Richard Carson is well known on the London theatre scene with credits to his name like Mamma Mia, Miss Saigon and Wicked. He is now embarking on the UK tour of Sasha Regan’s critically acclaimed production of Iolanthe. I caught up with Richard for a cuppa and a chat about the show…
For those who may not know Gilbert and Sullivan’s show Iolanthe, what is it about?
It’s hard to put exactly what this show focuses on into a sentence. But, I guess, to put it simply, at the base it’s a Romeo-and-Juliet-esque story where two worlds meet and intertwine. There’s a few twists, as per, but it centres around a love story. With a significant jab at parliament. You’ll see…
Sasha Regan has made a name for herself by producing ‘all-male’ productions of musicals. How else is this production different from what people may know?
It’s unbelievable what is happening in the rehearsal room. An ‘all-male’ production takes a little getting used to, but you really are transported to a parallel realm where you believe the men are actually playing women. There’s no hiding, there’s really some strong female characters in this show and these gents are stepping up!
One thing that people don’t tend to know about this all-male show is that it’s all sang – unbelievably – at pitch. So yes, that means half of the cast are mostly singing alto and soprano parts. It’s incredible.
The show is about naughty school children. What were you like as a youngster?
I was a cheeky little chap, getting into lots of trouble – up until when I became a bit of a ‘boff’ for GCSE’s and A Levels. I was also that annoying kid who could play every sport and was in every sports team. Then, in true ‘High School Musical’ fashion, I tried my hand in the theatre, auditioned, got a part and absolutely loved it. Funnily enough, it was in the school’s production of High School Musical!
You’ve been in some great shows so far during your career. What have been some of your highlights?
I have been very fortunate to have played some great shows so far in my career. Wicked will always hold a dear place in my heart as it was my first job and so much fun. I met a lot of close friends on that job. Performing at the Royal Albert Hall was a major tick on the bucket list, at the BBC Proms with Oklahoma!. But I think Miss Saigon, in general, was my favourite. I was 1st cover Chris and was lucky to have played the role a lot in the year I was there and got to be in the film of the show. I learnt so much that year, especially playing opposite Jon Jon Briones. He was, and continues to be, a friend and an inspiration.
Are there any other roles out there that you have got your eye on?
Any role that challenges me always attracts me. For example, someone much older, someone with some kind of horrible past, or an addiction – something that requires hard work and graft. No-one is at the top of their game, we’re always learning, as actors, and it’s that learning that keeps me going.
In terms of roles or shows, for the sheer fun of it, I’d love to have another go at Wicked one day. Les Mis is the dream though – someday I hope – as Javert. Robert in Company, John in The Hired Man, and George in Sunday in the Park are all roles that highly interest me also, because of their complexity, I’d love to get my teeth into those.
The tour is visiting lots of different places, is there anywhere you are particularly looking forward to going?
Got to be Brighton – I’ve never been! I’m hoping for some nice weather, an ice cream and some footy on the beach. Ideal! Similarly though, I’ve never been to Bath, and I could really do with a good spa day!
Why do you think people should come and see Iolanthe on its UK Tour?
It’s not every day you get to re-live a classic such as this but with a slightly modernised twist. It’s witty and sounds brilliant. You’ll be wowed by some of the notes these guys can hit, trust me. Just be transported for 2 and a half hours. It all stemmed from a good bit of Gilbert and Sullivan!
Sasha Regan’s Iolanthe is on UK Tour: April – July 2018