Wednesday, 24 January 2018

INTERVIEW: Bradley Jaden, currently playing Fiyero in WICKED at the Apollo Victoria Theatre

Bradley is currently playing Fiyero in the London production of WICKED after having played the role in the international tour of the show earlier this year. His other credits include ‘Enjolras’ in Les Misérables (Queen’s and 30th Anniversary cast), ‘Freddie’ in My Fair Lady 60th Anniversary Celebration (St Paul’s Actors Church), Ghost the Musical (No 1 UK Tour) and Shrek The Musical (Theatre Royal, Drury Lane). He took time out his busy 8 show week schedule and health regime to give us an insight to his life in the smash hit musical. 

You’ve transferred into the London production of Wicked after playing Fiyero in the UK and International tour. What happened when you got the offer to come into town with the show? 

It was a bit of a dream really because when I agreed to do the international tour it wasn’t finishing until January 2018 so to have the opportunity to audition for the town production was out of mind and wasn’t even on my radar, and Oliver Saville was doing such a wonderful job, I don’t think they wanted to lose him so I didn’t even think it was on the cards! So, when I found out there was a chance I could audition for it, of course I wanted to jump on it. 

So you had to go back through the audition process again?

Of course, anything can happen over a year: you can become lazy and complacent and the creative team didn’t want that to then transpire from tour to town and they want to make sure they’re getting the best and if there’s someone else out there that can do it much better than you, I don’t think just because you’ve played the role somewhere doesn’t mean it’s a given you can play it somewhere else. 

Looking back on your time in the show, how has you Fiyero changed? 

I think it changes every night, I’m so pleased I get to work with some incredible actors in the ensemble and the two witches. The girls I had on tour were absolutely incredible but different to the ones who are equally incredible in town. The character relationships have changed and even little things like the set, because it was a touring set, so slightly different little actions and movements can make such an impact on a scene so it has completely changed. I think I’ve got a little more confident in the old dance moves, 'Dancing Through Life' still to this day scares the life out of me. Hopefully we're trying every night to change it and not keep it stale but it definitely has developed from our opening night in Bradford. 

Prior to Wicked, you last performed with Alice Fearn when you were both understudies in Shrek (when the green was the other way round…). How does it feel to have come full circle?

To play a principle role was beyond my wildest dreams, I never thought that was even possible when I look back to how I started my career leaving drama school and the jobs I’ve taken, I didn’t think it was a possibility. So, for that I’m forever grateful and to get to work with someone like Alice who, when I started Shrek she was one of those people you looked at her CV and was blown away by and performing as Shrek to her Fiona was incredible but now if you’ve seen the show, her talent speaks for itself. She’s an absolute power-house and she’s incredible to watch and perform next to. I’m very fortunate to work with someone of that calibre. 

You also went on with Samantha Thomas (ensemble and Glinda U/S) playing Glinda and Fiyero, the last time you worked with her you played her father in Les Miserables! (Samantha understudied Cosette) Was that a little strange? 

We couldn’t believe it! I think it was to the day that we played Val Jean and Cosette and again, she’s a young talent who’s climbing the ranks and she’s incredible to watch and she’s as incredible an ensemble member as she is a leading lady. I think she’s definitely someone to watch out for, she’s proven that’s since she’s graduated and she’s already done a couple of incredible shows and performed those parts incredibly well. I’m very lucky to have her as an understudy and watch where she goes from there. 

We know about your weight loss and your strict health regime, could you tell us a little about what inspired you to get healthy and how you keep it up whilst performing 8 shows a week?

I think I’ve lost 6 and a half stone since I started and if I’m honest, I was in Shrek and I was playing the title role and Jeanine Tesori (writer of Shrek) was in the audience that night and she saw me afterwards and said “Look, I think you’d be a lot more successful if you lost weight” and until that point, if I’m honest, I didn’t even know I was overweight but looking back on it, I was 17 and a half stone and I was doing every job I possibly could to get a West End audition, there are so many jobs I haven’t got on my CV because I was trying to get as much experience and show the West End that I could at least work and be seen to audition as an ensemble member at that time. I was trying to bang at doors just to get an audition so when someone of her standards said that to me, something clicked and I think the next day I got up and started running on the spot! I think in our career there are so many talents coming out of drama school and if were not keeping up those standards then someone will take that job straight from underneath you. I never thought about losing weight or becoming a leading man at all, that wasn’t even on my radar. If you look at it through an image conscious way, which I guess we are at the moment unfortunately, I started to work a bit more once I had lost weight. Because of that I thought well I’ll just keep going because I want to work and get chances and through that I went into Ghost and Les Miserables and now look at where I am now. I don’t want to let that slip until someone says, “Actually, I don’t want to give you a job” and maybe then I’ll go to eating a few more pies!

At the moment, I get up at 6am every morning and I’m at the gym with some of my best friends and training 6 or 7 times a week, keeping a healthy diet. Occasionally, a couple of the guys in the show want to go in between shows so I’ll do that too. It’s a definite lifestyle, its something I’ve had to adapt to but like I said, if I don’t keep that up and maintain the way I audition, then someone else would take that from underneath me and you constantly have to keep working because everyone wants that opportunity and I’m very lucky to be in that position. 

Before Wicked, you were in Les Miserables, you moved from understudy to playing Enjolras full time. How did you react when you found out you’d be playing the principle role?

I had to re-audition and had to go through all the different rounds, I didn’t have to do the first few because they’d seen me in the show but I had to go through the whole process but everyone was auditioning again and all the new people were coming in so again, I was second cover and didn’t think in my wildest dreams I would be given that chance. I think I cried for two days after finding out! It was my dream role and was very lucky and very fortunate to play the role for the 30th anniversary. 

You also understudied Jean Valjean, do you think you’d ever like to return to the show to play this role?

That role is an absolute monster and anyone who takes on that role, it’s a marathon. It’s like Elphaba in this show. And of course, when I’m older I’d love to play it again. That role requires such a gravitas that you can only get with age and all be it an amazing actor, you need that age. Maybe when I have more maturity under my belt I would love to go back and do it 8 times a week. 

Wicked celebrated its 10th Anniversary in 2016 and is still experiencing amazing success around the world. What do you think the key to its success?

It has so many different stories and everyone can relate to it, you don’t even need to like musical theatre to come and watch this incredible piece of theatre. You have the stage, the lights, costumes, music, sound; and then of course you have all the incredible talent on stage. Taking the show around the world to so many different audiences, I think it touches people and you can relate to it following any characters in the piece. You can find a little bit of yourself in any of the characters. It pulls you in and allows you to have three hours of a bit of freedom. 

If Glinda's magic wand could put on any show and you could play any part, what would it be?

One of the roles I’d absolutely love to play would be the Phantom but I think that’s a big wish! I love the music in that and it was a show I adored growing up. 

Could you tell us an embarrassing on-stage story?

I only have one, when I was in Les Miserable there was a bit in the beginning of the second half and someone dropped something on stage and I thought I’d be the helpful person to pick it. I squatted down to pick it up and I split my trousers and I was unfortunately not wearing any underwear. I had a moment of sheer panic and I was sweating so much, I had to get off stage craft fully and had to steal someone’s trousers for the rest of the show! 

We’re celebrating 5 years of our website in January, so to celebrate this we’re asking people what theatre means to you? 

For me, theatre is escapism. I am a lot more confident on-stage than I am in real life. It’s nice to have a few hours where you can escape and forget about modern technology, put your phones away. Even when you go to the cinema you’re chatting and whatever but in theatre you can immerse yourself in this world. Forget your troubles and leave it at the door and watch the incredible things happen on stage. Pure escapism.
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