Friday, 19 January 2018

INTERVIEW: Richard Trinder, currently playing Sam Carmichael in London's Mamma Mia!

Richard has been playing Sam Carmichael in the London production of Mamma Mia! since 2013. His other credits include Vince in Way Upstream (Salisbury Playhouse), Lignière in Cyrano de Bergerac and Brocklehurst in The Admirable Crichton (Chichester), Cornwall in Lear, Benvolio in Romeo and Juliet, Francisco in Hamlet (Sheffield Crucible), Burgundy in King Lear (Almeida) and Gruber in As You Desire Me (West End). He took some time off from the island to speak to us about his time in the hit West End show. 

When did you get into performing? What was your first exposure to theatre?

I grew up very close to Theatr Clwyd around the time it opened, and my first memory of theatre is being in the front row for a production of '3 Men In A Boat'. I must have been about 9 and I clearly remember the sudden realisation that here were grown-ups playing around pretending to be in a boat - and that was their job! It seemed too good to be true.

I did a couple of school plays but drama school wasn't really on the radar in an 80's comp so I drifted down to London and did terrible student shows instead of lectures. Then I went to the Poor School and realised how hard those 3 blokes had worked to be allowed to mess around in that boat.

Tell us what the audition process was like for Sam in Mamma Mia!.

Not nearly as soul-destroying as some of them, as the creatives are a very friendly bunch. After the MD checked that I could hold a tune they gave me a script and brought me back the next day to read with the other potential dads.

What do you think makes Mamma Mia! one of the most popular musicals in London, even after almost 20 years after originally opening in the West End?

Well the obvious answer is ABBA - everybody loves those songs. But I don't think it would have stayed around so long without a genuinely involving and moving story with relatable characters. It helps that so many of the songs are little dramas in themselves, and they're so brilliantly woven into very human situations that I think it's hard to fault it as a piece of theatre. And the power of 3 strong female lead characters shouldn't be underestimated. You get to laugh and cry and a big dancing singalong at the end. What's not to like..?

For anyone living under a rock, could you tell us a little bit about the show?

Well, it's about this architect called Sam... Surely nobody's been under a rock for that long..?

The tale unfolds on a Greek island paradise. On the eve of her wedding, a daughter’s quest to find the identity of her father brings 3 men from her mother’s past back to the island. MAMMA MIA! includes the story-telling magic of ABBA’s timeless songs with an enchanting tale of family and friendship. 

And tell us a little bit about your character.

Generally optimistic but occasionally prone to melancholy...

Sam, on the other hand, is a man who's spent 20 years trying to pretend his heart wasn't broken, covering it up with an arrogant swagger which served him well, until divorce, the loss of his kids, and a voice from the past open up the old wounds and make him question everything. It's a happy show though, honest...

You’ve been appearing in the show since 2013, so you must be having a pretty good time! What’s your most treasured memory from doing this show?

Probably the Relaxed Performance we did in my second year with the amazing Mousetrap Project - the house is full of kids with special needs and their families, the kids can do what they want and the noise and audience reaction is incredible. Meeting the kids and seeing their families being able to relax and enjoy a night out had us all in floods.

How have you kept your performance fresh after almost 5 years of doing the show?

Hard to answer this without sounding either pretentious or mad. You never know quite how it's going to feel when you walk on each night, how an audience will react. There's always more than one way of saying anything, so as long as you're concentrating on being present and really listening to what the other characters are saying then hopefully your reactions will be real. It can be hard leaving real life in the wings and just being, but that's why it's work. And having colleagues who like to surprise you helps...

You’ve appeared in a lot of TV over your career, do you prefer Theatre?

I love working and consider myself very lucky if I get to do either.

Do you think you’ll make a return onto our screens?

Fingers crossed. Midsummer Murders is always on somewhere if you flick far enough down the channels.

What is the most embarrassing thing that’s happened to you on stage?

Having to improvise for 5 long minutes while waiting for an actor who never arrived until the safety curtain finally put me out of my misery.

If you could change part, regardless of age or gender, which part would you like to play in Mamma Mia! and why?

Donna, because she gets all the best songs. Wait, no, Pepper because then I'd be 20 years younger and be able to do 10 split jumps in a row.

Tell us why people should come and see Mamma Mia! in no more than 10 words!

Even my Dad loved it, and he hates musicals...

Mamma Mia! plays at the Novello Theatre. Click here to book tickets. 
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