Friday, 12 November 2021

COMING HOME: Nicholas McLean, starring 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! 

Wicked is a modern musical theatre phenomenon, having opened in London in 2006 its enjoyed a hugely successful run at the Apollo Victoria Theatre and will be celebrating its 15th year in London this coming autumn. It has made stars of those who perform in it and with its huge fanbase, the support for the people in the show is just through the roof. And rightly so, this wonderful show has something in it for everyone and the story couldn’t get more universal. 

Nicholas McLean was featured in the show playing Boq before the theatres closed their doors back in March 2020. He had actually been on a 5-day break from the show with the plan to return that evening, only to be sent home not knowing when he would make a return. Previously to appearing in Wicked, he was seen in Cinderella at the Mercury Theatre and also in the Avenue Q tour as Gary Coleman. His other credits include The Book of Mormon at the Prince of Wales Theatre, Sister Act at the Gordon Craig Theatre and South Pacific at the St James Concert Hall. 

Reflecting on the changes theatre has been through since then, Nick talks to us about how he hopes some of the ways that theatre has had to adapt should in fact stay. “What I’m looking forward to most is us being able to continue these exciting progressions whether it be the ability to audition over zoom, or to collaborate with other creatives hundreds of miles away. Just because we can return to the way theatre was before doesn’t mean that we should forget some of the wonderful creative and innovative ideas we had during this time. The two can work hand in hand together to make something truly magical and accessible for all.” 

Over the pandemic, Nick has remained incredibly busy. He tells us he is a bit of a workaholic which, if you look at the credits he’s accumulated during this past year, is pretty evident! He was part of the filmed pantomime of Cinderella at KidZania, featured in the online production of First Date, did his own solo show with the Leave a Light On Series and was recently part of the workshop for the new musical Proud at the Turbine Theatre. As well as this he tells us he’s had “more jobs during the pandemic than I’ve had in real life.” Having worked a few reception jobs and in retail, although it may not be the year he expected to have he tells us it's taught him to enjoy the downtime a little more; “Being busy is great but grabbing that downtime is also so important for your longevity.” 

The theatre industry has been through a lot in the past 19 months, and a lot of conversations have been opened about how we must make it more inclusive. When talking to Nick about this he tells us it's so important for us to get this right to make a safe workplace for all from now on. "We’ve spent the last year highlighting some very serious issues within our industry and we’ve been allowed the chance to press the reset button so when we come back we need to do it correctly. It’s about creating safe workspaces, it’s about having a diverse workforce both on and off the stage. It’s about all of us working together and pushing forward this collective narrative that we all want better working practices otherwise our industry cannot push forward.”

When talking to Nick about what advice he’d give out to people going forward he tells us how important it is for people to maintain a healthy mental state. “It’s okay to be overwhelmed. We’ve been through so many changes and so many false starts. Just take each day as it comes and remember it’s okay to grab a duvet day from time to time.” If we’ve learned anything over this pandemic, it's to listen to ourselves and give our bodies and minds what they need. 

Aside from Wicked, Nick tells us Hairspray is the perfect show to welcome back theatre. Saying “It warms the heart, it melts the soul but also remains so topical. It’s the perfect balance between providing entertainment but also making audiences think.” And we couldn’t agree more, with the UK tour currently on the road and the recent London revival just closed, it couldn’t be a more perfect show to get people back to the theatre! 

Wicked reopened on the 15th September 2021, make sure you head back to Wicked now its back where it belongs because that's a story we all need to watch right now!

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