One question people often ask you when you want to perform is, "Who do you aspire to be like?". My answer: me... yes me. I don't think its right to aim to be just like someone else, we all need to be individual and be remembered for who we are and what we have done, rather than being remembered as the person who was quite like somebody else. I say this but it doesn't mean certain actors haven't inspired me in my ambitions to perform. If you care to look back through the past 50+ blogs you would probably find mention of a few of the people I feel have helped guide and carve my path to performing. But to read back over all those blogs would take forever... and honestly, some of them aren't even that interesting! So here I am going to dedicate a blog to all the people who have inspired me and give you a little bit of an idea as to why I hold them in such high esteem.
Before I go any further I want to say that these inspirations are in no particular order. I wouldn't want to be accused of favoritism, would I?
The first name that springs to mind is John Barrowman... now I know what some of you are thinking "hes that annoying gay American". Well firstly he is not American, he was in fact born in Glasgow. Secondly he is not annoying... well at least I don't think so. Thirdly hes not... ok I will give you that one, he is as gay as they come. But that is what makes him so fantastic as an entertainer. He has a no holds barred approach to things. When I saw him in La Cage Aux Folles alongside Simon Burke, he blew me away. (is that the right thing to say whilst talking about a gay guy? I am sure there is an innuendo I could insert at this point) Anyway... This of course wasn't the first time I had seen John Barrowman, but it was the first time I had seen him perform live. He blew me away, he absorbed his character like a sponge and gave the performance 150%. The charisma he brings on stage is inspiration enough for me, but what really wins me over is his ability to out sing almost anyone you can name. He in my opinion has the strongest singing voice in all the lead male actors I have ever come across to date.
On the theme of singing, if you are wondering who my most inspirational female lead actress is, the title belongs to Elaine Paige. Kerry Ellis is up there too, but I think Paige wins the vote based on her contribution to British theatre over the last 30 or more years. Incidentally John Barrowman's debut lead performance in the West End was alongside Elaine Paige. But anyway thats another story... read JB's autobiography... its a good read!
Next on the list is a young lad by the name of Connor Doyle, who is best known for his role as Michael in Billy Elliot, though his experience in acting and indeed dancing goes way beyond this show. I first came across Connor not long into his run as Michael at the Victoria Palace Theatre in London. Its hard to put into words how Connor performs. Everything is so right. At no point when he is on stage do you see an actor, you sincerely believe he is who he is casted to be. on stage I never see Connor, I just see Michael. He just seems to mould to a role so well. Furthermore the energy he brings to every performance is outstanding, and these are the areas where he inspires me so much. I think its easy to let standards slip, but when I see Connor perform he is a reminder to me that you always have to be on top of your game. On a side not Connor who left Billy Elliot in November is returning to the show at the beginning of April for six weeks... I strongly recommend you go see him!
On the theme of Billy Elliot, I am going to have to mention Fox. Fox Jackson-Keen was the first Billy that I saw in the show. I guess he set a benchmark when I saw him that time. What I really relate to however is his interpretation of the role. Somehow when he performs he reminds me of myself... only younger, in better shape and much more energetic! Ok kidding aside, I really relate to his portrayal of Billy's struggle to make it. This topped off with the energy fox injects into his performances, is what I always look to when I am feeling a little low. Daft I know but even if i feel like crap before seeing Fox perform, you can guarantee I will come out in a much better mood! It was even better when Fox and Connor performed together!
Billy Elliot aside, next on my list is Jon Robyns. Jon's most recent ventures have been in Les Miserables and Avenue Q. Which to date are 2 of my favorite shows of all time. Jon has so much character and diversity to offer, which is so important in performing. After all there are very few people who can play a gay blue puppet called Rod then go on to be Marius in Les Mis. Such a versatile performer.
This list could go on forever, but I think I will leave it there, as they without a doubt are my favorite and most inspirational actors. Now I know someone is going to ask... if I had to name one to top my list who would it be. The truth is there is no one answer, it depends what I am doing, whether its a play, a musical, whether its serious or funny. Though I can guarantee if you ever see me perform you will see a little bit of each of those named above in what I do if you look hard enough!
As for inspirations outside of acting, its almost everyone who knows me... I was going to try and make a list of everyone, but i'd miss somebody, and cause offense. So I will leave it at this. Id you know me the chances are in some way you have, do or will inspire me in what I do on stage and I thank you for that!
Anyway I'm out of here, I am eating healthily as of tomorrow... so need to pig out before the clock strikes midnight!