Who’s your favourite ‘non main character’ from any Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, and why?— Kristian Phillips (@KristianPhilli1)
Who’s your favourite ‘non main character’ from any Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, and why?— Kristian Phillips (@KristianPhilli1) June 2, 2020
I have lots – one of my favourite things to do is watch shows and choose my favourite ‘non-main characters’. Often the supporting roles – even very minor characters – are the ones that leave a lasting impression. Of course, they have to be well written, but a lot of it depends on the talent of the actor. Because, as we all know, there are no small parts, only small actors, dear.
Let’s look at Phantom. Everyone loves this story about a masked man who spends his time in solitude playing with his organ (rather like me, dear). But there’s a lot more to it than the scarred figure and his lover Christine.
My favourite non-leading role in this piece is Joseph Buquet – the chief stagehand of the theatre who claims to have seen the opera ghost. Always played by a rotund actor with lots of experience, the presence of this creepy character is well recognised when hanging backstage at many of the West End’s leading playhouses (although not at present, obvs). The first time I saw this musical back in 1922, I had such a surprise seeing Buquet hanged that my show pants became very moist indeed. It was a severe case of mid-show water leakage. My other favourite character in Phantom is the elephant. But that’s not an actor, so I suppose it doesn’t count (although it’s usually less wooden than those ballet girls, dear).
Now, on to Joseph and his multicoloured anorak. Good God, this show has haunted me over the years. In so many productions I’ve seen the brothers all looked so old they needed Zimmer frames. Anyway, my favourite smaller characters here are the children. These lovely little amateurs always fill me with joy with their over-the-top expressions and wonderful excitement about being on stage. They provide a stark contrast to the tired, depressed, worn-out adult actors doing 25 shows a week (in Kenwright’s touring production, dear).
The best minor role in Jesus Christ Superstar is Caiaphas – he has to have a voice that sounds like Barry White with a really bad cold
The best minor role in the religious rock shoutathon Jesus Christ Superstar is Caiaphas, purely because he has to have a voice that sounds like Barry White with a really bad cold. The vocal vibrations felt around the building whenever this character sings make seats wobble and groin regions vibrate. Marvellous!
Evita – well my dears, it has to be Magaldi, doesn’t it? Ever since I saw Jimmy Nail and his greasy hair strumming that guitar in front of Madonna I’ve been hooked – purely because it seems like he belongs in an entirely different production altogether. Maybe that’s because all I can think about is Auf Wiedersehen, Pet.
In Cats, it has to be Gus the Theatre Cat because I can’t wait to be invited to play that part myself (I promise to be as good as Brian Blessed). Although in all honesty I’m still trying to recover after watching the bloody awful film version. I suppose it serves me right for watching it sober.
And there you go. I didn’t bother with Stephen Ward and Paint Never Dries because what’s the point? It’s best to imagine they were all minor characters in those anyway, dear.
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