Thursday, 11 January 2018

INTERVIEW: Chris Peluso, currently starring in The Woman in White at the Charing Cross Theatre

Chris is currently starring the the new revival of The Woman in White at the Charing Cross Theatre. He made his West End debut, direct from working on Broadway, playing Chris in Miss Saigon at the Prince Edward Theatre. Since then he has gone on to star as Gaylord Ravenal in Showboat (New London), Nick Arnstein in Funny Girl (UK tour) and Death in Death Takes a Holiday (Charing Cross Theatre). His American credits include Mamma Mia, Beautiful, Wicked and Assassins. After opening the show in December, Chris takes a little time to chat to us about this revival of the Andrew Lloyd Webber classic. 

You first came over to the UK to play Chris in Miss Saigon, and have now become one of London’s favourite leading men. What made you want to hang around after Miss Saigon? 

I love London! The charming historic aesthetic is surreal. There is no greater city. Also the parks are all pet friendly! Since the majority of my life is spent with my awesome dog Peety this is a game changer. 

A lot of the shows you’ve done over on Broadway and over America are currently playing in the UK, would you ever like to return to any of these shows? 

I would love to get a change to be in Les Mis as either of the older male leads! I’d also love a change to play Gerry Goffin in beautiful some day! I love the role and the show! 

What are the main differences between Broadway and the West End? 

One of the biggest differences is that the West End has a group warm up before every performance where Broadways shows do not. It enables the cast to bond and spend time with one another in a setting outside of the confines of the production. I really value the times getting to see and chat with others I rarely do during the course of the show. 

Can you tell us one embarrassing on stage story?

When I was in my first show in NY, ASSASSINS, I was the off stage standby for The Balladeer/Lee Harvey Oswald played by Neil Patrick Harris. I believe it was my fourth time on and during a complex song called “The Ballad of Czolgosz” I utterly forgot the lyrics to the second verse and started repeating the first verse lyrics. Now Sondheim of course wrote the verses with a varying number of counts to the music. So my mishmash of first verse and second lyrics did not fully sync with music. It was about 30 seconds of horror. Ok all done right!? Wrong! After the show I was told by my mother that some guy was in the audience and everyone was excited about it. I asked her who. She said his name was Sondheim. I died. He was likely there to watch the understudy, me, go on. I was mortified. But considering that is the worst possible time to forget a lyric it has made my fear of messing up considerably less throughout the years! 

You’re returning to the Charing Cross Theatre after appearing in Death Takes a Holiday, what do you like about performing at this theatre? 

I love this theatre! It has such a great energy and look for somewhat eerie shows like The Woman in White. The opening and closing of the show in fact take place in a rail station and you can frequently hear the rumble of trains overhead passing through Charing Cross Station. 

It’s been almost 15 years since The Woman in White opened in the West End, what makes this production special?

I think the focus of the story and music is what makes this production so special. Since the space is so intimate we were all forced to hone in on meaning intention and storytelling. 

And tell us a little bit about your character. 

Sir Percival Glyde is quite the rake. He isn’t concerned with anyone or anything other than himself. Yet he has an uncanny ability to feign caring intentions. This makes him a most dangerous character indeed. I would run far away from the Sir Percival Glydes of the world. 

What attracted you to the piece? 

It has been a dream of mine to work with and meet Andrew Lloyd Webber. As soon as I heard about it I wanted to work on it. Also I revelled in the chance to play a British bad guy! 

In one sentence, why should people come and see this show?

The beautiful score and haunting story make for an exquisitely entertaining night at the theatre! 

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

Theatre is my life. It has provided me with friends, family, education, structure, meaning, and purpose. If it were not for theatre I would not be the person I am today.
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