Thursday, 16 June 2016

INTERVIEW Warwick Davis

HE'S been an Ewok, a leprechaun, starred in TV sitcoms, hosted quiz shows and has performed in pantos. But Warwick Davis has yet to take on the challenge of musical theatre. That is until now.
And as he tells me, as he's not one to pass up an opportunity to do something new the 46 year old has taken the plunge with new show, Eugenius! The Musical, which will have a special premiere on June 29 at the London Palladium.
It has been written by Ben Adams and Chris Wilkins and features a stellar cast including Warwick, who also produces it, alongside David Bedella, Summer Strallen and comedian Marcus Brigstocke.
Set in the 1980s Eugenius! is a classic love story of two teens - Eugene and Janey. She is in love with him but he doesn’t notice as he has his head buried in his comic books. In fact he loves them so much that he decides to write his own comic about a superhero.
And in true fairytale fashion, Eugene finds that his creations take him to Hollywood and he becomes the unlikely hero of his own intergalactic battle.
It is, says Warwick, a musical of fun and laughter with “brilliant” characters, a “cracking script” and a fantastic score and when it was offered he was immediately hooked.
“I have been working on this for about a year now and it’s brilliant,” he tells me. “Ben and Chris have done a terrific job with it and have created something brilliant and when they approached me about it I knew it was something I wanted to be involved with.
“What’s great is that it’s a proper musical - not a juke box musical - all the songs are original and there is a real mix - from big noisy numbers to very intimate beautiful love songs. And all of them are instantly hummable and hits in the making.
“There is a lot of humour and it doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s also got characters who you can relate to and care about - and you will want to see what happens to them. And if you are a child of the 80s like me you will love the music, the references and the jokes.
“I’m also a huge advocate of live theatre and think we need to do as much as we can to support it so I’m really excited by it.”
But he admits that despite his excitement and enthusiasm for the project - not least because his character was written for him - he was somewhat nervous about the singing.
“I am the evil one of the piece,” he laughs. “I’m the evil Lord Hector. It’s a great name isn’t it? He thinks he’s really nasty and he talks about how nasty he is but really he’s not as bad as he thinks he is.
“Ben and Chris saw a horror movie I had done in the 90s called Leprechaun and wanted a villain and so wrote the character for me. They had seen me do a bit of singing in Spamalot and asked me to come and record a demo.
“I think they could see I wasn’t really a singer but I spent a day recording and it was so much fun, just brilliant. They did a good job and made me sound great!”
However, it was Warwick’s son Harrison who really persuaded him to be part of the show. Indeed Warwick credits his family and his two children in particular, with helping him make his career choices - most of which he's happy to report have been good enough to propel him from being recognisable and familiar to now properly famous.
“Many of the decisions I have made have been based on my kids and I've been really lucky in my career,” he says.
"With Eugenius, my son Harrison heard the tracks I had done for the show and was really taken by them. I thought if this was resonating with him, then I should think seriously about it. So here we are.”
It’s not the first time Warwick has produced a stage play. He did one three years ago and he admits it was a challenge but he says he is up for another go even though he concedes the success rates of new West End shows hasn't been that great in recent years.
“I make no bones about it, last time I produced a play it was a challenge - physically, emotionally and financially too," he chuckles. "But I learned a lot from doing it and I wanted to take this on as I believe in it so strongly.
“The Palladium a big place to put on a show but we thought we wanted the world to sit up and listen so what better place.
“It’s also one of my dreams to be able to say that I trod the boards at the London Palladium.”
Although the show will be on for one night only initially, Warwick is confident it will lead to the musical coming to the West End next year.
“It will be a premiere concert performance,” he explains. “Musically you will get a full show with an amazing cast of some of the very best West End performers but there won’t be sets or full costumes.
“It is just to get a sense of the show and get feedback from the audience.
“I am confident though,” he adds. “I have got so much faith in it and I’m really excited about it. I urge people to come along and support it.
“Besides imagine being able to see it before it was put on the stage proper and being able to say that you heard me sing - that’s got to be worth the ticket price alone!”

Eugenius! The Musical is on at the London Palladium on Wednesday, June 29. Visit for full listings.

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