Jon Robyns and Kit Orton are starring in Dickens Abridged at The Arts Theatre. They sat down for a cup of tea and a chat about the show.
Can you tell me about yourself and your career highlights to date?
JON: My name is Jon. I am 30 years old. I enjoy the red cups that Starbucks give you at Christmas time and occasionally pretend to be someone else while people pay to watch.
Some career highlights to date are Originating London casts of Avenue Q in 2006 and Sondheim’s Road Show in 2011. I also enjoyed the concerts I’ve been involved with at the Royal Albert Hall and London’s O2.
KIT: In a nutshell I am an actor who trained in opera at the RNCM in Manchester and then musical theatre at the RAM in London. I also write and compose musical theatre.
So far my career highlights have been every job I’ve done! I’ve been very lucky to have been working since leaving training in 2005! If I had to pick a few personal favourites then I guess playing Jackson in the Hired man at the Leicester Curve earlier this year is up there! Since I first heard the show years ago I have wanted to play Jackson so I consider myself very fortunate that I got to duet with Julie Atherton and be beaten to a pulp by David Hunter every night during the run! And playing Lancelot for in Spamalot recently was so much fun.
What is the show about and can you tell me about the character you play?
JON: Dickens Abridged is the life and works of Charles Dickens condensed into 90 minutes. We play all of Dickens’ most famous characters, some from his own life while playing guitars, pianos, violins, triangles, rhythm eggs and stamping hard on the floor.
KIT: The show I am currently in is called Dickens Abridged. It is a five-hander and I am one of the hands! We all play several different characters from Charles Dickens’ novels. For instance, in Great Expectations I play Magwitch, then Miss Havisham, then Estella – all within the space of about ninety seconds. So that should give you an idea of what type of show this is – anarchic, chaotic fun!!!
If we asked your friends to describe you in three words, what would they be?
JON: They would be very indiscreet friends. Oh, I see… Punctual. Silly. Vain.
KIT: Attention. Deficit. Ooh, shiny! (Jon will testify that this is correct!)
Do you have any dream roles that you would love to have a go at playing?
JON: I generally get excited about new writing so roles come up from time to time that I really want but I think the most exciting ones are the roles being written now. Who knows what they’ll be.
KIT: Tough one…I would love to have a stab at any of the big comedy roles out there. And I’d definitely love to try playing the Devil in Witches of Eastwick. However, as I trained in opera, it would be great to try one of the big serious singing roles in an epic show one day. Im desperate to play Sweeney Todd! I’m about to play one of my dream roles actually, the show starts rehearsals in February. I didn’t even know there would ever be any chance of it being a role that I could ever play…but it is…and I am.
If you could be the opposite sex for the day, what musical theatre role would you like to have a go at playing?
JON: Well, if we’re in the world of make believe then maybe I can be a great dancer too? In that case the Dance teacher in Billy Elliot. A brilliant triple threat role (currently being played by one of the country’s best – Anna-Jane Casey).
KIT: Good question! Nessa Rose in Wicked…it’d be nice to have a sit down for a bit.
Do you have a favourite Musical Theatre show or song that means a lot to you?
JON: You’d have to go a long way to beat how special Avenue Q is to me.
KIT: Songs that have had an effect on me and I have desperately sought out are “I Can’t Recall” from A Tale Of Two Cities, “Red, Red, Rose” from Red Red Rose and I cry when I hear the music from Once!!! The show RENT means a lot to me. It was this show that introduced me to musical theatre years ago. So that show will always have a special place in my heart.
Finally. If you were going to name a pet, what theatre character name would you choose?
KIT: I’m desperate for a dog (waiting until I have a house with a garden!) and if I was to name him after a theatre character (which I might not ‘cause I may be accused of being ridiculously stagey…and I want to call him Steve!) I would call him Hedwig or Sweeney!
Thank you for having Tea With Wilma
Dickens Abridged is playing now at The Arts Theatre, London until 5th January.