Friday, 19 June 2015

Interview: Will Payne, starring in Teddy at the Southwark Playhouse

Will Payne is currently starring as Johnny Valentine in the world première of Teddy by Tristan Bernays at the Southwark Playhouse.

Will previously starred in the West End production of Backbeat at the Duke of York’s Theatre whilst his screen credits include: Mr Selfridge, The Red Tent, Summer in Transylvania, The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box and Elfie Hopkins.

I recently spoke to Will about life as a rockstar, what makes Teddy stand out and why he’s thrilled to be originating a role in a new piece of theatre…

Teddy is completely different to anything else on at the moment. What were your first impressions when you heard about the piece?
Well I did a show called Backbeat in the West End a few years ago and it was a really enjoyable experience getting to play this rockstar every night! So when I heard the music for Teddy and read the script it was really exciting. You’re right – it is very different to anything which is out there. We’ve got a really nice team together. I get to be a rockstar again every night which is great [laughs]!

Slightly different from your day-to-day life!
[laughs] Yes it certainly is a different world to me. It’s a nice feeling, one of the best things is getting to play with a band – for me there’s nothing quite like that feeling. It’s all about getting down and dirty with the music – it’s a million miles away from me as an individual. Johnny is a mysterious guy, we like the idea of him being more like Johnny Cash as opposed to someone more showy-off like Elvis. He’s just a guy who really loves to play. 

Will in rehearsals

What do you think audiences will go through each night? I believe they can expect “sex, violence and damn good hair”!
There’s definitely a lot of damn good hair [laughs]. The whole thing is very rock ‘n’ roll, it’s a bit dirty and very gritty. It’s mainly Jo (Joseph Prowen) and Jenn (Jennifer Kirby) as Teddy and Josie who bring the world together. They play all these different characters and bring this amazing journey together. It’s been put together really well – it’s clever. 

What has Dougal Irvine, the composer, been like to work with? I imagine you’ve been working with him quite closely?
Yeah, constantly. He’s really, really lovely to work with; he’s kind of let us be really free with everything and put our own little spins and twists on things. It’s been great because we’ve been able to create the band, we haven’t just been put in a show and been told what to do – we’ve been put together and have been able to give it our own flavour and that’s really cool. All the writing is so brilliant that it has been quite an easy process. 

Do you think the piece lends itself to the intimacy of the Southwark Playhouse?
Teddy and Josie are on the way to this gig to see Johnny Valentine and the Broken Hearts so we really want the audience to feel like they are in this gig. We like the audience to be lively and feel excited – like they want to be there as opposed to us just randomly breaking into song. 

It must be great going from television where there’s a very fast turnaround time to something like this where you get to be creative and create something brand new!
Absolutely! Doing TV and film is fun but Christ… you don’t have any rehearsal time – you just show up on set and are like ‘Well I guess I’m doing this…’ and then before you know it you’re on to the next scene. With this we get to completely explore everything because it’s a new piece of theatre which is very exciting. This is our baby and we can do our own thing with the roles we are creating. Hopefully audiences will not only love what Tristan (Bernays, writer) and Dougal have put together, but also what we as individuals bring to these characters. 

Interviewed by Andrew Tomlins (Editor)

Teddy runs at the Southwark Playhouse until 27th June 2015. 
Please visit for further information and tickets.

Photo Credit: Darren Bell

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