Wednesday, 11 November 2020

INTERVIEW: Jack Hinton, presenting his one-man Concert THE BAGGY TROUSERS CONCERT at Above The Stag

Jack Hinton is presenting his own one-man show 'The Baggy Trousers Concert' at Above The Stag on the 3rd December 2020, he will also be streaming it later that month online. In 2019, whilst out in Germany rehearsing for Starlight Express, welsh musical theatre performer Jack Hinton was diagnosed with testicular cancer. In this concert, he will share his experience of his battle with cancer and mental health, telling all about how he got back on his feet (well, in a pair of roller skates) on the Starlight Express stage 2 weeks after his surgery. Through an array of musical theatre, pop and Christmas songs, performed alongside the fabulous Ben Papworth on piano, you can be sure for a unique and heartfelt extravaganza taking place for one night only at the Above The Stag Theatre.  

You will be performing your first one-man show at Above The Stag on the 3rd December, ‘The Baggy Trousers Concert’ tells the story of your cancer journey through an array of musical theatre and pop songs. What inspired the idea to create this show and tell your story in this way?

2020 have been a bleak and testing year for everyone! I left 2019 certain that 2020 would be a better year- LOLS! Especially given the lack of theatre we have had this year; I put one and one together and came up with the idea of sharing something I struggled with; with hope it would resonate with others. Of course the show is to raise money and awareness on testicular cancer and the charity Baggy Trousers, but the sentiment of the show is for anyone to watch and feel like they can celebrate whatever they have gone through as well. My hope is by telling my story, it will help others whether they’ve been fighting/fought the same battle as me or have fought a different battle in celebrating their strength and feeling proud of what they’ve overcome. And the best way I can do that is, of course, is through theatre! 

You were diagnosed with testicular cancer whilst out in Germany performing in Starlight Express, What was it like receiving this news whilst not only having to focus on your job but also whilst being in a different country? 

When you get told something like that, nothing else around you really exists and your only focus is facing it head-on. You kind of automatically resort to tunnel vision and everything also around you is just black. Though there was an obvious language barrier between myself and the doctor’s, I felt very lucky with the amazing healthcare out there and am so grateful to have received the amazing treatment I did- and so quickly! On top of this, I was also doing what I loved and was working with the most wonderful cast. 

You will be raising money for ‘Baggy Trousers UK’, a non-profit organisation aiming to raise awareness of testicular cancer in young males. Is this a charity you reached out to during your cancer journey? How did they help you? 

Throughout my cancer journey, I found it easiest to deal with it on my own. I didn’t reach out to any support groups/charities as it were. I received incredible support however from the amazing John Partridge, who I met through performing in one of his pieces at my college (Bird College). Since then we’ve been friends and given he went through a very similar situation as I did, he had all the answers for me and everything I was feeling post-surgery. He is now my official Fairy Godmother! I reached out to Baggy Trousers after coming up with the idea to do the show. After researching testicular cancer charities, I got in contact with them and they seemed very behind the idea and a few days after I was on the phone talking with the founder, Jack Broadley. We spoke about our experiences and that’s when I knew I picked the right charity! 

You were diagnosed whilst in Skate School (the training and rehearsal process for Starlight Express), what was it like opening the show once you were cancer-free? 

As my surgery was three weeks before opening night, I agreed with the director that I would miss that and join the cast 2 weeks afterwards. By the time my opening night came, I was still in the middle of my check-ups (for 8 weeks after surgery, I was required to go to hospital once a week for blood tests/examinations etc) and the hospital didn’t confirm I was officially ‘cancer-free’ until this process was complete. However, I found out I was ‘officially’ cancer-free just one day before my first Rusty performance which made it all very emotional haha! 

What kind of support did you receive from your company, castmates and people back home whilst in the show? 

The support I received from my castmates was wonderful. Some of them came to see me as soon as they finished rehearsals as I was on my own in hospital for 5 days recovering from surgery. 

Upon watching your one-man show, what do you hope people might take away from it? 

That there’s ALWAYS. a light at the end of tunnel- see what I did there…? And also, it takes place first night after Lockdown 2.0! So I want them to celebrate, enjoy the live theatre and drink to their hearts content!! 

You’ll be performing it in a COVID-safe venue (Above the Stag) but the concert will also be streamed, can you give us some more information about that? 

Yes, so details are TBD though it’s 90% in place. I’m just a bit intimidated if I’m honest with this whole streaming thing: I have no idea what I’m doing! But the concert will be streamed every evening from Monday 14th December- Sunday 20th December on Vimeo, with tickets going on sale in the next couple of weeks through Eventbrite. Tickets will be £5, again, all proceeds going to Baggy Trousers UK. The streaming idea came to mind, given the limited amount of people we can have for our in-house audience as the hope is to raise as much awareness as possible on the charity and its incredible work.

Performing a one-man show is a pretty big deal! The show is just under a month away, how are you feeling about it? 

VERY EXCITED! I sent out a few emails in September as soon as I moved back to London honestly not expecting anyone to reply! When Tim McArthur then called me a few weeks later and agreed to put it on at the amazing Above The Stag Theatre, I was speechless and then did actually sit myself down and go ‘okay babes, can you actually do this?!’. But I am working with the most fabulous MD, Ben Papworth and I have spent a good few months putting together a setlist I’m very proud of. Hollie Aires, one of my closest friends who I met working on Starlight Express actually has also agreed to sing at the concert which I am SO ecstatic about. Her voice isn’t even human- it’s insane! 

As someone who is still very new to this industry (Jack graduated from Bird College in 2017), you’ve experienced quite a lot so far! With beating cancer and 2020 in general, what do you think you’ll take from your experiences into the future? 

This experience has changed me entirely as a person and I think it’s the most humbling feeling when you’re able to step back and identify that. I was only 24 when this all happened to me and I’m 26 now. Quite simply, I now tell myself if I can go through that, then I can go through anything. And, life is too short! I know before being diagnosed with cancer, I wouldn’t have even dreamt of writing to theatres, pitching the idea of me doing my own concert! So, I guess I’m now trying to make the most of life. I’m choosing to look at as many positives as I can from these past 2 years and identify all the new strengths they have given me. Then, with hope, this show will allow me to pass my new strengths onto others and then they’ll leave the theatre feeling the same (and hopefully a bit tipsy too!). 

And finally, what advice would you offer any fellow creatives or performers who may be going through a hard tie right now? 

Right now all you need to focus on is you and your happiness. Keep dreaming big but never lose track of your physical and mental health. You got all the time on your side and unlimited amount of opportunities that lie ahead of you- and as of recent, we have every reason to believe that 2021 will be a whole lot better! Let’s all stick together, be there for each other and if you need someone to speak to, give me a bell!!

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