Welcome back to Access London, thank you for your continued support towards disability access and awareness. Yesterday I posted about the marvelous show - The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, currently playing at The Gielgud Theatre.
I came away from this show absolutely buzzing, it is a fantastic night out and quite a unique experience. For more about the show and also the access for those in a wheelchair, mobility scooter or not able to climb stairs, please scroll down to yesterday's post for all the information you need.
Also, a quick reminder about the special discounted seat offer - £20 for top price seats if you get in touch with me by leaving a comment here, emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org contacting me on Twitter @HorizonVA or contacting Chris Jenkins on Twitter @chrisjenko
As promised, I have another fantastic interview with a member of the cast today. Again, for yesterday's interview with Cynthia Erivo, please scroll down. Today's interview is with the charming Chris Jenkins, here's what he had to say...
AL: What can audiences expect from the show?
CJ: This show is like no other. So, audiences should not come with any expectations, I think that is the best way to approach this production. It really requires an open mind. It is basically a play sung through the beautiful music from our gorgeous band, a breath-taking set by Lez Brotherston and the usual Kneehigh physical charms from Emma Rice. When I first watched it (as I joined the cast in London), I was swept away into a dream world and it was beautiful. The best way to describe the show? - It's Life.
AL: Were you part of Umbrellas when it played in Leicester?
CJ: I was actually cast towards the end of the process and performances in Leicester. My role, for those who don't know, is Swing, which means we are here to learn everyone else's role incase someone becomes ill, injured or, takes a holiday. Due to the short length of performances in Leicester, Gillian (the other Swing) and I were not required. So, we went up to Leicester to watch the show and rehearse with the rest of the cast.
AL: As Swing, how much notice do you get to perfrom and know which role you are playing?
CJ: This can really vary! I have had well over a week's notice to cover for someone but, if someone gets injured you can get as little as a few hours. There was one time where I had to become part of the stage crew half way through Act 1 (a track I wasn't even meant to learn!) and still dance a Tango, then run off stage to get some props ready, that lasted for a few days. It really is an on-your-toes job! But it means that it's pretty impossible for me to get bored. I have a notebook that is full of notes for each role/track, it's my Bible right now.
AL: If you could play any role(s) in musical theatre, what would it/they be?
CJ: Now, I always get asked this question and I never know the answer! I have a tendency to love some really obscure musicals that no one has heard of. Ah yes, I've got a few...Legolas in Lord of the Rings, I absolutely loved that show. It was fantastic, the music, set and costumes were stunning. I saw it 4 times, the geek that I am. I'd also like to play Sidney Falco in The Smell of Sweet Success which is the musical adaption of the 1957 film with Tony Curtis and Burt Lancaster. Also, Anthony in Sweeney Todd.
AL: How do you prepare before a show?
CJ: For this show, it really requires an ensemble connection to make it work. We work as a family. So, we all come together before a show to warm up and play games, so that we are in a playful, receptive and generous atmosphere. Once that physical and vocal warm up is complete, if I'm covering someone that night, I have a very quick speed-run of the show, where I'm running about the stage, singing little bits of the show, muttering to myself, dancing at triple speed and generally looking a little bit crazy to the rest of the cast and Front of House team!
AL: You have extensive training and qualifications in stage combat, what would be the ultimate show to be part of to use these skills? Also, would you want to use these skills in film or tv?
CJ: It is rare to see a big-scale show demonstrating these skills and one of the rare occasions is on our footstep. Batman the Live Arena Tour! A friend of mine is choreographing it and I am very jealous of all that are getting to work on it because it is just going to be incredible. I am not a big Batman fan but, the combat is very clever and intricate which makes it very exciting. There are a lot of demonstrations of stage combat at castles and museums around the country, notable performances in London during the summer include the Tower of London and Hampton Court, which are well worth a watch. There are also demonstrations at The Shakespeare's Globe Exhibition where I perform occasionally.
Using these skills for film and tv is a bit of a different ball game, the technicalities of the combat are different, it's a skill within itself. I was cast for a film that was out recently called Ironclad with Brian Cox, Derek Jacobi and James Purefoy which was filming in Wales (where I'm from) 2 years ago to work with Richard Ryan (Fight Director. The Dark Knight, Stardust, Sherlock Holmes, Troy) but unfortunately, they had to lose half of us a week before filming. You really don't know if you've got the job until you're on-set filming.
AL: You have performed at many fantastic venues - The Royal Opera House London, The Royal Albert Hall, Wales Millennium Centre - Is there one venue that holds a special place in your heart? And why?
CJ: Royal Opera House is just a beautiful building. The history is overwhelming and I have a lot of very good memories at that place. It's one I'll never forget and I'm sure I'll be back there again. Royal Albert Hall is just huge! I think it seats around 5500 people - the sound when everyone applauds is really something. But I think the Wales Millennium Centre will always hold a special place in my heart because I worked front of house for a few years and saw hundreds of shows and was then lucky enough to have performed there too. It's my home town and it's a stunning new venue that brings in some fantastic theatre.
AL: What's next for you after Umbrellas?
CJ: I'm lucky enough to have another job after Umbrellas. I will Swing for the transfer of the Lincoln Centre Broadway production of South Pacific, which will open at The Barbican, London in August, prior to the UK tour.
Access London would like to offer a huge Thank You to Chris for taking the time to answer our questions and also to the whole cast and crew of Umbrellas for such an amazing performance and a fantastic night out. We wish Chris, Cynthia and the rest of the cast all the best in their next roles.
To keep up to date with all of Chris's news, visit his website HERE
You can also follow Chris on Twitter @chrisjenko
That's all for today but, don't forget, Umbrellas of Cherbourg closes at The Gielgud on May 21st. If you want to take advantage of the fantastic £20 a seat offer, please get in touch by leaving a comment, emailing me at email@example.com or getting in touch on Twitter with either myself @HorizonVA or with Chris @chrisjenko