Sunday, 21 November 2021

COMING HOME: Carl Man, featuring in Wicked at the Apollo Victoria Theatre

Pocket Size Theatre and Liza Heinrichs (Captured by Liz) have teamed up again and created our new series 'Coming Home'. In this new piece, we look at the reopening of Theatres in London and around the country and celebrate our industry coming back. We got together some performers who will be some of the first to return to theatres and created this piece to bring some positivity to the theatre industry which has been through one of the toughest years in our lifetime. Whilst it is important to acknowledge the hardships we've all gone through, it's important we pull together as a community and celebrate our beloved industry finally coming back!

The last time we saw Carl Man in a West End musical was just before the theatres all around the country were forced to shut down due to the pandemic. He was appearing in the global sensation WICKED. The show has been running in London for almost 15 years and continues to play to huge audiences who absolutely love the show. 

Carl appears in the ensemble of the show and also understudies the role of Fiyero, making him the first Asian actor to play the role in the show's history. His other credits include Jacob in Tiger Bay at the Wales Millennium Centre, Nintendo in Starlight Express at the Other Palace, understudying the role of Galileo in the RCCL production of We Will Rock You, Alternate ‘Aladdin’ in Disney’s Aladdin in the US and ensemble in The Who’s Tommy, also in the US. 

Since his pause in Wicked, he has gone on to appear as Rory in Proud at the Turbine Theatre and was in the line up of Roles We’ll Never Play at the Vaudeville Theatre, Pride at the Palace, West End Musical Drive-In and Kings of Broadway at the Palace Theatre. 

Over the pandemic, a huge shift happened in the diversity movement within theatre. It was an obvious issue before but with the pandemic, we were suddenly in a position where everyone's lives stopped and voices were finally heard and given a platform. Chatting to Carl about this change, he acknowledges the achievements made so far in this journey, “I do believe people are listening and we already seeing much more diversity with casting announcements especially for leading roles. I hope this continues and goes even further with more ethnicities being represented, showcased and celebrated.” But, as we said before, this is a journey and still has a long way to go. 

Now that we’re hopefully coming slowly out the other end of this situation, we asked Carl what his advice would be to others during this time: “be kind to yourself and to others”. If there's one thing we can take away from this dark period is that everyone has their own personal battle and it doesn’t cost anything to be kind. He also says “celebrate other people’s successes and support each other”, another very important thing we could all put a little bit more effort into trying to do. 

Chatting to Carl about the return of theatre we talked about what he’s most looking forward to, he tells us about how much he has missed the collective experience we all go through in a live theatrical experience, something I think will feel very different when we’re all back in a theatre again. "Being able to go and have a collective experience for two hours with an audience. Whether it makes you laugh, makes you cry or makes you feel empowered, I think we all need that inspiration right now.” 

We spoke to Carl before the show had reopened and when chatting to him about his return to the West End in Wicked he tells us how emotional it’ll be, especially when watching Elphaba defy gravity after all this time. “I can’t wait to be onstage watching Elphaba fly again. It will be emotional for sure!” And on the first night she did defy gravity, it was electric! 

Wicked reopened at the Apollo Victoria Theatre on the 15th September 2021, a modern musical theatre staple. The West End would not be the same without a tint of green hovering over it, and this spellbinding show is sure to amaze you and will be more powerful than ever. 

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