Monday, 28 December 2020

Outside the Spotlight: Reminiscing around the National with Nicholas McLean | Captured by Liz

Outside the Spotlight is brought to you by Captured by Liz in partnership with Pocket Size Theatre, this series of articles is sponsored by Pointe & Flex, a stylish and motivational stationery brand created for dancers, dance teachers and everything in between! From diaries to notebooks, pens to pencils, planners to action lists, Pointe & Flex are here to make sure you stay on top of everything so you can thrive in your industry. Click here to find out more.

Grey concrete buildings melt into the grey sky on this wintery day, as we meet outside the closed National Theatre. Nick has a long connection to the iconic venue. “It really sparked my interest, and love, for theatre.” His secondary school had a great collaboration with the National, which enabled various school trips to see productions, as well as putting on shows as well. “I spent a lot of time here as a kid.” 

You can see how important and long lasting early exposure and involvement in theatre can be, as Nick went on to study at Mountview for three years and has quite a few shows under his belt now. When theatres were forced to close, Nick was part of WICKED in the West End, playing the role of Boq 8 shows a week. “I had actually been on holiday the week before, and we were all at the theatre when we got the news theatres would close. Broadway had obviously shut down already, so we knew it was coming, but it was still a weird feelings.” 

Nick previously toured the UK with Avenue Q as Gary Coleman, placed Pepper in Mamma Mia! - The Immersive Experience in Abi Dhabi, and Doctor in the West End production on Book of Mormon. “It’s been a weird year, hasn’t it?”, he says as we walk along the River Thames. Nick has been lucky and quite busy over this period, taking part in several filmed/digital productions, and just keeping himself busy in general. “I feel very lucky! And it’s been good fun as well. It’s something I otherwise would never have done. It has also been nice to slow down and check in with yourself. Last year was super busy for me, and at the beginning of lockdown I actually quite enjoyed the time off. I think I needed it as well. But equally, I miss being able to go out. And especially see my friends and hug everyone and go out for dinner. ” 

“I love Christmas markets, the smells, the atmosphere. Mulled wine, all the food,…” Southbank and the area around the National usually looks like festive heaven at this time as well, but the absence of Christmas market booths and minimal decorations is just another reminder of how different 2020 has been - and still is.

As we head around towards the Young Vic, we obviously have to mention the Black British Theatre Awards. The awards, presented at the Young Vic in October and shown on Sky Arts this year, celebrate the excellence and influence of black performers in the theatre industry, and Nick has been awarded as best supporting male actor for his performance as Boq in WICKED. In 2020, as the world calls for inclusivity, and the improvement of representation, the awards and their mission are more important than ever. It’s been a very eye-opening year in many ways, and being forced to take a step back, and refocus, has opened new ways and doors going forward. We both look forward to seeing where the industry, and the world, is heading going into 2021 and beyond.

This article has been written by and photographed by Captured by Liz, published through Pocket Size Theatre. The article has been sponsored by Pointe & Flex Stationery.
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