Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Big Interview: Daniel Buckley

Daniel Buckley is currently starring in Ushers: The Front of House Musical which concludes its run at the Charing Cross Theatre on Saturday (7th June 2014). 

The new musical was originally entered into @WestEndProducer’s Search For A Twitter Composer competition ahead of its premiere at the Hope Theatre last year. The production then transferred to the Charing Cross Theatre as the venue’s late-night show in March and, following a successful run, was recently promoted to the theatre’s main show spot. 

Daniel created the role of Marvin Camden in the West End premiere of Loserville at the Garrick Theatre, having also played the role during the musical’s run at the West Yorkshire Playhouse. For his performance in Loserville, Daniel won the 2012 West End Frame Award for Funniest Performance in a West End show. 

He went on to be standby Elder Cunningham in the original West End production of The Book of Mormon at the Prince of Wales Theatre and recently performed in one of Scott Alan’s sell-out concerts at the London Hippodrome. 

Daniel’s theatre credits also include playing: Piggy in Lord of the Flies (UK Tour), Fresher – The Musical (Edinburgh Fringe) and Otto in Spring Awakening (UK Tour). 

I recently caught up with the West End Frame Award winner to discuss all things Ushers, Scott Alan and desert island musical theatre song choices before he answered some of your questions! 

How’s life in Ushers?
Great! I’m really enjoying it!

Do you enjoy being part of a completely new show?
Yes! When people say, “What’s a dream job?” I think it’s something where you can create. I think a lot of actors would say that. Of course I would love to go into a show which lots of generations of performers have already done, but I think being able to create is really exciting.

Ushers has been on quite a journey, from @WestEndProducer’s competition to the Hope Theatre and then transferring to the Charing Cross Theatre as the late night show before being promoted to the main show. There’s nothing else like it in London at the moment!
I know! We get treated really well at the Charing Cross. Steven (M Levy), who is now our producer, has done loads. He’s so generous! It’s interesting because the audiences we had at 10.15pm are very different to the audiences we have now. It’s nice because it’s given the show a different feel and you never really know how they’re going to react. 

You’ve also worked as a real Usher, so what is it like to now be playing one?
I’m just… really method [laughs]. Some of the specific things have happened to me – like the talking about the float and ‘spend-per-head’. But honestly, I don’t really have any really funny stories; I’ve never had to deal with anything apart from people taking photographs. I’ve always had a laugh working front of house!

What can people expect? How would you describe the score?
It’s contemporary and it’s just fun! Even if you haven’t worked front of house there are so many moments which you will find funny. If you’re stagey there are lots of references which are hilarious, I really love one of the stagey songs called ‘The Parts I Could Play’.

So you recently performed at one of Scott Alan’s concerts at The Hippodrome! Have you always wanted to work with him?
Of course! He works with such amazing people! It was a privilege. This time he wanted to work with lots of people he hadn’t worked with before which was really nice. It was an amazing experience. There was a last minute song change which worked out well because I got to sing the song I originally wanted to sing. It was an amazing night! It was the same day as our first preview of Ushers as the Charing Cross Theatre’s main show and I was so sick with nerves – I thought it was because I was nervous about the gig. But after Ushers I felt really calm, and when I got to the venue I was chilled and then I was really relieved when they said I could sing ‘Now’. 

So, imagine you had to go to a desert island and could only take three musical theatre songs with you… which three would you take?
Right – I’ve prepared! It’s so difficult because you’re not asking what are your three favourite songs – you’re asking which three you would want on a desert island! You’re going to want to listen to something uplifting, something that reminds you of someone and something that makes you cry… and you don’t want to get sick of any of them! It’s also not fair because it would depend what mood I was in! I have to take ‘Taking The Wheel’ from It's Only Life – I would take anything from that album! ‘Now and for Always’ from Lord of the Rings and then finally I’m randomly going to pick a song which makes me feel epic whenever I see it live – ‘Once We Were Kings’ from Billy Elliot.

That’s a really good one!
Purely because it’s just so overwhelming when you see it in context. It’s so powerful and whenever I listen to it I can always relate to that moment. 

Interviewed by Andrew Tomlins (Editor)

Reader Questions

@nikkipock: @DanBuckley1989 how do you deal with rejection? 
I don't really see it as rejection anymore – I guess the closer you get to a job, the harder it is to hear you didn't get it, but generally I am quite good at turning negatives situations positive. The best part about getting to finals or getting a recall is you did something right and you had an opportunity to show your abilities to a panel of people and I always like to think they would be willing to endure me again in auditions in the future. I've only ever had one "I MUST BE SEEN FOR THIS PART" moment and that was for Elder Cunningham in The Book of Mormon. 

@nikkipock: @DanBuckley1989 What's your dream job? If you could only listen to one musical forever what would it be? 
I don't have a 'dream role' as such but I guess a dream job would be to create something from scratch and make your stamp on a production from the beginning. The musical question is hard because I go through phases of convincing myself which one it might be but it's a tossup between Its Only Life and Sideshow.

@tanyabc90: @DanBuckley1989 Dream role in a West End show? 
Luckily I was able to play Cunningham but aside from that there are roles I would love to play but won't mention in fear of being laughed at for thinking I could 'break the mould'. I have to consider that roles are cast the way they are for a reason, despite how well I think a 'bigger' lad could work in the production [laughs]!

@Lesterbuddy: @DanBuckley1989 if u woke up with the ability to have any skill/job in the world without needing any training -what one would u choose & why?
Probably something that takes years and a lot of brains to accomplish like being a type of surgeon. I always wanted to be a Doctor growing up as my parents are a GP Nurse and a Paramedic so maybe surgeon would suit me, having said that I'm really squeamish. Maybe that wouldn't work. 

@dollyincyp: @DanBuckley1989 what's your favourite part about being an actor?
Getting to meet so many amazingly tactile and personable people. Actors can be really over familiar which is sometimes nice to be around. It doesn't take long for a group of actors to start discussing inappropriate things and having a laugh. I've also had the pleasure of being able to really appreciate stage management/dressers the past two years and I'm so grateful I've had the pleasure of working with the people I have done! 

@KatharineMoraz: @DanBuckley1989 what's the most valuable thing you've learnt after leaving drama school?
To just be a bloody nice or positive person. I spent too long out of drama school being harsh on everyone and everything including myself and it's just not healthy. I had to force myself to find the positives in things again instead of letting the negatives take over. That being said, I'm grateful I have that sense of criticism because I think it's what makes me strive for better within myself from all aspects of life, not just as an actor. As a result I tend to be very good at seeing things from lots of different perspectives. I think that makes me quite level headed and able to try and be positive when necessary and not just for the sake of ‘being positive’. A fair few people would still argue that I'm quite grumpy but I generally think those people met me when I was at drama school or had not been long out. My favourite phrase is actually ‘pissin me off' which I say an unhealthy amount for dramatic effect. I'd like to think people didn't take me seriously! I don't take myself seriously! 

@jenibrownsill: @DanBuckley1989 which behind the scenes role would you be most interested in pursuing?
Ideally I'd be a producer of some sort - maybe one day. But to work on a production every night I think maybe a DSM or a dresser. I have a genuine intrigue in that side of a production. On Loserville and The Book of Mormon we had amazing stage management who were really up for a laugh and so reliable in every way. I’m so in awe of how good they are. But also I'm not trained in stage management so I couldn't really tell you specifically what job until I had trained to see what suits me best, I guess. 

@charliecox93: @DanBuckley1989 if you could play any female role, what would it be & why?
Great question. Now - my Musical Theatre knowledge isn't obscure enough to say anything profound and interesting. Maybe Celie in The Color Purple? I saw a great production of The Cherry Orchard at Dundee Rep and remember being in awe of Irene Macdougall who played Ranevskaya and I was in awe of Cynthia Erivo in The Color Purple at the Menier. I couldn’t do either of them half as much justice, mind. Maybe I'm just saying I would want to be the actresses who I saw? This question is hard! Ok- I'd probably like to try and play Mrs Lovett in Sweeney Todd or Jo in Little Women. 

Thank you for all your questions!

Ushers: The Front of House Musical runs at the Charing Cross Theatre until Saturday 7th June 2014. Click here to book tickets (top price seats reduced to £12.50).
Photo Credit 2&3: Leigh Lothian 

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