Tuesday, 1 November 2016

INTERVIEW: Ben Richards, currently starring in THE BODYGUARD at the Dominion Theatre

Ben Richards is currently playing Frank in The Bodyguard at the Dominion Theatre opposite soul Queen, Beverley Knight. His other credits include laddin (Shaw Theatre); Rock of Ages (UK tour); Oliver!(Sheffield Crucible); 9 to 5 (UK tour); Priscilla Queen of the Desert (Palace Theatre), Guys And Dolls (Piccadilly Theatre); Grease (Victoria Palace Theatre and UK tour); The Full Monty (Prince of Wales Theatre); Saturday Night Fever (London Palladium); Smokey Joes CafĂ©(Prince of Wales Theatre) and Grease (Dominion Theatre). On TV he has played Ben Bradley in Hollyoaks; Mr Kit in Doctors; PC Nate Roberts in The Bill; Justin in Holby City; Gayle Tuesday; Bruno Milligan in Footballers WivesFootballers Wives Extra Time; and Dad.

First of all, how is it being back at the Dominion Theatre? It's been a little while since Grease...
It's great being back at the Dominion Theatre, this place holds a lot of great memories and where I got my break into playing roles when I took over the role of Kenickie in Grease

You're no stranger to a jukebox musical, or those based on movies, how do you prepare for a show like this? Do you watch the movie or keep well away and create your own character?
I did watch the movie just to remind myself of it and to get a feel of it, but as with all projects be it film, tv, or theatre, I will go through a process during rehearsals or in my own time to make the character and get my performance up to speed.

A lot of people perhaps shun movie to musical adaptions but there's a place for them if done right. What is it about The Bodyguard that means it sells out on tour and then comes back into the West End for a second time? 
I think you have to judge a musical by its content, performances, and overall production value. Whether it's from a movie or completely original is of no interest to me, it's either good or not.
This piece is visually stunning, filled with great songs, has the original writer of this great movie writing the book, and has a stellar cast led by Beverley Knight, what's not to like.

Then the show is moving to Toronto? 
We take the show to Toronto in February next year for three months, it's going to be quite an adventure for the company.

The role of Frank Farmer has everything, he goes on a journey of discovery, he explores feelings for both Nicki and Rachel, he's serious, but loveable, sings a bit even if drunkenly... what's he like for an actor to play? 
Frank is a great character to play as he is on a completely different level to anyone else in the piece.
A serious, professional in the midst of this showbiz environment that is completely alien to him. The journey and subsequent drama is fun to play.

And it is more of an acting role this, it's almost as if the musical element just happens around Frank... 
This is definitely an acting role, the one time we do hear Frank sing is not a pretty sound.

The Bodyguard reunites two of Memphis The Musical's phenomenal leading ladies - Beverley Knight and Rachel John - what is it like to share the stage with them night after night?
Beverley and Rachel are both performers at the top of their game and we are lucky to have them in the show, off stage they are just Bev and Rach which sets a great tone for the company.

The entire cast are on top of their game though, right? 
This whole cast are a joy to work with, each hugely talented, but collectively grounded and kind.

Looking back over some of your other theatre roles, on tour and in London, do you have any favourites or that stand out for any particular reason? 
I've been lucky to have such a diverse career, playing different and exciting characters.
The parts I'm being offered now are by far the most interesting.

Lots of actors will tell you that they prefer the instant reaction of theatre over film or TV work - do you feel the same?
It's a great to be back in a Theatre with the buzz of a live audience every night, but equally I love the collective experience of a film and tv set and the different challenges that presents. I just feel fortunate I have been able to experience both.

Interview by Scott Bird

The Bodyguard runs at the Dominion Theatre until 7th January 2017

Click here to buy tickets 
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