had. The team were so supportive and helpful, even went I went down with COVID. Sean Canning and the eight-freestyle team are incredible. It was even more special for me because I was finally in Manchester performing.
We understand you will be playing Robin Hood in The Adventures of Robin Hood in Cooksonville at The Customs House – Arts Centre in South Shields later this year, what are you looking forward to most for opening in the show?
Yes, so I have been announced as Robin and all I ever look for in my role is a great team and an appreciative audience. And I believe the team is already great, we had a photoshoot in July and everyone was a barrel of fun. Lucy (Elizabeth Davis), who plays Maid Marion, is a great actress and singer.
You played Jim Hawkins in Treasure Island in 2019, can you tell us about this?
Scarborough will always have my heart. I moved my family there when my daughter was three months old to do this role and she loved it. The community at the Stephen Joseph Theatre are just so loving. Playing Jim under the direction of Erin Carter was a blessing. I don’t know if she knows this, but she taught me a lot about myself and capabilities. This was, like, the year after my back operation and she was just great.
How was it playing DJ Master Sway and covering the role of Bob Marley in One Love: The Bob Marley Musical?
It was a beautiful time which, again, like all my roles, I am grateful for. What was majorly different for me was the whole cast bar a few were black and I’d never been in that situation really before but the culture was strong and good. I mean, I never had to explain my upbringing and why certain things happen etc because we all had similar lives and understanding culture made everything a short hand. Plus, that’s when my wife was still my girlfriend at the time and we would go to restaurants and bars on the weekend. Great times.
Do you have any stand-out highlights from your time performing with CATS at the London Palladium and on the UK and European Tour?
First off, thank you to everyone in the CATS family for accepting me. From Chrissy, Marina, Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber, Sir Trevor Nunn and the late great Dame Gillian Lynne rest in peace. Every show was different, so every show had highlights. I think mine from the West End was the last show. So the reveal of Old Deuteronomy… Now, normally when you end a show, it’s tears because you have been together for so long and been through so much and never really get to see each other again because of everyone’s work schedules. So, during this show, everyone has cried at some point bar me. Now, at this reveal point during Mr. Mistoffelees, I sing “oh, well, I never, was there, ever…” it’s real slow, just the piano and I, but then the band and everyone kick in, but I am all choked up because I have realised this is my last show with these guys. So now I can’t sing, I can’t get a word out. I look to the monitor but the MD can’t signal till I sing it. So I cried it lol.
What was Rum Tum Tugger like to play and how was it getting into character?
Rum Tum Tugger was a big character to dip into because of all the people before me that had played the role, but a massive thank you to Antoine, who was the character before, giving me the wing. The late Dame Gillian Lynne said to me, “you are Tugger now, be raw, be sexy and dangerous”. My note from her after my first show was “grab as many pussies’ asses as you can whilst on stage”, I laughed but it worked.
On screen, you are well-known for playing regular character BB in Britannia High, what are some of your favourite memories from being part of the show and working with the rest of the cast?
Just to have been working with such great people has been my all-time high. From Arlene Phillips, Gary Barlow, Brian Grant, Minkie Spiro etc, just incredible, to ultimately the cast – Matthew James Thomas, Rana Roy, Mitch Hewer, Georgina Hagen, Sapphire Elia, Sophie Powles, Adam Garcia etc. I loved every bit. Our bonding sessions in Sheffield whilst recording the album, our dance sessions in London, Bond Street to the National Television Awards… all memories that are great. To messing around on set with each other or being serious. I wouldn’t have changed it for the world.
Over your career so far, you have worked on a number of other projects including Ed Sheeran’s Small Bump music video, Daddy Cool and hosting at dance competitions, can you tell us about some of the projects you’ve been involved with?
So, to be in the Ed Sheeran video was an honour, he didn’t know I auditioned for it and was made up it was me but I nearly got in trouble because you can’t tweet that you are in someone’s video before it comes out but he did. Told everyone I was in it lol. Great guy though. Daddy Cool was my first musical and I was living in Majorca to do it, now that was an experience. The cast were from Holland bar four of us, but just mad fun times. The dance comps I host are national and international and it’s just good to see the next generation flourish.
Where does your love of performing come from and how did you start?
I think my mum mainly because she was a singer back in the day. She used to write etc but she is just an incredible woman. My dad used to do Bill Cosby impersonations but that was that. School was always the starting point though, school plays etc.
What are some of your favourite films, TV and theatre shows to watch and how do you like to spend your time away from your career?
I have so many films to mention but if I’m with my wife and we want something light to watch, anything by Jennifer Aniston. She has cracked that rom-com market easily. I don’t watch much TV but lately BBC iPlayer dramas have been doing it for me, Capture. As for theatre, really anything with a good storyline.
Have you been given any advice over your time as a performer so far that has stuck with you and what advice would you give a young performer starting out?
Well, back in 2007, I toured with Rihanna and Ciara for the UK tour of Good Girl Gone Bad. I had, like, the biggest crush on Rhi but we used to always talk and I remember asking her this question and she said “just enjoy it”… I see what she meant now and it’s like only do something if you enjoy it, the minute that goes, stop.
Do you have any upcoming plans you can tell us about and what are you hoping the upcoming year brings you?
Well, my performing arts academy, Marcquelle Ward Academy, gets bigger and better, and maybe I am back on your TVs soon.
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