Category Archives: Member’s Q&A

Member’s Q&A: Kevin’s still hoping to one day say ‘HUMBUG!’

Every few months, we like to turn the spotlight on an AOS member and find out a little more about them. This time it’s Kevin Pope.

When did you first get involved in musical theatre and where was this?

I was introduced to musical theatre from a very young age as my mum and dad were both regular performers with the Exmouth Operatic Society. I would see all of their shows and often used to go along to rehearsals too. I never thought that I would actually go on stage myself. However, when the Society put on South Pacific, they were looking for youngsters to play the parts of Emile de Becque’s children, and that’s when I landed my first role – Jerome de Becque, at the tender age of eight!

Kevin as an hypnotic ‘Daddy’ in 2014’s Sweet Charity

How would you describe AOS?

AOS are a friendly and talented bunch. They have fun at rehearsals and are dedicated enough to know that they also have to (and do!) work hard to ensure that the finished product – the show that the public will see – is as polished and as it can be.

What attracts you to a part?

The part has to be a strong character – someone to whom the audience will react. Normally that is why I enjoy playing comedy roles, but that is not always the case. I also enjoy playing disagreeable characters, such as Jigger in Carousel, or Ted Blacklock, the militant union leader in The Hired Man. Another thing that is important is that the part must not require any serious dancing. I can move, but precise dancing has never been my forte!

Kevin Pope Sister Act
Kevin wooing the front row ladies in 2017’s Sister Act.

How do you prepare for auditions?

I look at the audition piece and try to find a part in it that, if portrayed in a particular way, could get a strong response from the audience. I will then concentrate on this and develop it as much as I can. Having said that, I often have great ideas as to how I will say a particular line, but when it comes to the audition, nerves come into play, and it often doesn’t come out the way I intended it!

Do you enjoy rehearsals?

I do. It’s great fun to be “working” with friends, putting everything together to create a show. I enjoy seeing how the show develops over the rehearsal period. From the initial singing rehearsals, where we learn the individual voice parts, and then combine them to produce full harmonies. Also, how often chaotic early dance steps miraculously evolve into well-ordered dance routines. (Or, in my case, evolve into slightly-less-chaotic dance steps!).

Do you find that your character changes during the rehearsal process?

Yes, the character evolves over the duration of the rehearsals. You start with initial ideas of how to play the role, and during rehearsals you may experiment with ways to say or portray certain aspects. Some things work and some don’t, and so you try to incorporate all the best bits.

Kevin Pope Top Hat
Kevin as the undercover valet/vicar in 2018’s Top Hat.

Do you enjoy show week?

Absolutely. Show week is the culmination of all the hard work. I usually get nervous before first going on to the stage. However, once you have come on, and things are going well, the feeling is tremendous. It is always great when you get that first laugh from the audience. You know that you have made a connection. This encourages you to put more into your performance, which is then rewarded by more reaction. It is a two-way thing. When you have a good relationship with the audience the feeling can be awesome.

Is there a part you’ve always wanted to play?

There are a couple of parts that my dad played which I would really like to take on: Fagin in Oliver! and Scrooge in A Christmas Carol. And of course, if we ever had the chance to do Les Miserables, I would love to play Thernadier, the innkeeper.

How would you describe your ideal part?

My ideal part would:
~ Be a strong character
~ Have some great comedy content and memorable songs
~ Not have too many lines to learn
~ Not require any precise dance moves
~ Have at least one drunk scene!

Thanks, Kevin!

Member’s Q&A – why is Kate Brock hoping to one day defy gravity?

Every few months, we like to turn the spotlight on an AOS member and find out a little more about them. This time it’s Kate Brock.

Where, when and why did you first get involved in musical theatre?

My family took me to see Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat in Edinburgh when I was very young and I was completely enthralled by it – to the extent that I was practically hanging over the balcony reaching out for Paul Schofield (who played Joseph) when he rose up in his dreamcoat at the finale!  I auditioned for and was accepted into the National Youth Music Theatre (NYMT) – and that’s when the love affair really began.

Do you have a favourite show?

Overall, it has to be Les Misérables – epic, historical and French!  I have cherished memories of playing Fantine in the school version when I was 17, but be warned, I can actually sing the entire score off by heart, including all the men’s parts and one-liners.

Sound of Music
Kate as Maria in The Sound of Music.

Do you learn a part quickly or struggle with lines?

I usually get a feel for both script and music fairly quickly, but it can sometimes be a slog to get completely ‘off-book’. Mind you, a few years ago I played Daisy in Daisy Pulls It Off.  She practically talks non-stop in jolly hockey sticks syntax for the entire show.  No line-learning has seemed quite as challenging after that.

Do you enjoy show week?

Yes, tremendously, despite nerves.  I love the feeling of camaraderie both onstage and backstage – I have made some really good friends in this Society.  And singing every night with an orchestra is just wonderful.

With her co-stars in Singin’ in the Rain.

How do you deal with nerves before you go onstage?

Breathing, stretches and saying a little prayer!  And I drink LOTS of water – I am usually responsible for the enormous queue outside the backstage loo!  There’s always that moment when you stand in the wings trembling and think: why do I put myself through this?  But I’ve come to realise that nerves are part of the process: sometimes life begins at the end of your comfort zone.

So is it a relief or a let down when show week ends?

Both.  It’s a bittersweet feeling, coming to the end of a show – reality is momentarily suspended and then it’s back home to the inevitability of the overflowing washing basket.  But then you look forward to seeing everyone again at the next show’s talk-in.

Having fun in 42nd Street
Having fun in 42nd Street

And is there a part you’ve always wanted to play but haven’t yet?

I’ve always fancied having a go at Mary Magdalene in Jesus Christ Superstar.  And – moving into the realms of fantasy for a moment – I would love to defy gravity as Elphaba in Wicked.

Thanks, Kate.

Member’s Q&A – so what has been John Wilkes’ favourite role?

Every few months, we like to turn the spotlight on an AOS member and find out a little more about them. This time it’s John Wilkes.

What’s been your favourite AOS role and why?

I’ve been lucky enough to play a lot of memorable parts.  Gilbert & Sullivan roles are always a good romp, and I enjoyed Gaylord Ravenal in Showboat.  For sauciness, the Emcee in Cabaret takes a lot of beating and Evelyn Oakleigh in Anything Goes was great fun.  But top billing probably goes to Oliver Warbucks in Annie – it’s a fulfilling part and the show is good fluffy fun.

Cabaret John Wilkes 2002
John Wilkes as Emcee in 2002’s Cabaret.

What’s the best thing about being in a show?

Two things – the camaraderie of doing something with a great bunch of people.  We’re all in it together and working to do the best we can for the audience.  And that’s the second thing.  I love the reaction of a live audience, and trying to please and entertain people who have made the effort to come and see us, rather than sitting on the sofa in front of the TV.

Are you aware of the audience when you’re on stage?

Gosh, yes!  Performing would be a very flat experience without an audience reacting to what’s going on.  I sometimes think the audience is half the performance.  An audience is the very stuff of a live show and what makes it interactive and real.

How do you combat performance nerves?

Nerves are an essential part of performing, I think – they keep you on your toes.  I don’t get nervous about the things I do, but about the things I might not do… like forgetting a move or a word, or to come on at all.  I do look over my words and moves before going on to do a scene, just to get into the ‘zone’.

How do you feel when show week comes to an end?

I know a lot of people come down with a bump after the excitement of the week of the show, but actually I feel okay.  I think that we’ve done our thing and now it’s time to move on to something new.