There are a variety of musical stage productions in the West End to satisfy every theatrical taste bud. Variety is the spice of life after all. The jukebox musical doesn’t appeal to everyone, but it does have more than its share of fans. Jukebox musicals such as ABBA’s Mamma Mia and Queen’s We Will Rock You have been in town for years now, and with more arrivals of new productions based on popular music genres/artists, they certainly have marked out a niche for themselves in the theatre industry.
The hit musical Jersey Boys is one show which has more than earned its place in the West End. Jersey Boys, based on the music of 1960’s rock ‘n roll band The Four Seasons, opened at the Prince Edward Theatre in 2008 and has won an array of theatrical awards, including Best New Musical in the 2008 Laurence Olivier Awards. It is still going strong after five years in the West End and currently boasts a talented cast of performers, including of course its ensemble, and it is new addition to the show, Michael Watson, who is the ensemble member featured in this week’s In Profile.
Michael Watson is a home-grown Essex boy. He grew up in Clacton-on-Sea and began his theatre training there as a student of the Tiffany Stage Academy. He tirelessly worked towards his dream of performing on stage professionally, and at just sixteen years old, he won a scholarship to the Tiffany Theatre College in Southend. He graduated from the school’s Musical Theatre course in 2006.
After two years of training, Watson took his first steps into the professional world of stage performance and immediately made great strides by securing a role in We Will Rock You and simultaneously making his West End debut. He spent the next two years at the Dominion Theatre performing in the show’s ensemble before moving on and achieving another goal: being part of a show’s original London cast. He joined the company of new musical Imagine This at the New London Theatre, once again as an ensemble member but also as 1st cover to the role of Billy. He features on the musical’s original cast recording.
Watson’s West End theatre credits continued to rack up in 2009 as he went on to appear in another original London cast, this time in Broadway transfer Sister Act. He performed in the ensemble on his biggest stage yet, the London Palladium, appearing alongside the show’s star Patina Miller and once again featuring on the cast recording. As his experience grew, so did his opportunities, and he once again found himself as 1st cover; this time understudying the roles of TJ and Dinero. He ended the year with that classic British tradition that few stage performers can resist: pantomime. He played the title role in Jack and the Beanstalk at the Radlett Theatre, completing the rite of passage that most performers go through.
His time in the panto proved to be something of a good omen. He found himself back in the West End in the original London cast of his third musical and in somewhat familiar territory in his ensemble role of Jack and the Beanstalk. He appeared on stage with the likes of Nigel Lindsay, Amanda Holden, Richard Blackwood and Nigel Harman, and sometimes in the more prominent role of Pinocchio, for which he was 1st cover.
Watson left the show in 2012 and was involved in a number of projects throughout the year. He travelled to the Deutsches Theatre, Munich in the cast of Hair The Musical as a Tribe member and 1st cover to Woof. He also shared a stage with Su Pollard as Rooster in the international tour of Annie and played Billy the DJ in the tour of musical Disco Inferno. In addition to this, he also appeared in the Chess Anniversary Concert at the Royal Albert Hall with Kerry Ellis and Idina Menzel, played Woof in the charity gala performance of Hair The Musical at the Piccadilly Theatre for Help For Heroes and was involved in the work-shops for Ghost The Musical, In Touch and All or Nothing.
Michael Watson has earned himself a wealth of experience in his six years of working in the theatre industry and has a plethora of West End credits to his name, having been part of some of its biggest shows. He began his professional career in the jukebox musical We Will Rock You, and now his latest adventure has taken him back to that world as he recently joined the company of Jersey Boys in the cast change earlier this month as a swing. You have to earn your stripes to really get anywhere in life and Michael Watson is looking noticeably stripy these days – one day soon, I hope theatre audiences will get to see him on stage in a leading role.
By Julie Robinson (@missjulie25)
Saturday 16th March 2013