David Langham is well known for his roles in musicals Oliver! and Spamalot and most recently at the RSC (Wendy & Peter Pan) and the National Theatre (Treasure Island and The Light Princess). David is currently in rehearsals to join the cast of Les Miserables in London’s West End playing Thenardier! I caught up with David to have a chat about his career and his new West End venture!
You are joining the cast of Les Miserables on 13 June 2016 playing probably one of the greatest comedy parts in musical theatre, Thenardier. Is it a part you have always wanted to play and how are you planning to make the role your own?
Wilma, I’m so thrilled to have finally been given the opportunity to play Thenardier. It’s certainly a role I’ve always had my eye on and because I’ve stuck around as an actor for quite a few years, I’m now the right age to play it! I’ve never taken over in a show before but the whole process has been a joy and my stage wife and the current Mme Thenardier – the brilliant Katy Secombe, has been so welcoming and encouraging to me. Our wonderful resident director Sam Hiller and the show’s MD James McKeon have given me enormous freedom to put my own interpretation on the role within the existing framework and I’m really looking forward to seeing how my version lands with the audience.
For those who may not be familiar with Les Miserables, can you tell me what the show is about and the character that you play?
Les Miserables is the story of ex-convict Jean Valjean’s mission to clear his name for ‘stealing a loaf of bread’ and the 19 year false imprisonment that resulted. Through his strength and courage he saves many people throughout the action, not least Cosette, the cherished daughter of tragic Fantine who he saves from a life of misery and crime at the hands of the unscrupulous Thernardiers. I play Monsieur Thernardier, a petty criminal, sometime innkeeper and all-round rotter. Both he and Mme Thernardier become the characters the audience love to hate. It’s great fun to play.
Les Miserables has been playing in London’s West End for more than twenty years now. What is it about the show that you think has made it last for so long?
The show celebrates its 31st birthday in the West End on the 8th October 2016! It’s not hard to see how a show with terrific characters experiencing genuine human emotions and struggles has been such a hit with audiences worldwide. That’s even before you mention the terrific score and production. It already feels an honour to be part of it and I haven’t even had the costume on yet.
There are lots of exciting shows coming to London in 2016. Is there anything you are particularly looking forward to seeing?
Once we get going on June 13th it’s going to be pretty hard to see anything else, but I’ve got a few mates down the road in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child that I can’t wait to support and have a drinkie with once we’ve all opened!
You starred in the Tori Amos musical The Light Princess at the National Theatre a couple of years ago. What was it like creating the role you played and how was it working with a musical genius like Tori Amos?
The joyous Rosalie Craig was the star of The Light Princess and it was such an incredible experience witnessing her creation of Althea . The amazing cast and creative team had an unforgettable time putting Tori Amos and Sam Adamson’s beautiful vision on stage at the NT. There’s nothing quite like being the first person to play a role and I had great fun playing Mr Flowers – one of Althea’s three deranged suitors – along with Les Miserables Adam Pearce as suitor number two- Mr Crabbe. Tori is a very gracious and down to earth lady despite her gifts and to have the opportunity a few months later to record the soundtrack to The Light Princess with her at her home is something I’ll never quite get over – a once in a career day!
If you could be the opposite sex for the day, what theatre role would you love to have a go at playing?
I think everything is changing Wilma so who knows perhaps it’ll all be up for grabs and I won’t have to change sex!
As any West End Wilma reader will tell you, one of my favourite ever shows is Spamalot and I saw you in it many times on tour. Do you have a favourite line or song from the show that still makes you laugh? I always find myself screaming “What… the curtains?” and chuckling to myself!
I loved doing anything that Prince Herbert had to say/sing or dance and along with ‘What the curtains?’ I never tired of singing his ode to lust – ‘Where are You’ and whipping off Graham Macduff’s shirt for ’His name is Lancelot’
Why do you think people should come to see Les Miserables?
Great story, great songs and great performances. It’s got the lot… oh and I’m in it!! To quote Crazy for You – ‘Who could ask for anything more!’
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Catch David Langham as Thenardier in Les Miserables at the Queens Theatre from 13 June 2016. Tickets