With Heathers The Musical touring the UK and Ireland, Markus Södergren is in the cast as Preppy Stud, and he also covers the roles of Kurt Kelly, Ram Sweeney, Veronica’s Dad, Principal Gowan and Kurt’s Dad. The musical is currently open at The Orchard Theatre in Dartford and moves to Aylesbury Waterside Theatre on 30th May, with venues booking until October, and the show marks Markus’ professional debut. As a student at ArtsEd, Markus performed in the European premiere of Freaky Friday and was dance captain in Legally Blonde, and he was part of the ArtsEd choir at the 2019 Olivier Awards before graduating during the pandemic in 2020. Over his time in the theatre industry so far, Markus has also worked with MTFestUK on their workshop of Soapdish at The Turbine Theatre, and performed at the Apollo Theatre in the West End with Roles We’ll Never Play. Markus recently talked to us about touring as Preppy Stud in Heathers The Musical, his cover roles in the show and training at ArtsEd.
In the current UK & Ireland Tour of Heathers the Musical, you are in the cast as Preppy Stud, what are you enjoying most about touring with the musical and how is the run going so far?
For me, it’s a true privilege to be able to see most of the UK and Northern Ireland whilst working. To see all the beautiful things that it has to offer in the big cities, as well as the smaller ones. I never had the opportunity to see a lot of England when I moved here six years ago from Sweden, so I’m really enjoying that aspect. I also really love the fact that we can bring Heathers the Musical to people that don’t necessarily have the ability to come to London and see it. The run is going really well! It’s a really strong company with some amazing people in it. I think, as with just about anything, that teamwork really makes the dream work and with this company we know how to work with each other.
What is the musical like to perform in and how is it being part of the cast?
Heathers is very unique because it has such a massive and committed fan base. They really do make you feel like you’re a rockstar and it doesn’t matter if you play the lead, supporting role or if you’re in the ensemble. The fans will cheer you on like you’ve just done a solo rock concert for them! I believe that the musical is a very thankful one as well. People that haven’t seen it before normally enjoy it as it’s a fast-paced, dark comedy enhanced with a great score that really seems to get to people. Being part of the cast is lovely. We have fun on and off the stage and I think that shines through when we perform.
What is it like making your professional debut in the show and how did you feel finding out you’d booked the role?
Making my professional debut in Heathers has been absolutely amazing! Not a show that I was expecting to be making my professional debut in, but so grateful that it is this particular show. It plays with so many different feelings and qualities, so it’s really exciting to have that in your first job. Finding out that I booked this job was an extreme relief. I had been fighting very hard for about two to three years to book a longer contracted job. I graduated straight into the pandemic, and that was hard. However, I never stopped fighting and that led me to make my debut in Heathers. So when I got that call from my agent at Cowley, Knox & Guy, it was pure joy! It also validated the fact that hard work pays off.
Had you seen Heathers the Musical before auditioning and was there anything that drew you to the production?
Yes, I saw the Haymarket production and I loved it! However, I never envisioned that I would be in the show. What a lovely surprise that I’m now in it!
You cover Kurt Kelly, Ram Sweeney, Veronica’s Dad, Principal Gowan and Kurt’s Dad, what have the roles been like to learn?
Learning my cover roles have been a lot of fun. I do love getting my head into different material and different lines so that has been really exciting.
They are all very different, so there’s a bigger scope to be played, which I really enjoy.
How is it seeing the audience response to the show and why would you recommend booking tickets to see Heathers the Musical on tour?
The audience response to the show is normally very good and loud! Many people always say that it wasn’t what they were expecting, and that it was a happy surprise! During some shows, it feels like you’re doing a Harry Styles concert because they are screaming and cheering so much. It’s a really fun show to watch and has a deeper meaning to the story. It really plays with difficult subjects in more of a playful manner. There’s also many moments where you notice if the audience are with you or not, because some lines are very thought about so you as an audience member have to think.
Before the pandemic, you played Adam in the workshop of Soapdish as part of MTFestUK at The Turbine Theatre, how was this?
To work with Stiles and Drewe was absolutely amazing and working with Alex Parker, who was the MD, and Rachel Kavanaugh, as the director, was a blast! I also loved to be part of the MTFestUK! I think Paul Taylor Mills really does a great job with creating opportunities to showcase new musicals!
We understand you performed at Roles We’ll Never Play at the Apollo Theatre, which was streamed online, what was the event like to be involved with?
The event was absolutely lovely, especially to work with so many friends! The musical director Flynn Sturgeon is a good friend of mine and working with him and getting to seeing him work was a thrill. I think the concept that Tom Duern has created is brilliant and creates a way for singers to explore songs that they would normally not, which also leads to greater understanding of different stories and songs. Tom gave me the opportunity to perform on a West End stage – a dream I have had since I was little and for that I am very grateful.
Was there anything that encouraged you to train at ArtsEd and how was your time there?
In Sweden there aren’t many drama schools and many of them lack a higher level of dance training. I had many friends that have gone from Sweden to ArtsEd so it felt like the natural direction for me. My time at ArtsEd was challenging, in a good way. I got pushed hard and, for that, I’m grateful. I also made some friends for life whilst studying there.
As a student, you performed in Freaky Friday and Legally Blonde, can you tell us about these?
Doing the European premiere of Freaky Friday was an honour! I developed so much during those two shows! During Legally Blonde, I was dance captain, and that was a role I never thought I would have, but I really did enjoy it. We had a great creative team on both shows and it was a gift to be working with such professional and accomplished creatives for them.
How did you find the experience being part of the ArtsEd Choir at the 2019 Olivier Awards?
Returning to the Royal Albert Hall after doing West Side Story and On The Town with BBC Proms felt really good! And to be part of celebrating great actors that are hugely inspiring was amazing.
Where does your love of performing come from and was it something you always wanted to do?
My love of performing stems from my father, Mikael, who played a lot of music when I was younger. It also comes from my younger years when I struggled to sit still during different theory lessons or when I found it very hard to concentrate. Music helped me focus and gave me purpose. Musicals helped me through a difficult period in my life when I was dealing with family difficulties. There was always new music or songs that I could relate to in certain ways and I used to sing so many different songs at very late hours in my room almost every night. And I think my dad knew they helped me, so very rarely would he tell me to stop. And when he did, the clock had struck midnight and he had to get up in about four hours, so I can’t blame him!
I think, since I found music, I have always wanted to do it. What I love the most is to have the opportunity to give people a moment of relief. A few minutes or hours where they don’t have to worry about bills or other daily concerns. A moment of entertainment. That’s what really fuels my fire.
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?
There’s so many shows that I really love, but I think Phantom is one of my favourites. It’s also top on my list of shows I would love to be in. I also really love RENT, and West Side Story is absolutely beautiful. I would really love to see Standing at the Sky’s Edge – I have heard amazing things! I would also love to see the production of Cabaret currently in London.
How do you like to spend your time away from acting?
I love spending my time away from acting with my partner, Amy, who is also a performer. We love to travel and eat! I value spending time with my friends and family. I try to see my family as much I can, but all of them are in Sweden so it’s hard sometimes. I greatly enjoy spending time with my two best friends, Josh and Izzy!
What are you looking forward to most for continuing the tour with Heathers the Musical?
To continue to explore the UK and Ireland and to meet fans and to show people Heathers! It truly is such a pleasure to be on stage and perform, so I will just continue to enjoy that as much as I can.
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