Monday, 8 January 2018

INTERVIEW: Lewis Griffiths, currently playing Nick Massi in the UK tour of Jersey Boys

Lewis is currently reprising the role of Nick Massi on the UK tour of Jersey Boys, having previously played the role on the 2014 UK tour. His other credits include Johnny Castle in Dirty Dancing (UK tour), cover Carl in Ghost (UK tour), Chad/Dewey/Kyle & Cover Warner in Legally Blonde(UK tour), Frank in Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (Palace Theatre), cover Benny in Rent Remixed (Duke Of York Theatre) and Clarence in Whistle Down The Wind (Aldwych Theatre). He took the time out of rehearsals before the show kicked off its new tour to speak to us about this upcoming production of Jersey Boys. 

You are returning to playing Nick Massi after playing him on the last UK tour, what made you want to return? 

Call it unfinished business. Nick Massi is an enigmatic character to play, so I wanted to honour that and build on what I already knew.

After already going on tour with the show, what are you expecting from audiences this time round? 

Who knows, some regional audiences will turn out in droves, due to the success of the last tour, but you can’t take that for granted. Hopefully they will re-love Jersey Boys all over again.

What are you most looking forward to this time round?

Bringing our show to my hometown, Southend and to my partner’s home in the North East. I’m very proud to play one of the Four Seasons so I can’t wait to show it off to friends and family!

How do you think your portrayal of Nick might change this time round? 

New tour, new production, new approach. Start over. It’s vital to see it all through fresh eyes.

What do you think makes this show so popular? 

Relativity – there’s something relative to everyone who watches this story. You go to the theatre to be entertained and you can’t fail with Jersey Boys.

How did the idea of you returning to the part come about?

You’d have to ask the producers that! I was in my dressing room in Sunderland and my agent called asking if it was something I’d be interested in – like I say, I had unfinished business so they had my attention!

If you had to choose one Four Seasons song that you would say is your favourite, which one would it be?

In the show I’d be torn between Cry For Me because it’s a momentous part of the show where the Four Seasons are first heard with their distinctive sound. Also I love the darker back story behind Beggin’ – it sets the tone that things are about to ‘go down’.

Is there any venue you’re most looking forward to playing? 

Newcastle Theatre Royal. My girlfriend, Melissa and her family will be seeing the show for the first time. They saw me in Dirty Dancing but I can’t wait for them to see me in this role. It’s also where we met!

You’ve most recently finished playing Johnny Castle in Dirty Dancing, what’s the best audience story you have from your experience on that show?

Many! I walked through the auditorium before the finale and let’s just say the audience were very tactile and pretty revved up, so when it came to the immortal line ‘Nobody puts Baby in the corner’ the reaction was truly deafening!

You must have had lots of women (and men) coming after you in that show! How was that? 

All part of the job! However, you do have to remind some people that we’re just actors doing a job. It was actually nice to finally get away from stage door after a show and be myself again!

Do you have any dream roles you’d like to play? Possibly after this tour of Jersey Boys?

I used to, but now I’m happy to see where my career takes me. I never thought I’d be returning to Jersey Boys, so who knows what might happen. Screen work
is definitely on my radar.

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

Personally, I owe an awful lot to theatre. As a lad, I was unsure of what I wanted to do in my life but found inspiration in theatre. I also think that architecturally the UK has some amazing theatres and through my work, I have developed an appreciation for these stunning buildings. 

We should never under estimate theatre – culturally, historically and economically, it has a very strong presence.
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