Thursday, 18 September 2014

Interview: Liam Doyle

Liam Doyle is currently rehearsing for the UK premiere of Altar Boyz. The production will play a strictly limited run of 14 performances at the Greenwich Theatre between Friday 3rd October and Saturday 18th October 2014.

Altar Boyz is described as a “foot-stomping, rafter-raising” musical comedy about a fictitious boyband on the last night of their Raise the Praise tour. The show is “full of sharp parody, sinfully spectacular dancing and irreverent humour.” 

Liam recently originated the role of Fiyero in the first UK and Ireland tour of Wicked. After winning GMTV’s ‘Search for Troy Bolton’ competition, Liam toured the UK as Troy in High School Musical. 

His theatre credits also include: Link in Hairspray (UK Tour), Eddie and understudy Sky in Mamma Mia! (Prince of Wales / Novello), Camp Rock (Dubai), Ricky Nelson in Rock ‘n’ Roll Heaven (national tour) and After The Turn (Courtyard). 

I recently spoke to Liam about life post Wicked, why Altar Boyz is a new challenge and the support he receives from theatre fans…

You’ve just left Wicked and have literally gone straight into rehearsals for Altar Boyz. Is your brain frazzled? Both shows couldn’t be more different!
Yes! It’s actually a really nice change. I loved being in Wicked but this is something which is new and which is really fresh. Everybody working on Altar Boyz wants it to be the best it possibly can be, there’s such a nice team. I’m loving every second of it! It has actually made leaving Wicked a lot easier because this is so much fun.

Altar Boyz ran off-Broadway for five years, playing thousands of performances. How much did you already know about it?
Well I kind of knew the music ages ago but I didn’t really know the book because I just had the album on my iPod. I always enjoyed it because it is pastiche – it’s absolutely tongue-in-cheek and really funny. It’s such a good show but hard to explain to people! It’s brilliant! There are five boys, full out choreography and the story is really heartfelt… which I hadn’t actually realised. I thought, ‘oh ok, it’s going to take the mick out of A Christian boyband… ha ha ha’, but I think it’s going to be really touching. It’s always nice for a comedy to have a slightly serious edge. 

Liam and the cast of Altar Boyz

And it’s only 90 minutes!
Yes – it’s only an hour and a half long with no interval; I’ve never done a show like that before so it’s a new challenge for me to keep my stamina up for an hour and a half.

How will people come away feeling?
People will definitely come away thinking they’ve had a fantastic night at the theatre. From the second people see what we’ve been doing in rehearsals and how full out this choreography is I think they will be really impressed. I love it! Ewan (Jones) our choreographer is fantastic. He’s like, ‘we’re giving it Backstreet Boys, N Sync blag’ – it’s quality! It has got a bit of everything really. When you say, “It’s a Christian boyband” to people they sometimes think we’re being serious [laughs], but it’s really funny. 

What is the music like?
It’s like pop – think Backstreet Boys, N Sync, Westlife… 90s boybands. The hay day of boybands – it’s fantastic. I’ll tell you what, because there are only five of us it’s really exposed. It’s a good challenge for all of us because everybody has a different harmony line. Sometimes when you’re in shows there are people who are really good singers or really good dancers but they can’t do it all. With Altar Boyz you have to be able to do everything really well otherwise it’s going to be noticed. The boys we’ve got are fantastic!

What are they like to work with? Is there a nice atmosphere in rehearsals?
Yes! They’re great; I’ve worked with Jonny (Fines) before. Because there are not that many people in the rehearsal room it feels like a little team which I’m really enjoying. Everybody is so supportive. It’s hard work but we have a laugh and that is what makes it fun.

Do you enjoy the rehearsal process? Especially when you are rehearsing something fresh like this?
The rehearsal process is probably one of my favourite parts because you get to find where the show sits in your body and form relationships with people who you have never met before. I’ve been lucky to work for a long time and usually you are with these people for a year, but we’re only together for six weeks so are just having an absolute ball and getting on well together. 

Does it feel strange to have left the Wicked bubble after a year on the road with the show?
It was really weird because my girlfriend has stayed on for a second year in the show and on Tuesday she rang me and it was the half and I could hear the call going on in the background. You know when you feel like you’re late for something but know you’re never going to make it on time? I was feeling like that and a bit anxious. I had the best year in Wicked, it was fantastic. I’m glad that Altar Boyz is a new challenge for me, it’s good to do something completely different. I don’t think Wicked will be judged against anything else – it will stand alone. I’m very lucky that all the jobs I have done have stood alone in themselves so I can look back at them and enjoy the memories and then look forward to the next adventure when it comes along. 

Liam and the cast of Altar Boyz

Imagine you had to go to a desert island and could only take three musical theatre songs with you. Which three would you take and why?
Right so I’m going to go for ‘I Believe’ from Alter Boyz because I have to and it is my favourite song in the show. Musical theatre songs… let me think… I’m going to choose ‘Moving Too Fast’ from The Last Five Years and… let’s think of a girl’s song… ‘Once Upon A Time’ from Brooklyn.

Last question, it must be lovely knowing you have support behind you from theatre fans?
I have to say there have been a lot of people who have been really supportive of me and it has been amazing. Obviously being in Wicked the show has such a big fanbase. They’re all messaging me things like, ‘We can’t wait to come and see you in Alter Boyz’ which is really nice. I’m always so grateful of the support. If I’m honest the only reason I’m here is because of the support of the people who voted for me to win that TV competition even though it was so long ago. I will never not be grateful and I will always stop and talk to anybody who supports me because sometimes it costs a lot of money to go the theatre! Even if I’m not in the show I’m grateful for people just going to the theatre because it keeps all of us in jobs! 

Interviewed by Andrew Tomlins (Editor)

Altar Boyz runs at the Greenwich Theatre between Friday 3rd October and Saturday 18th October 2014. Please visit for further information and tickets.

Photo Credit: Darren Bell

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