Who are you and what do you do?
I’m James Bloomfield and I’m a psychology student at the University of Leicester, going into my third year. Much more importantly I’m also the publicity and marketing officer for LUTheatre and I’m playing Melvin in the Nandos musical.
Why get involved?
Because I didn’t have anything else on at the time, and a certain Mr. Ward asked me if I felt like singing a few songs about chicken.
Why did you volunteer for this sight-unseen?
(Because you said it was going to be a one time only 15 minute performance oh god what have I done)
No but really, the serious answer here is that I was hooked from the word “musical”. Singing is really fun and getting to perform original solos that nobody else has sung before has a certain appeal to it.
What has the experience been like so far?
Well at time of writing we’re two performances down with rumours of a third one getting more and more concrete by the day, and so far it’s just been crazy. I get the feeling that I’ve been there from the start, even though I know that compared to what the writers have done my role has been minimal, and I love how there’s just so much energy carrying it forward and letting the production build. I’m a lot more used to performing Shakespeare, so having a script which is constantly evolving and changing from one day to the next is a very different feeling. It’s a lot more alive.
Bad things about the process?
The opening line of my song as I come back on stage from the fictional gentleman’s room. To this day I still haven’t got it right once, and I don’t know why because it’s not even that difficult. Earlier on in the process my voice insisted in cranking out an American accent for an entire rehearsal and refused to behave. So in short, it’s all been great apart from when I went and messed something up!
Yeah, that song’s been cut. Good things?
For me, the highlight of anything like this is the performance itself; I could probably bring in the psychology degree to figure out why I crave attention so much, but that seems like a potentially silly idea so I’ll leave that one well alone. I’ve also really enjoyed working with everyone else who has been involved so far, they’re all lovely people.
You’ve seen various scripts, how has the play/your role evolved?
The biggest change for my character is that he seems to be steadily becoming more and more of an arse, which means less acting is required on my behalf. (Woah, self pity, what?) but I also like how the play as a whole is getting more of a narrative to it. The first time we performed we were so constricted by time that a lot of it had to be rushed through, the second time was less so and hopefully soon it’ll be able to expand even more.
What would you like to see next?
More solos for Melvin, and performing in a real Nando’s so we can have fresh chicken cooked instead of working with stuff that was 6 hours old and had been rained on.
What are you dreading?
The vague threat of a dance number. In early versions I struggled enough with sidestepping, so I really do hope that nothing more complicated happens.
More than threats, my friend, and more than one dance number. What have you learned from doing this? How have you grown?
As I vaguely alluded to above, this is the first time I’ve performed songs which have never been done before, so in terms of my growth as a performer that’s certainly an important milestone. It’s also made me a lot better at line learning, because I’ve never been under this much time pressure for a performance before.
You’ve had two girlfriends and probably a third coming up. What’s your secret?
At first I thought you meant in real life, and was wondering where you got your gratuitous misinformation from… and then I realised that you meant in the play. (See, Grade A Idiot. What was I telling you?) I suppose in that case my secret is having a more open schedule than the people I’m acting opposite. I have found it interesting performing the same songs with different people though, lots of subtitles in how it’s different and how it builds in different ways over rehearsals.
Thank you very much for your time.
Wow. Got through that entire interview without making a chicken pun. How EGGcellent of me! (Sorry, that was fowl… I should be cooped up.)
We are currently looking for a new Melvin. Just kidding, James. Next week, more on Melvin. Will and I will be doing a character study.