Saturday, 16 December 2017

INTERVIEW: Daniel Boys, currently starring in Nativity the Musical at London's Eventim Apollo

Daniel is currently playing Paul Maddens in the Musical adaptation of Nativity, the part made famous by Martin Freeman. His other credits include The Boys in the Band (Park Theatre/National Tour and transfer to Vaudeville Theatre), Miss Atomic Bomb (St James Theatre),  Spamalot (Playhouse), Avenue Q (Gielgud / Noel Coward),  Grease (Victoria Palace), RENT (Prince of Wales & National Tour), Sweeney Todd (Royal Festival Hall), Ordinary Days (Trafalgar Studios) and Wolfboy (Trafalgar Studios). He took some time out of his run at the London Eventim Apollo to chat to us. 

Your list of credits is extensive, but what have been a few highlights for you? 

I guess firstly playing Tony in West Side Story on the European tour in I think 2005. It was always one of my dream roles as I think it’s the most perfect, beautiful musical and touring round Europe was a highlight as I saw some wonderful places. Avenue Q which I did for two and a half years in the West End was very special. Earlier this year I got to be in The Boys In The Band which was a very special job as it was my first play, a brilliant play, and a wonderful cast led by the brilliant Mark Gatiss and I loved meeting him and his wonderful husband Ian. 

You’ve worked with fellow cast member Simon Lipkin before, how is it working with him again? 

Simon is brilliant, he’s a tour de force really and he’s perfect for this part of Mr Poppy. He’s just a wonderful actor to act opposite and as this show is predominantly improvised his improvisational skills are impressive and almost intimidating! 

Everybody knows the film Nativity, but could you give us a little brief explanation on what it’s about? 

So, Nativity is set at St Bernadette’s School and I play Mr Maddens, and I hate Christmas because my girlfriend dumped me at Christmas. I’m then told I have to direct the school Nativity which I have no desire to do whatsoever because I think the children are useless. Cut to me lying to a rival schoolteacher that Hollywood are coming to see our Nativity and Mr Poppy overhears me telling this lie and tells the whole of Coventry that Hollywood are coming to see the show. So then it’s about how I get Hollywood to come and see the school Nativity and all the antics that Mr Poppy brings along the way. 

How has the film translated onto the stage?

I think it’s translated brilliantly and we’ve had lots of comments from people who love the movie who say they love the show even more. You get to see more of the characters, we delve into the characters slightly more than in the film. Especially my relationship with Jennifer, my ex-girlfriend, is seen a lot more on stage than in the film. Also there are more songs – all the brilliant songs from the movie are in the musical and also some wonderful and catchy new songs. 

How have audiences been reacting to this? 

I’ve never been in a show quite like this in terms of audience reaction. We have had a standing ovation every single show and people literally leaping to their feet, it’s like being in a rock concert! It’s such a joy every night and seeing the audience singing along and clapping along to Sparkle and Shine at the very end. It’s phenomenal. 

Being in a Christmas show must have gotten your Christmas spirit up, how has it been having Christmas in the full front of your mind for so long?! 

It’s weird actually – we started rehearsals in September and all said how weird it felt singing about Christmas then but actually it’s gone so quickly and Christmas is now upon us so I am very excited! 

Previously to being cast in Nativity, had you ever seen the film?

I had seen the film! I’ve watched it lots so it was very exciting to even workshop the show. I think it’s a brilliant film and I think Martin Freeman is a genius. 

Have you taken anything from Martin Freeman’s performance in the film?

I don’t think I’ve taken anything from him – he’s incredible Martin Freeman and he’s wonderful in the film so I certainly didn’t want to do a Martin Freeman impression, I wanted to make the character my own. I was too intimidated to do that, and as an actor you don’t want to just copy someone else’s performance. 

You’ve been involved with a lot of new musical theatre over your career, Miss Atomic Bomb and Wolfboy for example, how important do you think it is that audiences get to experience new musicals?

I think it’s very important and I think there’s something not happening in this country to give new writers a chance and it’s so frustrating. When you look at Broadway with shows like Waitress, Hamilton and Dear Evan Hansen, all these writers having huge huge successes and in this country we just don’t have that. It would be great to give new musicals a chance, and I’m a big champion of that! I love discovering new talent and helping new writers create a career for themselves. 

You’ve been involved with so much over your career, but are there any roles you’d like to tackle? 

I really really want to create a role, create a character in a brand new musical. As much as I have created this role for Nativity, it’s still been a movie in the past so the character exists. I would love to be in a brand new show, a play or a musical, and be the original person to create the character. I think that would be very exciting. I would love to do some more TV as I’ve only sort of dipped my toe in that. 

Could you share with us your most embarrassing on-stage story? 

Again, very difficult question! Things go wrong all the time in live theatre which is sort of what I love about theatre. I’ve forgotten words, cracked on notes, been unable to sing because of laughing. I’m really bad for that – corpsing on stage. 

If you had to describe Nativity the musical in under 10 words, what would you say? 

The most perfect family Christmas show this year! Merry Christmas!
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