Your second album SIDES has been released recently. What is the concept of the album and how does it differ from your first album?
The idea behind the album is to reflect the two musical sides of my personality – my career in theatre, and myself as a singer-songwriter. The first album, We All Want The Same featured no covers, and was a collection of songs that I had written independently of one another over almost ten years. I was testing the water. The original songs on Sides were all penned within a year or eighteen-months of each other, so it has a more ‘complete’ feel, I think. I think it successfully showcases that there is more to me and my voice than you have seen in my theatre roles.
One CD is new songs and the other is covers of theatre songs with special guest performers. What made you choose those songs and those people to duet with?
The covers are, on the whole, songs that have played an important role in my career. Either from productions and experiences that have made a great impression on me, such as Phantom and Titanic, or from milestone moments. For example, take ‘One Two Three’ from The Fix. I played Cal in The Fix at the Edinburgh Festival in 2005. It was during that summer that I decided to apply for drama school and have a go at this professionally. Or Funny from City of Angels. Stine was my final role whilst training, and my performance landed me my first agent and an audition for The Sound of Music, which would be my first West End job. The nine musical theatre inclusions each have a story like that behind them. In terms of the guest performers? I am lucky enough to call them all my friends, and they are friends who have repeatedly wowed me over recent years with their voices. But most of all, I asked them because of the suitability of their voices to the songs I specifically wanted them to sing.
There are nine songs on each disc. Does the number nine has any special meaning for this album?
Not at all. We initially were going to have 11 and 11, and do a two-CD album. However, I then found out I was going to become a father (amazing!) and thought it sensible to cut back on costs and scale, given that the album was entirely self-funded with several years’ worth of savings. We worked out a new budget, and it became clear that 18 songs would fit on one disc – 9 and 9. It worked out for the best, as the two original songs that didn’t make the cut wouldn’t have ended up fitting with the sound and feel of the others, and might have stood out. In terms of the covers, I lost numbers from Chess and Sweeney Todd, but you can’t include them all!
You are currently performing in London’s West End as Raoul in The Phantom of the Opera. How has the experience been so far of performing in one of the biggest shows in the world and what makes the show special to you?
It has been an incredible year; I can’t believe how quickly it has gone. For me, it’s simply iconic. To play a principal role in a show that is recognised around the world is a great privilege – I remember the impact it had on me, seeing it as a teenager. I am fortunate to be staying for another contract, and to be playing Raoul for the show’s 30th birthday. It will be a proud moment, to play the part in front of members of the original cast, and of course, the show’s creators.
There are lots of great shows coming into the west end at the moment. What are you most excited to see, or have seen recently?
I have to say Hamilton. I am, controversially perhaps, not going to listen to the soundtrack before seeing it. If it’s as good as everyone says, I’d rather not know anything about it all, and then have my mind blown taking it all in for the first time. I am also very excited to see Harry Potter and The Cursed Child – although that’s not too easy to get seats for either. Lastly, I’d love to catch Jesus Christ Superstar in Regent’s Park. It’s one of my favourite scores, and I’ve heard rave reviews from many whose opinions I trust.
If you could be the opposite sex for the day, what theatre role would you like to have a go at playing?
Great question. Probably Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd. It’s got everything.
If you won the lottery and could stage one theatre show of your choice, what would you choose and who would be your dream cast?
I’d do a site-specific, promenade production of Phantom at The Opera Garnier in Paris. The audience would move around with the show. From the auditorium, down to the lake under the building, up onto the roof, etc. etc. Not sure about my main trio, but I’d ask Hugh Lawrie and Stephen Fry to play the managers.
Thanks for having Tea With Wilma
Nadim Naaman’s new album SIDES is out now at www.auburnjam.co.uk