Saturday, 16 December 2017

INTERVIEW: Simon Lipkin, currently starring in Nativity the Musical at London's Eventim Apollo

Simon is currently playing Mr Poppy in the new musical adaptation of the hit film Nativity, a part that Marc Wootton played in the film. His other credits include Rat in The Wind In The Willows (Palladium, West End), Sheriff in Whisper House (Other Palace), Nathan Detroit in Guys and Dolls (West End), Lou Lubowitz in Miss Atomic Bomb (St James Theatre), The Lorax in The Lorax (Old Vic Theatre), The Proprietor in Assassins (Menier Chocolate Factory), Barlow in I Can’t Sing (London Palladium), Lonny in Rock Of Ages (Original West End Cast), Galahad in Spamalot (Original UK and International Tour), Nicky and Trekkie Monster in Avenue Q(Original West End Cast), I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change (Arts Theatre, London), The Wedding Singer (Original UK Cast) and Pharaoh in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (West End). He took some time out of his run at the London Eventim Apollo to chat to us. 

You really are someone who seems to go from job to job, your list of credits are crazy! What have been some of the highlights of your career so far?

There have been some amazing moments, and I will always count myself as very lucky. Avenue Q was incredible and it was my first leading role, but there has also been some other brilliant stuff – Assassins at the Menier Chocolate Factory will always be a special one. There’s been a lot and they’re all very cool and special in their own ways. 

You’re pretty fresh from playing Rat in the London Palladium production of The Wind in the Willows, how was it performing in your third show at the Palladium?

The Palladium is a really cool theatre. It’s one of those where the history is undeniable and a lot of the people I respect and have grown up watching have performed on that stage. When I was 11 years old I used to go to a Saturday stage school and we all did a big show at the Palladium and I sang ‘Dedicated Follower of Fashion’ on the stage at the Palladium when I was about 11 years old so technically it was my fourth time performing there with Wind in the Willows! 

The characters you’ve played are so varied; a rat, Nathan Detroit, A dog, Trekkie Monster, Pharaoh. The list is endless! What your favourite kind of character to play? 

I love comedy, so my favourite characters are always ones that are based in comedy. There have not been many parts I’ve played that have not been comedic as I love doing that sort of stuff. It’s great when you get a character that is funny but has a lot of stuff going on underneath. I would love to play some more dark and serious roles as time goes on but I love the funny stuff, and making audiences laugh. 

We can’t not talk about the fabulous Rebel Wilson who you worked with on Guys and Dolls ay the Phoenix Theatre, we saw it and you two were brilliant together. How was it playing opposite her? 

Playing opposite Rebel Wilson was amazing – she’s a wonderful woman, funny kind and generous! I was nervous of course to be working with someone of her calibre but she was brilliant to work with and hopefully we will do it again one day. 

You’ve worked on a lot of shows with puppetry over your career which is quite a unique skill, how did that come about?

Yeah, I’ve done a lot of puppet stuff! I love them! It’s a skill that’s been really good to me I guess over the years. I learned for Avenue Q and it all just went from there and now it’s one of those things that always will be by my side. Gotta love some puppets! 

If you could return to any show you’ve done before, which would it be and why?

This is hard! I would love to do Avenue Q again, purely because I was 20 years old when that show opened so I was quite young and I’d love to do it again with more experience. I did a show called I Love You You’re Perfect Now Change at The Arts and it was just me, Julie Atherton, Gina Beck and Sam Holmes. It’s a show that gets written off as something that cant really be done but I loved it and I’d sort of like to that again! 

Do you have any dream roles you’d like to play?

There’s a couple, but not like a full role. Barnum has always been one, which they’re doing at the Menier Chocolate Factory at the moment. I might like to be Billy Flynn in Chicago, maybe Frank N Furter from Rocky Horror. There’s a few, there are lots of roles that would be fun to play. If we rework them all with puppets in them, maybe I’ll have more of a chance! 

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

Yeah I had seen the films! Four years ago I got a call and was asked to be in a workshop of Nativity and I loved the films like so many other people did so I was very excited to be part of it. 

Have you taken anything from Marc Wootton’s performance in the film?

Of course I have taken something from Marc’s performance! He created this character with Debbie Isitt and it would be silly not to honour what he has created across the three films. If I was to ignore any of that I think audiences would be a bit disappointed so what I’ve tried to do is take the essence of what he’s created and that child like quality but do it in my way. It’s like anything – you never want to do an impression of someone you want to take the spirit of what someone brings to a part and use that. I wouldn’t be doing the job I’m doing if it wasn’t for Marc’s brilliant performance.

Has this show made you more excited for or sick of Christmas? 

I LOVE Christmas so the show has not made me sick of Christmas, I’m excited! Even though it’s set at Christmas and about a Nativity it’s not that Christmassy, it’s more about friendship, the kids, overcoming problems and has definitely not made me sick of Christmas at all! 

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

Some of them, definitely not! They’re going to stay locked away! There have been lots – my trousers have fallen down, I’ve fallen over! I forget my lines a lot, which is never good, one time I was on stage with a good friend of mine and we were doing a scene and got the giggles until someone in the audience shouted “come on boys, get it together!”, and when the audience are giving you notes you know it’s gone wrong! 

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

Joyous, festive fun for all the family. Come see it!
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