Saturday, 27 April 2019

INTERVIEW: Jon Robyns, star of Hamilton and soon to appear in ‘The Best of… Rock Musicals’

Jon is a celebrated musical theatre star, with a CV as one as my arm! He is currently paying King George in the West End production of Hamilton and will feature in ‘The Best of… Rock Musicals’ concert on the 12 May at the Eventim Apollo, Hammersmith. His other credits include Robbie in the Wedding Singer (UK tour); Emmett Forrest in Legally Blonde (Curve Theatre, Leicester); Caractacus Potts in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (West Yorkshire Playhouse); Alternate Huey in Memphis (Shaftesbury Theatre); Adam Nehemiah in Dessa Rose (Trafalgar Studios); Jamie in The Last Five Years (Greenwich Theatre); Galahad in Spamalot (Harold Pinter and Playhouse Theatres); Hollis in Road Show (Menier Chocolate Factory); Enjolras in Les Miserablés (25th Anniversary Tour); Marius in Les Miserablés (Queen's Theatre); Princeton/Rod in Avenue Q (Noel Coward Theatre); Mark in Rent (English Theatre Frankfurt); Alternate Chris in Miss Saigon (UK tour).

Tell us a bit about what we can expect from ‘The Best of… Rock Musicals’. 

An epic celebration of all things Rock Musical. There are some genuine legends of the theatre involved in the show and the set list is going to be just as awesome. My guess is that it’ll be LOUD! 

The concert will be in aid of The Charlie Waller Memorial Trust, which raises awareness of, and offers support and education to those affected by, depression and mental illness. For you, what is so special about being involved in this event for this amazing charity? 

Mental health has been, until very recently, hidden away as a private affliction. Thankfully, charities such as The Charlie Waller Memorial Trust are bringing topics like depression, anxiety and even suicide out into the open so their social stigma can be taken away and dealt with care and compassion. 

Have you ever had a moment in your career where you think you could have benefitted from the work of this charity? 

We all suffer from anxiety and stress both in and away from work. I haven’t had cause to contact the Trust, but should I need to I’m glad it’s there. That’s why we’re all getting together to support them in May.

We don’t want to ruin any surprises… but can you tease us with anything we might be hearing you sing at this concert? 

Ha! Unfortunately it would ruin surprises, so for now, my lips are sealed. 

As the show is celebrating Rock Musicals, what is your personal favourite and why? 

My favourite Rock Musical is Jesus Christ Superstar. It was at a performance of a Touring Production in the late 90s that it occurred to me, if I could make an audience member feel the way I felt after watching that show, it might be a cool thing to do with my life. 

Are there any songs from roles you’re singing that you haven’t had the chance to play yet that you wish you could? 

I haven’t yet had the opportunity to play Judas in a production of Jesus Christ Superstar. Maybe I will one day. 

You are currently playing the role of King George III in Hamilton, what’s it like to be part of this show that is still selling out and one of the hottest tickets in town? 

It’s a perfect piece of theatre. Away from the commercial success of the show, which is fun to be part of, the actual piece itself is so dense, detailed and joyous to discover nightly. I love coming into work with the company, who are (and have to be to deliver the show) exemplary examples of what they do. 

What was your personal experience of the show before auditioning? 

Like most people, I was blow away by the album and YouTubed the hell out it. It made the audition process easy as I already knew the show back to front by the time I was called to in to be seen for the King. 

Since being a part of the show, what’s been your favourite memory so

The best part of this show is and continues to be witnessing the cast’s interpretations of each part. It’s a large cast, with lots of parts and every understudy or swing that goes on brings something new and special. I’m constantly floored by the strength in depth in the building. 

You went from the UK tour of The Wedding Singer to Hamilton, that’s quite a difference! Are those kind of changes in your career refreshing? 

It’s always great fun to discover new roles and the more varied the better. There was a year between finishing Wedding Singer and starting Hamilton so it didn’t feel a jarring shift. But they certainly are different parts to play, on a practical level especially given the amount of stage time each enjoys. Robbie Hart - 2 hours solid. King George - 12 mins. 

Your CV is very extensive, from shows like Miss Saigon and Les Miserables to Avenue Q and Spamalot. You’ve had your fair share of variety in your career! What’s been some of your favourite shows you’ve been a part of so far? 

They’re genuinely like picking between children. Each show is a special experience in itself. Having said that, Avenue Q will always be extra special as it was my West End Debut and that show had more heart on and off stage than any other I’ve experienced. Hamilton is definitely giving it a run for its money though. 

As an actor who is clearly very versatile with a diverse CV, have you run into any issues in castings with people putting you into a certain category for you past experiences? 

Not really difficulties as such. You learn to accept that if they “don’t see you as that part”. There’s very little you can do about it. If you do surprise people it’s usually because they’ve seen you one way for a while and forgotten that you can do several things. It’s our job to believably be other people, sometimes you’re given the chance, sometimes not. If you are, we try to make it count. 

You’ve performed in so many different types of venues, from West End to international and across the UK as well as some intimate theatres too. What’s been your all-time favourite theatre to work at? 

Easy. Wales Millennium Centre. Best sound, best dressing rooms, best looking building and it’s so versatile. I lived in Cardiff as they were building it and was so excited about the prospect of it. So it’s special to me in a personal level too. 

You’re in Hamilton for the foreseeable I assume, but have you got anything else coming up that you can tell us about? 

I’m currently recording my second Album, which is due to be released in the Autumn. I’m having such a great time with it. The MDs and band players we’ve managed to get to feature on it are some of the best in the country. It’s gonna sound amazing. 

The Best of Rock Musicals is at Eventim Apollo, Hammersmith, on 12 May (4pm & 8pm)
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