Thursday, 29 June 2017

INTERVIEW: Ashley Gilmour, starring as Chris in the UK tour of MISS SAIGON


You were in the ensemble of the London production of Miss Saigon, how does it feel to now be one of the leads on the UK tour? 
It feels pretty cool if I’m honest! I find myself standing there on the set and thinking three years ago I was in the ensemble, and now I’m playing the leading role! It’s crazy that in such a short space of time that’s happened, but it’s nice for people to see if you work hard and you put your mind to it then it’s possible, you can achieve it. 


Your co-star, Sooha Kim, also was in the shows ensemble before taking over the lead on this tour and playing Kim in Japan. So how has it been going on that journey with her and finding the characters for yourself?
We have had a lot of fun rehearsing, the material is fantastic, it’s just beautiful and so much fun to sing the songs. It’s lovely. Sooha has been helping me a lot, she’s played Kim before so she knows what she’s doing so it’s been really nice to have someone who knows what they’re doing to help you and give you confidence. We’ve really supported each other and I think that’s really important when you’re playing opposite each other. 


How does this tour compare to the London revival?
It’s kind of exactly the same to be honest, being on the set now is almost identical to being on the set in London, which is something Cameron Mackintosh is really passionate about. When he produces a show - it doesn’t matter if it’s a tour, in the West End or Broadway, he will produce it to the best of his ability with the utmost passion and no aspect of the show is stripped back or made less impressive. Everything we had in London is here, and that’s so important because it’s only fair audiences get the full experience. The show is produced to an incredible standard, like nothing I’ve ever been in before. 

You were a part of the recording of the show, both on CD and the DVD.
How was it being a part of that? 
It was really cool, and it’s really cool that you can go on Spotify and here me singing in the original West End revival cast. The DVD was amazing, it was recorded on the 25th Anniversary night which was such a cool night – we performed the show and then on came the original cast and people involved in the production over the years. It was amazing to see so many people come together on one stage and it was particularly nice to see Jon Jon, for instance, who was in the original cast standing on a stage full of people that he started his career and now those he’s carrying on his career with. It was really special! 

You’ve most recently finished playing Link in the UK tour of Hairspray, a slightly different show to Miss Saigon! What was your fondest memory of that show?
It’s such a great part, Link Larkin, it was great fun and I loved It Takes Two, that was my favourite song. There are some lovely songs and it’s a really fun show. It’s very different to Miss Saigon! 

And how many cans of hairspray did you actually get through?! 
Too many! I had a ritual, because I wanted to look after my hair having heard many stories of Link Larkin’s whose hair at the end of a run has not been in the best state! I would wash my hair and put hair oil in it! 

You’ve not been out of Drama School very long and you’re already leading in huge musicals, did you think you’d be doing this so soon after graduating?
I always believed that I could, but I never thought it would happen this quickly if I’m honest! I’ve almost skipped a few years, I’ve been very very lucky and had some really good chances. I think it’s important to believe you can do it, and to work hard and be a good company member. It’s a lot about being given the chance, I can’t be any more thankful to the creative team and the producers. There are people a lot more experienced than me with a lot more work under their belt but they trusted me enough to give me a chance! 

How has your training at Arts Educational Schools prepared you for this? 
The training at Arts Ed is the best I think, if I hadn’t have gone there I wouldn’t be where I am now for sure. It prepares you for everything in every way. You get pushed so far and to such extremes that when you’re in a real audition this feels normal, natural. You learn all these different techniques and things like that, which allow you to perform to the best of your ability eight shows a week. It’s so important to be able to do Monday night as well as you’re doing Saturday night. You can’t ever do this show half heartedly, it has to be 100% effort every night and that comes from having a good technique. I loved Arts Ed and I think it’s one of the best places there is for what we do. The shows put on by the third year students are of a professional standard and that’s amazing. 

What was your most and least favourite part about touring? 
It’s nice to see lots of different cities. Before I did Hairspray there were many parts of the country I hadn’t been to so that was pretty cool. It was hard doing weekly touring, it’s difficult to move on so quickly as you never really get to settle down. So in this tour it will be really nice to settle down for a longer period of time, explore the cities we are in and get to know them a bit. 

What place are you most excited about visiting on this tour?
I’ve never been to Dublin so that will be a really cool one and I love Edinburgh. I think Edinburgh is the most beautiful city that I’ve ever been to. 

What are some of your dream roles?
I would love to play Elder Price in The Book of Mormon, I think that would be really fun. I’d also love to play Jack in Newsies. I’d like to do something a bit more classic as well like Don Lockwood in Singin’ In The Rain. 

Why should people come and see this production of Miss Saigon? 
People should come and see this production of Miss Saigon because I think there’s a lot to be learned from it. It’s important for people to experience and see those stories being told, because at the end of the day it’s still happening now and it will happen forever because we never learn. We are always going to war with someone. There’s always going to be families torn apart, relationships being torn apart, people fleeing their homes and refugees. As a human race we never really learn to accept differences and appreciate everyone and love everyone. I think that’s what makes the show so powerful – in amongst all this greed, violence and death there is this beautiful moving love story. Hopefully we can tell that story gracefully and people will go on that journey with us.
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