I didn’t get to the cinema to see the Rock of Ages film when it came out. I did finally buy the DVD the other day though, and when I found the time to sit down and watch it, I wondered why it had taken me so long to do so. It’s an immensely enjoyable film that captures all the humour, energy and emotion of the stage show and boasts some exceptional performances; in particular, Tom Cruise’s turn as self-destructive rock superstar Stacee Jaxx was enthralling. Film and live theatre are two very different things though, and for me, nothing matches the thrill of watching people perform on stage right in front of you and actually being a part of the experience. The Rock of Ages musical has been in the West End since June 2011, having transferred from Broadway. It plays its last night tonight at the Shaftesbury Theatre where it made its debut, and re-opens at the Garrick Theatre on 18th January, bringing its talented cast along too. Ross Hunter and Natalie Andreou lead as ‘Drew’ and ‘Sherrie’, along with Tim Howar (Stacee Jaxx), Daniel Fletcher (Dennis Dupree) and Simon Lipkin (Lonny). Rocking alongside them are the show’s equally talented ensemble team, some of whom have previously appeared in this feature, such as Tim Driesen. This week, it’s time for another Rock of Ages ensemble member to step into the spotlight of In Profile, so today we welcome Andrew Spillet.
Andrew Spillet hails from Orpington and trained at The Ambury School of Dance and Drama. Rock of Ages is not his first West End show; in fact, he has an extensive list of West End theatre credits to his name. He performed at the Shaftesbury Theatre as ‘Sammy’ in Flashdance, and as ‘Patsy’ in Spamalot at the Palace Theatre. He has also played ‘Nathaniel/Paul’ in Kiss Me, Kate at the Victoria Palace Theatre, ‘Flat-Top’ in Starlight Express at the Apollo Victoria Theatre and covered and played the role of ‘Amos’ in Whistle Down The Wind at the Aldwych Theatre, as well as appearing in the production of Our House directed by Matthew Warchus at the Cambridge Theatre. He was also involved in both the workshop of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Beautiful Game as part of the composer’s Sydmonton Festival, and in the subsequent West End production at the Cambridge Theatre.
It’s not just West End musical theatre audiences that have had the pleasure of seeing Spillet perform on stage. He played the role of ‘Kangaroo’ in Just So and ‘Strephon’ in Out of This World, both at the Chichester Festival Theatre. He’s also played ‘Al’ in A Chorus Line at the Sheffield Crucible and appeared in performances of Showboat and La Boheme at the prestigious venue of the Royal Albert Hall. Of course, no performer’s stage life is complete without a panto turn and Spillet is no exception, having played ‘Panky’ in the Sean Matthias-directed production of Aladdin at the Old Vic. If you’re going to do panto, then that’s the way to do it!
Spillet has also been involved in the workshops of It’s A Wonderful Life and We Will Rock You. Now though, he is rocking out on stage every night in Chris D’Arienzo’s Rock of Ages, which plays homage to the Rock N’ Roll classics of the 1980s, such as ‘I Want To Know What Love Is’ (Foreigner), ‘Here I Go Again’ (Whitesnake) and ‘Don’t Stop Believin’’ (Journey). He is one of the few remaining cast members who were part of the original company and covers several different roles within the show, including that of ‘Mayor’, last going onstage in the role in December. In a joint interview with (now) former cast member Justin Lee Collins (who he understudied for) in 2011, Spillet spoke about the ‘daunting task’ of playing various characters and picked Simon Lipkin’s ‘Lonny’ as his favourite role to play: “He’s awesome. He’s really hard to play though because there are so many different facets to his character,” (News Shopper, 11th November 2011).
Rock of Ages is a highly enjoyable musical and Andrew Spillet is a highly talented performer. What further reason do you need to pay a visit to the Garrick Theatre when the musical re-opens there later this month?
By Julie Robinson (@missjulie25)
Saturday 5th January 2012