Jon Boydon answers….

For my final interview of 2013, I have been lucky enough to persuade Jon Boydon to answer a few questions. Many of you will have seen Jon in action at the Prince Edward Theatre playing Tommy DeVito in Jersey Boys. It has taken me a while to write this up as he answered everything so thoroughly, but I am delighted with his answers and very much hope you’ll agree that it’s a wonderful insight into his career.

Three of the 'Four Seasons', Jon Boydon (Tommy) is centre.

Three of the ‘Four Seasons’, Jon Boydon (Tommy) is centre.

1. You are currently playing Tommy DeVito in Jersey Boys. Please tell us a little more about your character.

Tommy DeVito is one of the founding four members of the pop group The Four Seasons which launched Frankie Valli’s career and spawned countless pop hits. Tommy is principally a guitarist and a singer, but really his input to the band was the drive that he had. He wasn’t the best singer, ideas man or musician but he had the guts and the drive in the early days to secure them gigs. Once he saw he had the potential in the other three to get somewhere, he was determined to get there and he was responsible for those early bookings and getting money – a lot of which he kept for himself – and getting this band off of the starting blocks and out into the public eye. He’s a bit of a bad boy, he has a gambling problem once the money starts coming in, he’s mixed up in the mob. He’s a very mixed up character and great fun to play.

2. Were you a fan of Frankie Valli (and the Four Seasons) before you joined the cast?

I knew quite a few Frankie Valli/Four Seasons songs before I joined the show. I was brought up on my Dad’s music really – my Mum and Dad had great taste in music, Dad particularly has a great music collection – so I was aware of quite a lot of the songs. I wouldn’t necessarily know who they were by. I think a lot of people come to see the show armed with a handful in their minds and as the show progresses they think “oh, they did that one.”

Their music was covered by a variety of British artists and some of those British artists had bigger hits in the UK than The Four Seasons did with their songs. I would say about a third of them I knew, a third of them I knew but not by them and there were a third that were new to me – songs I had never heard before such as ‘Ragdoll’ and ‘Dawn’ which just weren’t on my radar – I’m not that old!

3. Are there any other roles within Jersey Boys you would like to tackle?

I joined the show nearly four years ago and came in to the role of Tommy and I’ve done it ever since. If I was going to play another role in Jersey Boys, I think I’d probably like to try Nick. I think Nick’s a really interesting character, I’m certainly too old for Bob and I don’t have the voice for Frankie. Maybe in another ten years I’ll be looking at Gyp (laughs), but I do think Nick would be interesting to play. If I was to play Nick, I think I would always be secretly looking at Tommy thinking “Hmmm, I wish I was doing that!”

4. You have been in Jersey Boys for around four years. Have you noticed any changes within the audiences or the popularity of the production over the years?

Being in a show for four years is a new thing for me, two years has usually been my maximum. There’s something about Jersey Boys that’s kept me here and it’s interesting to see a show – it was two years old when I joined it, so very much still at the beginning of its hype and excitement – Year three was still surging forward in that, a lot of the original cast were still involved and it was a very exciting time.

The show has maintained an incredible following and we still have very, very busy houses, people that are coming to see it for the first time and then people who are coming to see it for the hundredth time, it’s a real mix of experiences for people. I can’t seem to see that it has changed at all really – there are always seasonal fluctuations in the size of the house in any show unless it is in its first six months when it is totally sold out, so (for example) any given Wednesday at the beginning of November could be pretty quiet on any show and that’s been true of Jersey Boys as well, but the weekend crowds we get in are still packed to the rafters, still loving it, still seeing it for the first time. The show itself is maintained with incredible precision by our British creative team that the show is still as fresh as the day I joined it.

5. You have played a multitude of roles as well as been in a number of concerts/bands. Do you have a favourite and why?

I’ve been a very lucky boy and played a lot of fantastic roles in theatre. I’ve almost been able to tick off my hit list. They are all special for different reasons, I don’t think I’ve ever really done anything that’s so similar to another one that I have to pick a favourite between two. Playing Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar was as legit musical theatre as I’ve ever been, even though it’s still a rock musical, so that was a great journey for me to go on, doing a totally through-composed musical playing such an incredibly heavy part and going on a very difficult emotional journey every night – it was incredibly rewarding.

We Will Rock You being the alternate Galileo was a fantastic acting journey for me actually, because I’m not typically suited to the role – I’m quite tall and I was probably a little bit too old on paper – but it was great to put my head inside Galileo’s mind and be this young kid with this information bursting out of him that he’s seemingly unable to control and of course to sing such amazing songs, at times in the presence of Queen and Ben Elton. And being a rockstar at the end of the show every night was just a dream come true.

Currently, Tommy is my favourite role, I think the fact that I’ve done it for four years is testament to that. It’s a funny thing when jobs like this come along at the right time, when you’re available for a start, you’re the right type, you’re the right skillset and the door opened as I was ready to walk through it, so I’m not done with Tommy yet and I continue to enjoy pushing the envelope within the constraints that we have here at Jersey Boys, you know, finding new things out. And the profile of the show is magnificent, it’s like being in a band sometimes when we’re out doing little roadshow things and it just is a real buzz every night being not even the frontman – being the ‘side-guy’ on the guitar but still the band leader, it’s a great little adventure every night.

If I was pushed to pick a favourite I would say Tommy but if I end up in something else in a few years time, I’m sure it’ll be whatever I’m doing at that time although I will always have fond memories of everything I’ve done at different stages of my career.

6. If you could play any role – from ANY show, which would you choose and why?

The one that got away, probably because I’m not a great dancer, was Rum-Tum-Tugger in Cats. I always thought I might like to play Rum-Tum-Tugger and it’s certainly not going to happen now. Currently in the West End there’s not much that’s suited to me that I’d regard as being better than where I am, but I went to see The Bodyguard and I did enjoy the part of the Bodyguard (Frank Farmer) and I thought ‘Oh I could play that’ and it was the first time for a little while where I have watched something and thought ‘I could do that’ (I can’t obviously get to the theatre much because I’m working) and I did think that would be a nice role.

I think I’m suitable for one of the Dads in Mamma Mia! But I don’t have a huge desire to rush along and do that whilst I’ve got Tommy DeVito to play with. I toyed with the idea that I might like to play Phantom but I think vocally I’m not quite right, I would have to put on a bit more of a legitimate theatre voice and that’s not who I am, but the kudos of a role as famous as that would be incredible to play. I guess Jean Valjean in a similar way would be something else. But right now? I think I was lucky enough to tick off Frank-N-Furter and Judas and Galileo and a Jersey Boy and there isn’t much left that leaves me hungry. But there are always new shows coming – new shows on Broadway that you hear of, new writing for London – and who knows what will come along that will have my name all over it and I’ll think “I’ve gotta do that job!”

7. What has been the highlight of your career so far?

To have a career at all has been an incredible achievement or extended highlight. I didn’t go to drama school, I didn’t train as an actor, I didn’t train as a singer, I didn’t train as a musician, I’ve just taught myself everything along the way and to sustain a successful career for nearly 15 years just by sheer determination and hard work is something I am thankful for every day.

There are highs in any gig – singing Bohemian Rhapsody for Brian May on the opening night of my contract as Galileo was an incredible high with my family watching. Playing Hyde Park for Radio 2 Proms in the Park on my birthday doing Jersey Boys songs for 80,000 people was an incredible highlight. And sometimes it is just smaller things along the way – just having a kid at stage door come up to you and say “I want to be an actor when I’m older, would you sign my book” or “I bought your CD”. It sounds a little bit twee, but it’s a genuine thing that if you know that you’ve been to work and done your job – essentially all we’re doing is going to work and doing our job every day – but you’ve affected one person in an audience of 1500 and changed the course of their life for the better or inspired them to be creative, then that’s a little something you can take away with you without thousands of screaming fans or meeting famous people and that’s enough.

8. Are there any negative aspects to your job?

There aren’t many negative aspects to this job, it is a job, after all, that we love to do. We’re very lucky that we leave the house every day to go to work and know that we love what we do, but any job can be tedious at times or you can be tired or you can have personal problems or issues that you’re dealing with outside of work that you have to leave at the door and carry on regardless.

It’s a tough job in its energy, it’s a very focussed, extensive burst of energy at the end of the day when everybody else is switching off after finishing work and going out for an enjoyable time. You spend all day at home having your leisure time and then work very hard for a concentrated period in the evening. I think the biggest drawback is the impact it has on your social life, knowing that you’ll never have a weekend, a Saturday night date, time with your family – you know, anytime that everybody else is relaxing – Christmas time and things like that, they are always our busiest period. Anyone that works in the entertainment business or the leisure business or the restaurant business knows that Fridays, Saturdays, weekends, Christmas time, they’re always going to be your busiest time so eventually that does take its toll.However, it is a choice we have. We don’t have to do this job and you have to take the rough with the smooth. But in the main I love what I do, I love my job and I’m very thankful.

9. If you weren’t a performer, what do you think you would be doing instead?

If I wasn’t a performer I’m not really sure what I’d do, it’s changed over the years. When I first started out I was still young enough to just get another career, I imagined I might do something in advertising. Now, obviously, I’m older and it would be difficult to start out doing something from scratch, I’ve thought in terms of jobs I would do maybe in-between being a performer, such as a driving instructor or something similar.

I’m not really sure. I guess if I had to give up the most logical thing for me to do would be to retrain as a teacher and become a drama teacher with experience. At least then I would be keeping within the creative area but just passing on my knowledge to someone else.

10. Who or what are your influences?

I’m influenced by everything really, everything I see, people I see every day, any interaction with the outside world is going to inform your performance at some point or another. Characters you meet out and about on the street, on the bus, in a shop, people you work with, any of this can feed into characters you come up with, even if it’s just for fun.

I don’t particularly single out any one actor or musician that has influenced my life in such a great way, I like a lot of actors and I like a lot of musicians. I think I’ve learnt most from working with people, so anyone I’ve worked with has influenced my skill. Being on stage with someone night after night and feeding off their energy and bouncing off them and using the dialogue that you’re given to create a story is something that you learn – to watch the other person very closely and feed off their timing and their energy and give it back to them in the same way, so although it’s essentially the same performance every night, there are microscopic little differences and changes that you perceive that transform the way you respond.

So I would say that my role models, if you like, have been my family and teachers and a few pop stars and a few movie stars, but generally it’s just getting out there and doing the work and working with good people – it rubs off on you.

11. You have recorded an album – is this a reflection of your musical taste? Do you write your own music and are there any plans for another?

My album ‘Three-Four’ was a collection of some of my favourite songs. Also with the knowledge that my market-base was going to be primarily Jersey Boys fans initially so it was deliberately pitched in places at the ‘Doo-wop’, sixties sound, but these in a way are the songs I grew up with, listening to stuff that my Dad used to play, so I haven’t just gone through and deliberately picked songs that sounded a bit like Jersey Boys songs – they’re songs I’ve known since I could walk and talk.

There’s a little walk down the rock ‘n’ roll side of me, not very heavy rock but enough to fit in with the taste of the album and ‘Fallen Angel’ is one of my own compositions on there, which was ironically titled since there’s a fallen angel in Jersey boys. I wrote it when I was about 20, at university, and never really did anything with it, so in coming to do the album I decided I wanted to put it on there and do a full arrangement with the band, so it was really nice hearing a song that I’d only really ever done with an acoustic guitar and voice come to life with full orchestra, keys and drums etc.

It was quite an expensive process and I was doing it for myself, I wasn’t doing it to make money, but it did in fact cost quite a lot – I haven’t recouped the cost of doing it and I still have several boxes of CD’s that are, as yet, unsold (laughs) in the garage. But even saying this, I do plan to do another one next year, I think we’ll go about it in a slightly different way. The first one was, primarily for me, to spend a week in a recording studio and have some fun and lovingly doing it for the fans. I think the next one will be more directed at the fans ’cause I’ve fulfilled my ambition of recording an album with the last one. It will be funded differently, it’ll be marketed differently, it will be available differently. As to the content, I have had some good ideas and… watch this space!

12. Which three words would you choose to best describe yourself?

The impossible question of three words! (After a lot of thought) For today we shall go with optimistic, dedicated and stubborn.

13. What single item couldn’t you live without? (Family is a given):

The item I couldn’t live without would be a guitar.

14. Do you have any advice for budding actors or people wanting to break into theatre?

People do ask me advice at stage door or when I see them, or “Oh, my friends’ daughter is thinking of doing this…”. Advice is an odd thing to give because everybody’s  journey is a little bit different. I, for example, didn’t go to college but I wouldn’t necessarily recommend that you don’t go to college but I can’t recommend that you do go to college ’cause I don’t know what the college will give you.

I think you have to be true with yourself, you have to be honest and ask yourself “Am I really good enough?” “Am I better than the thousands of other people out there that are going to be trying to get ahead in this very difficult industry where there are a very small amount of jobs for a very large amount of people?” And “Is it worth my time and money pursuing it if I’m just average?” That’s quite a hard thing to come to terms with especially if you come from a small town where you’re the greatest thing in every production and play and drama group. Suddenly you come to London and you realise you’re a small fish in a big pond so you’ve GOT to be honest with yourself about your likelihood of succeeding if you want to do it to make a career and a living out of it.

And then just be determined. Just be strong. You will get a hundred knock backs before you get a door opened and that’s all part of the business. There was some very good advice I heard online recently where there was a guy going to auditions worrying about getting a job and he suddenly realised that his job was going to auditions as much as doing the productions. So if you’re an actor, as soon as you walk into an audition room, that’s when your job has started – you’re performing to a very small number of people, and you have to not fret about whether you’ll get the job but just go in and do a good performance, a good audition. That’s your job, that’s what you do and eventually you’ll get some financial reward for it.

I would also say to look after your body. It’s very easy when you’re 19 and bendy to throw yourself around or to not take as many safety precautions for yourself. Just because you’re keen and want to work hard and get on, you HAVE to look after your body. You have to look after your knees and your back and your shoulders and all these things that when you suddenly turn 30, start to say ‘hang on a minute, we’ve had enough, you’re working us too hard.’ But enjoy it. I love what I do, I make a lot of friends and it’s very lucky to be able to do that every day and still get paid for it and say I am a professional performer.

15. Has anything embarrassing ever happened to you whilst performing? Can you tell us about them?

I’ve never really had any terribly embarrassing things happen. In any long run you’re going to have moments where you forget your lines, forget your dance moves, a prop breaks or a chair (or something) isn’t on stage when it should be, and whilst at the time they seem to be quite horrendous to you and maybe minutes and minutes are passing by, generally nobody notices. Even people that have seen the show before, you say “Did you notice such and such happened?” and they say “Oh no, I had no idea,” so the more you work you learn to deal with it – with experience comes confidence and if I’ve stuffed my lines up I just take a beat, take a breath and carry on. The worst thing you can do, and it happens when you’re young and inexperienced, is you get into a flap and you break out in a sweat and then you start shaking and you’re constantly thinking about everything and you clam up basically. The best thing you can do is just relax into it and almost have a sort of  ‘well, I don’t care, I can’t take it back’ attitude and just get on with the show.

Aside from general things that everybody goes through in their career, I’ve not had any huge moments where I’ll be writing my memoirs and must include the funny story about x,y and z, whatever so no juicy bits I can give you there, sorry!

Once again, a massive thank you to Jon for answering everything so thoroughly, I have really enjoyed compiling this post. I am very much looking forward to seeing Jersey Boys at the end of January – I will of course write a future post containing my thoughts about it. In the meantime, for those who have seen Jon in action then I hope you have enjoyed this, and for those who haven’t – why ever not? Get yourself some tickets to this toe tapping production and see what the fuss is all about.

Signing off for the final time in 2013, hope to see you all in 2014.

Keep Dreaming,

Naomi xx


Nadim Naaman Answers….

   Hi everyone. Today’s post is a little interview that Nadim Naaman very kindly did for me. I hope that all my interviewees know how grateful I am to them for taking their time out to answer my questions. Nadim is a talented actor who has played a number of roles in his acting career, most recently the part of Anatoly in Chess. Here we discuss how he got into acting, his exciting new album and the forthcoming production where you can catch him doing what he does best.

1. Did you always want to be an actor?

It took me a while to realise this is what I wanted to do for a living. I remember choosing my A-Levels as a sixteen-year-old and being torn between sciences and the arts, so I ended up doing two of each to keep my options open. I was a chorister at school, so singing was always a part of my life, but the theatre wasn’t ever something I encountered until I played an Apostle in Jesus Christ Superstar. Ironically, Will Barratt, who I understudied in my first year at Phantom, and who is now a writing partner and good friend, played Jesus. I was fourteen at the time, and I suppose you could say that was the turning point, as it led to my choosing to do drama academically and practically. But as a teenager I was equally into many other things; it wasn’t until I got to university that I realised quite how much I loved performing. Until that stage it had always been a hobby – a brilliant one, but a hobby nonetheless. It got to the point where I was sacrificing my degree for the sake of being in plays and musicals. I fought back in my final year to get a 2:1, but I definitely prioritised performing and by that stage had accepted a place to train at the Royal Academy of Music. No regrets.

2. If you weren’t acting, what would you be doing instead?

I suppose the two things that I still pursue alongside acting – writing and teaching. I have always enjoyed teaching, particularly since I started as a private tutor a few years ago. I’ve met some great youngsters, and tracking their progress is so rewarding. I’ve also worked with large groups, which is a huge contrast to one-on-one teaching, but equally rewarding. I teach singing, drama and English language and literature. But it’s writing that really gets me going. Writing music, writing plays, writing articles. It’s something I still pursue – I contribute to theatre blogs and sites, and also write for a football magazine.

3. And how about in your spare time? What do you like to do to unwind?

I am a huge sports fan. Football, tennis, golf, cricket, running, skiing, the gym… I’ve always been an outdoors and active person, and will usually be found playing or watching sports. Even on a night out with friends, I’ll be trying to squeeze in some pool, darts, or my favourite, bowling. I love it. I am a huge Arsenal fan, and try to get to as many matches as possible. As I mentioned before, I have written for an Arsenal magazine called The Gooner for four years now. Sports aside, I’m a foodie, and love cooking (and eating).

4. You have been in a variety of roles over the last year, in productions such as Marguerite, Chess and of course Phantom Of The Opera. Do you have a favourite? If so, why?

That’s a tough one. Each production has given me something unique. Marguerite allowed me to meet Alain Boublil, and forced me to become a better pianist. Chess was a production I am deeply proud to have been a part of. The role of Anatoly was a gem, and to meet the likes of Sir Tim Rice and Elaine Paige, who were so supportive of us all… It was a very special few months with a wonderful company. But then Phantom is Phantom. I saw it as a student, and Ramin [Karimloo] was Raoul. I remember thinking that was a part I would love to do, and being blown away by the show as a whole. I must have seen it at least six or seven times by the time I auditioned for it, and will never forget the first time I saw John Owen-Jones sing the title role. It was epic. Fast forward eight or nine years, and he was back in the role, and was the Phantom for my first ever show as Raoul, belting out right at me during the final lair scene. He shook my hand at the curtain call, and that was when it hit me that I was in this show that I had loved for years, and was working with someone I had been wowed by as a teenager. It was a wonderful two years at Her Majesty’s – a brilliant theatre full of brilliant people.

5.You’re soon to perform in a new production of Titanic the Musical. What can you tell us about it/what can we expect?
It’s a gorgeous score, and as we all know, a tragic story. Not many people realise it won multiple Tony Awards, including Best Musical and Best Score for Maury Yeston. It also came out before the James Cameron film in 1997. What’s nice in this version of the Titanic tale is that the focus is on the human beings aboard the ship. Because we all know the plot already, the musical can afford to speak about characters more than anything else. There are no Hollywood special effects, no stuntmen falling into water from a height of fifty feet, no CGI… Every character in the musical was actually a passenger or crew member on board the liner. You can Google them and see what they looked like and read their stories. The focus is on their relationships, why they are on the ship and why they are going to America. Titanic stories are often about the ship itself – this one is about the people on her, and characters that you may think you know from previous versions are explored in much more detail, with much more humanity. There’s no Jack and Rose, either.

6. If not already detailed, please tell us about the character(s) you play.
There will be lots of doubling up of roles in the show, as the company of twenty will be playing some fifty characters in total. My main focus is that of Charles Clarke. Charles was a journalist travelling in Second Class with his fiancée Lady Caroline Neville. There are underlying tensions in their relationship as she is the daughter of a Lord who does not approve of her relationship with the son of a grocer. They are drawn to America where class isn’t an issue.

7. If you could perform in any show, which would you choose and why?
I have to say Les Mis, because aside from Phantom it is the show that I first got to know and love, and the music will always give me goosebumps. But I also love Miss Saigon, West Side Story, and many of Sondheim’s shows, particularly Into The Woods, Sweeney Todd and Assassins. The most specific role I can think of is Joe Gillis in Sunset Boulevard. It’s a great sing, and a real acting role. The dialogue and lyrics in Sunset are such a great mixture of gritty and witty, and it’s one of my favourite scores.

8. If different to the above do you have a dream role and/or a song from a show (male or female) that you would particularly like to sing?
Aside from those already mentioned, Fabrizzio in The Light In The Piazza. It’s one of the most breathtaking scores I’ve ever heard. You see, every ten seconds you remember yet another amazing piece.
With Nadim after the 'A Little Night Music' concert, 16/06/13

With Nadim after the ‘A Little Night Music’ concert, 16/06/13

9. So….your album. Very excited about this. Are you able to tell us any more about it? Any sneak peeks? 😉
I’ve been writing songs for many years now, but have mostly done nothing with them, or written things for other people to sing. The album is happening because of the encouragement of many close friends and colleagues who persuaded me I should do something with my own songs. It is called “We All Want The Same”, and it will be available from August 23rd. It features eleven songs that have been written over the last four or five years. One is a collaboration with Will Barratt, which we started during our Phantom days, almost forgot about, and then rediscovered a few months ago. All the songs tell their own story – some are about me, some are about other people, and some inspired by places, events and memories. The songs definitely have a musical theatre flavour, but are more pop/rock than show-tune. Hopefully you will hear a balance of what you already know of me, and a side you haven’t heard before.
Purchase and pre-order details will be available a month before the album is released. I’m sure that’ll also include some sneaky clips of what you can expect. I’ll also be doing some gigs to play some of the songs, and share some influences and the stories behind them. Twitter (@NadimNaaman) will be the most efficient way of getting all the information.

10. Do you play any instruments? If so are you playing on your album at all?
I play piano and guitar, and wrote all the songs on either of these two instruments. My producer, the amazing Joe Davison at Auburn Jam Music, is a much better pianist than I am, and so on the piano-led tracks I taught him the songs which he played in the studio. They definitely sound better as a result! The guitar parts are all me.

11. What has been the highlight of your career to date?
I would say my two years at Phantom, including the 25th celebrations at The Albert Hall, gave me so much. I met some of the most important people in my life during that job, and had over seventy shows as Raoul as Killian Donnelly spent many weeks on the Les Mis film. It was a wonderful time and feel very lucky to have experienced it. But the feeling of playing a part on the West End stage for the first time just edges it. I joined the Sound of Music at the Palladium at its first cast change, as first cover Rolf. After a wonderful year that taught me so much, I was offered the role and took over for the show’s final six months. To stand on that stage, not as an understudy, but knowing I had the chance to call the role my own… That was the moment it really hit me that I’d set out to be a performer and I had done it. I loved every minute.

12. Has anything embarrassing ever happened to you on stage? Or have you ever found yourself wanting to laugh about something? Can you tell us??
In the Sound of Music a six-year-old Gretl once walked behind the Von Trapp sofa mid-scene for a pee. She just couldn’t wait. The actor playing Franz and I lost it. I fell over in The Last Five Years in Edinburgh when singing “Shiksa Goddess”. The idea was that Jamie and Cathy had been on their first date and he had one too many beers. I obviously took this rather literally and was so in the moment that I missed a chair and hit the deck. Someone also happened to be recording the audio of that particular show which has done the rounds online. Cringe. Lastly, a favourite from Phantom. During the Don Juan rehearsal scene in Act Two, when Madame Giry and Carlotta stand off (“can you be certain of that?”), a brass player in the orchestra pit decided to clear his mouthpiece, but blew a little too much air into his instrument. The timing of it, the silence, what the actors were doing, the noise, the fact that every instrument in the pit is amplified by a mic… It was just like a very loud, very well-timed fart that echoed around Her Majesty’s. It was impossible on stage.

13. Describe yourself in three words?
Aware. Passionate. Grateful.  

14. What single item/ one thing couldn’t you live without?
A cliché, but music. I simply can’t get enough of it. I’m assuming my loved ones are a given, here. Music and my loved ones.

15. Is there anything else you would like to achieve within your career? Do you fancy doing TV/Film work etc?
I would love to see how many avenues of the performing industry I can explore. Aside from acting and writing, I did lots of directing throughout university and drama school, which I would love to revisit. I would love the opportunity to work in television and film. I would love to do more work as a musician, not necessarily as a singer or in musicals… Who knows what the future holds? I am an extremely ambitious person, but I am also a realist. All I can ask is that I am fortunate enough to carry on doing what I love and earn a living at the same time. Anything else is a bonus.

16. Do you ever suffer from nerves and if so, how do you deal with them?
I still get nervous on the first night of any show, but I think I learnt to turn those nerves into energy. If you have prepared well, and you know what you are doing, the feeling of nerves are most likely a combination of adrenalin and an anxiety to know what your audience will think of your performance. Trust in what your creative team have done, how the show works as a whole and just get out there and give it your all. That adrenalin, if channelled with focus, can take your performance to a new level. The challenge is then recreating that intensity over a long run – rediscovering those feelings and thoughts as if you’re walking on stage in the role for the first time.
Once again enormous thanks to Nadim for being so obliging. I hope that this interview will mean you will all rush out and book tickets to Titanic The Musical at Southwark Playhouse – the link to do this is here:
And do all keep your eyes peeled for any announcements regarding the album. I think our ears are all going to be in for a treat.

Apologies for any formatting issues if you see any, my internet etc does not want to cooperate tonight. As ever thank you all for reading.

Keep Dreaming,

Naomi xx

Things are…’Looking Up’

Finally! The day I have been waiting for for what seems like an eternity is here! In actual fact, I have only been waiting since the official announcement was made on October 12th 2012 that there was to be an album, but it seems so much longer. This morning ‘Looking Up’ by Simon Bailey landed on my doormat. In actual fact, three copies did, but we won’t be fussy about details!

I’m sure anyone who has read my previous posts will know that this is terribly exciting for me, but as a huge supporter of the performer Simon Bailey, the release of his debut album is as if all my Christmases and birthdays have come at once. Needless to say I have had it on a continuous loop since it arrived at 10 am and it was so worth the wait.

Looking Up is a collection of songs ranging from classic tunes through to self penned compositions but the one thing which is overwhelmingly apparent is the emotion and honesty which fills the entire album. The focus throughout is on the vocals (and rightly so). It begins with ‘Sing For The Angels’, one of Simon’s own songs and one which had been previously released (in the extrememly basic form of Simon plus his guitar in a hotel room) on YouTube. This new version has a lovely melody, you almost want to sway to the tune.

Here is that original rendition :

Second is ‘Dance With My Father’, a song previously released by Luther Vandross. It is clear through listening to it, that although he had no input into writing Dance with My Father that Simon means every word he sings.

Katie Hall (who appears alongside Simon in The Phantom of the Opera as Christine) joins Simon on track 3, a duet by Jason Robert Brown called ‘I’d Give It All For You’. What a voice she has! The two voices work well together and make for a very (surprisingly) catchy tune. The diction from both is excellent – something I often find lacking within albums – meaning you can understand every word.

This video is a portion of the song from when it was performed at ‘West End Fests’

‘The Distance You Have Come’ is next. This was penned by Scott Alan, a writer who I very much admire and it suits Simon’s vocals perfectly. It also seems very appropriate for lots of reasons, not least because he is currently touring with ‘Phantom’. If you get the chance, check out Mr Alan’s ‘Live’ album, it is well worth a listen.

Another of Mr Bailey’s own compositions is next, this one titled ‘The Everchanging’. As with Sing for the Angels, this also had a version relesased on You Tube. I adore what Tom Deering has done with arranging these songs. He has taken something lovely and made it beautiful This applies to everyone of Simon’s originals, but I also love what he has done with the others.

The link to The Everchanging (performed when the poor chap had a chest infection!)

One of my all time favourite songs has an airing on this album. The Evanescence version is soulful, almost haunting and sung by a female. This rendition has all of those attributes and while remaining as the song I know and love, Simon has also made it his own. It really is stunning, I particularly like the addition of the strings.

Ramin Karimloo is the next of the special guests. His version of ‘Murder In The City’ is becoming quite famous among his supporters, but he and Simon also released a rough version (again in a hotel room with a single guitar) which went down a storm. Much to the delight of many, the two collaborated a couple of weeks ago when Simon joined Ramin on stage at his Broadway to Bluegrass…Ish gigs to sing this number. I’m so glad it is on the album, even if it does get stuck in your head!

Once again, the very basic form of ‘Murder in the City’ :

Simon’s third song is next. Looking Up contains four songs which he wrote himself. As with the others, this is tuneful, thoughtful and honest. I thoroughly enjoy his writing style and Tom Deering really has added something with his musical prowess. I had not heard ‘I Can’t Stop The Rain’ before but I’m delighted it has been included here.

I have wanted, for quite some time, to hear Simon sing ‘Tears In Heaven’. Better known as the song Eric Clapton wrote for his son, I have long thought that Simon’s vocals would suit this song. I couldn’t have been more thrilled when I heard this was going to be included. And I was right. It works. So well it is as though it was written for him. What I particularly love about it is that it is raw. Vocals and piano. That’s it. And that’s all it needs. I am an absolute blubbing mess but I wouldn’t change it for anything. Words cannot even express how absolutely stunning this is.

‘Once’ the Musical is coming out in London’s West End during 2013 and it has been well publicised and well awarded. ‘Falling Slowly is a lovely song taken from the show and Sasbrina Aloueche joins him for the female parts. The two have voices which work so well together and although it is not a song I know well I think it is a great choice and fits in well with the others.

A surprise inclusion is ‘Travelin Thru’ by Dolly Parton. When you hear it you can see why it was added and it is not really that random, but as a female Country star, Parton would not be the obvious choice. I am a but of a Dolly Parton fan anyway, so was curious to see how this would turn out, but it’s great. Of course it is!

Rounding the album off is ‘Goodbye’. I have written about this song before and some of you have seen Simon perform it first hand. Songs don’t get much more personal than this one and you can hear the emotion in every word. Written following his Father’s death last year I defy anyone not to be moved to tears by this. Words aside, it is a lovely melody, but the lyrics break my heart. I cannot thank Simon enough for sharing something so deeply personal.

Once again, I know I have added it before, but here is ‘Goodbye’

Complete with an autograph and booklet this album is a triumph. Credit must go to Simon Greiff (SimG Productions) for bringing this into fruition. To Tom Deering who is quite simply a genius. A wonderful choice of guest singers – Katie, Ramin and Sabrina – and a fantastic band, compllete with Hadley Fraser and a string quartet from ‘Phantom’. The tracks have been left with the vocals exposed, an almost raw sound, but this works. The accompaniment is there, just as much as is needed, and for certain songs just a simple piano or piano and strings is absolutely spot on.

I won’t lie, I had massive expectations for Looking Up. I wasn’t, however, expecting it to knock me for six as it has done. I’ve smiled at the beautiful melodies and I have cried at the words. I have been on a rollercoaster of emotions. I am so very proud of Simon for what he has acheived. This is an absolute work of art and without a doubt it should be on everybody’s Christmas lists. No matter which musical genre you are into, this should appeal. If you aren’t moved by this then you must be very hard hearted. I hope the attached videos will help with your decision to purchase this.I can guarantee you wont regret it.

Purchase Looking Up here:

Check out his facebook page:

Check out his Producer’s other projects here:

Follow Simon on Twitter – @simonBailey1210
Follow Katie Hall – @Katie1Hall
Follow Sabrina – @sabssnowglobe
Follow Ramin – @raminkarimloo
Follow Scott Alan – @ScottAlanNet

And if you like what you have read, please follow me @JustSamssister

Keep Dreaming, I’m off to listen again’
Naomi x

Exciting times ahead

Today I feel rather sad and rather excited at the same time. I’m not really sure why I feel sad, though I was going to be heading to London today to watch the fabulous Les Miserables. This has turned out not to be the case but friends of mine have gone, so I am equally sad not to have a catch up with them all. I do hope I get to go again soon, I wouldn’t mind seeing Sierra Boggess as Fantine, but I especially want to see Tam Mutu’s interpretation of Inspector Javert. I’ve heard nothing but good. I have seen it three times before, the last cast I saw had Ramin Karimloo playing the lead against Hadley Fraser’s equally (if, in my opininon, not stronger) brilliant Javert.

I am, however, VERY excited about the release of the Les Miserables movie, and I have been keeping myself occupied by watching (repeatedly) the newly released, longer trailer. For those of you who know nothing about this show, the movie has some big names in it such as Hugh Jackman (Jean Valjean) and Russell Crowe (Javert). I have to assume these have been cast in order to widen the appeal of the film to the more general viewing public, and as it stands I shall reserve judgement on the singing abilities until I have seen the whole thing. I know Hugh Jackman is a talented performer (and easy on the eye with it) and I believe that all the singing was done ‘live’ so kudos to them all. As a musical theatre fan I know they have cast many past and present cast members to be in the smaller roles too and I’m pleased about this as they are every bit as (if in some cases not more) talented as the ‘stars’. Samantha Barks should undoubtedly get a mention as for sure she will steal the show as Eponine. I am also looking forward to the cameo role of Hadley Fraser.

In case you have not managed to see the trailer, you need to have your appetite whetted, so please take a look at this link. I almost want to cry watching it and I have to say I feel sorry for whoever comes with me to see it as there will be tears. A LOT of tears! My big disappointment at this present time is that we have to wait until 11 January 2013 to see it. It really can’t come quickly enough! Eeeeeeeeeeepppppppp!

You all by now probably know how much I love the Phantom Of The Opera and Les Mis is in the same league. Epic and incredible. But one reason I am currently enjoying the Phantom tour so much is because my all time favourite performer (and, in all honesty, favourite person) is in it. He has been in both Les Mis and Phantom previously and is one of the nicest people you’ll meet, not to mention a brilliant performer with a wonderful voice. Simon Bailey has been in the theatre business for around 10 years and has been in all sorts of roles, but the reason I am talking about him today is because in the VERY near future he has an album coming out. For me this is the most exciting release in a long time – better than any other album or cinema release! He has been in the studio all week recording and I believe it is all down to the finishing touches now.

I am ridiculously excited and I really, genuinely hope that ‘Looking Up’ (as it is titled) is a massive success for Simon. He works so hard and has contributed four of his own compositions to this album. Two can be previewed on YouTube (in their original form and they are both beautiful) but I simply cannot wait to hear what the amazing Tom Deering has added to them. Combine these with the talents of Sabrina Aloueche, Ramin Karimloo, Katie Hall and even some jammin’ bass by Hadley it is an absolute MUST HAVE! It can be pre-ordered now (needless to say, I ordered the minute it was possible to do so) and Simon is going to sign all the pre ordered copies. Thats’s GOT to be worth having. Pre-order here:  As an absolute die hard supporter of this guy I am doing everything in my power to ensure this is a success, though in truth, just the fact that it is by Simon should be enough. I often think I annoy him as I go to see him a lot (though he is always gracious and totally lovely) but I really do hope that my support is appreciated and I hope he knows if he ever needs anything or wants me to do something for him then I would bend over backwards to help. I miss him! And in case you wanted to witness him ‘doing his thing’ you can catch him as Raoul in the POTO tour (currently in Milton Keynes). You know,  just in case you need proof of his quality!

So there is much excitement at the moment and in the build up to Christmas I have a lot going on which I hope to write about, such as a visit to West End Fests next weekend. This is a charity event but with the line up of talent involved it is more like a gala! Held in Covent Garden, there will be a whole host of musical theatre performers appearing and it looks set to be a really brilliant evening. Not to mention the after party! If you are interested, here is the link: I believe there are even a few half price tickets available…so go get ’em!

I also have a couple of singing lessons (I will say more about these when I know they are not a total disaster) arranged, a Ramin Karimloo gig (or two) to attend, and it goes without saying that before the year is out I will have returned a few times to see the Phantom tour. I’m just trying to be patient while I wait for it to come to Cardiff. I really don’t like all this waiting, especially hearing others that are going! I just want to be there too! I have just realised that my blog today sounds like an advertisement. It’s not meant to be, I was hoping just to share some of my passions with you and give you a chance to see what I’m banging on about. Who knows, you may feel inspired or excited too!

For now, I will put on a soundtrack to listen to while I clean my house and I shall sing at the top of my lungs while doing so. I hope the neighbours will appreciate their education into decent music haha! This week at work has been a tough one and it is the thought of the weekends and the events that I am heading to soon which are keeping me going. So off I go, to get up to my elbows cleaning the toilet, and using the bathroom acoustics as my theatre I shall bid you farewell for now and I cannot wait to report on all the forthcoming excitement.

Keep dreaming,

Naomi x