The theatre world has been abuzz with the recent announcement that a musical production of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is set to head to the West End next year. Directed by Oscar-winning director Sam Mendes, with a book by playwright David Greig and new songs contributed by composing team Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, the musical overhaul of Roald Dahl’s popular children’s story will open at the London Palladium in June 2013. The opening of a new musical inevitably means the closure of an old one however, and the Palladium’s doors close on its current tenant The Wizard of Oz on 2nd September 2012.
Andrew Lloyd Webber’s production of The Wizard of Oz hit the West End in 2011 after the renowned composer used the format of television to search for an undiscovered star to play Dorothy (Over The Rainbow). The show’s eventual winner Danielle Hope won critical acclaim for her performance. I have seen WOZ on several occasions and it’s just as apparent that she was not the only star on that stage. The principal actors aside, WOZ has been fortunate enough to have a wonderful ensemble team to bring added colour and flair to the production. I’ve previously featured members of the WOZ ensemble in other In Profile articles, and this week, it’s the turn of Owain Rhys Davies.
Davies is a talented performer who works as a swing in the show. He graduated from the esteemed Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts (LIPA) in 2003, joining the ranks of other LIPA students who have gone on to carve out a professional living on the stage. He also completed a Post Graduate Acting course at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York in 2009.
Davies’ first professional job came in 2003, when he joined the cast of Mamma Mia at the Prince Edward Theatre, understudying and playing the role of Pepper. He stayed in the company for one year, following that up with a series of gigs that included A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (Olivier Theatre) and being a soloist in the televised Urdd Opening Concert at the Millennium Centre. In 2006, he was involved in several theatrical productions, such as Abigail’s Party (Chapter Arts Centre) and Fiddler on the Roof (Aberystwyth Arts Centre), as well as taking part in a workshop of Mary Stuart in Wales in which he played the role of William Davison. He followed these up with further theatre roles, which include playing S.S Guard/Cover Izzy in Imagine This (Theatre Royal Plymouth), Angel George in The Exquisite Corpse (The Millennium Centre), Rev. Eli Jenkins/Mrs Dai Bread 1/Mr Pugh in Dylan Thomas Abridged (US Tour), Dave in An Epic Portrayal of Mundane Love (Sherman Cymru), Crow in The Wizard of Oz (Royal Festival Hall), Grumpskin the Dwarf in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe (Royal Lyceum Theatre), Jim/Edwin in The Gut Girls (Sherman Theatre), Cubby in Concrete Boots (Etcetera Theatre – 2009, 2010), Edward in Never, Fear, Love? (Wales Millennium Centre), Tabaqui/The Jackal in The Jungle Book (Castle Theatre) and Rex in Tidy (St. David’s Hall). Further workshops include My People (Sherman Cymru), Rod/Taxi Driver in Good Arrows (ITV) and Rhys in Llwyth (Sherman Cymru). Davies played Bingo Reeves in a production of By Jeeves! at the Landor Theatre in 2011 before finding his current home with The Wizard of Oz company.
With the closure of the musical this autumn, the future is an open road for its company and who knows what lies in store for them? Owain Rhys Davies certainly has more adventures ahead of him and for those who choose to go on them with him, the future is an exciting and very promising place.
You can follow Owain on Twitter (@owainRdavies).
By Julie Robinson (@missjulie25)
Saturday 7th July 2012