Still currently in previews, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s latest West End musical about the events behind the 1963 Profumo Affair has been riding the publicity wave ahead of its official opening night at the Aldwych Theatre next Thursday (19th December 2013). Composer Lloyd Webber appeared on The Graham Norton Show last week to talk about Stephen Ward The Musical and The Times named it as one of the Top Five shows to see this Christmas, not to mention that it was announced this week that the studio cast recording is now set to be released on 30th December 2013. Then there is its presence on social networking sites such as twitter. I’ve heard some mixed views on the show so far and it remains to be seen whether Lloyd Webber’s new creation will be able to match the success of his previous hit shows or be added to the list of his flops. For now though, things are looking good for the West End’s latest arrival and some of the credit for that must go to the top-notch cast who sing and dance their way through the production on the stage of the Aldwych Theatre each night. Alexander Hanson has been on the receiving end of some pretty glow-worthy praise for his performance in the musical’s title role, but very show is a joint effort and the entire company are stars; that includes Jason Denton, who is the featured ensemble member for this week’s edition of In Profile.
Londoner Jason Denton has always had a love of the stage and has worked hard to get where he is today. He has gathered quite the list of theatre credits on his journey, and his recent casting in Stephen Ward has finally led him straight into the spotlight of London’s West End.
It was his training at Italia Conti Academy that prepared him so well for a successful career in the entertainment world. One of the oldest and most prestigious theatre arts training schools in the country, Italia Conti has given the industry such stage stars as Bonnie Langford, Tracie Bennett and Peter Duncan, as well as the late renowned playwright and actor Noel Coward. During his time at the Academy Denton was involved in several productions, including an ensemble role in Heroes and Villains and playing Bert Barry in 42nd Street, as well as appearing as a choral singer at The Royal Masonic Variety Show.
He graduated from Italia Conti Academy’s 3-year Musical Theatre course in 2008 and stepped into the professional world of stage performance. In that same year, he was involved in a variety of projects, with one of the earliest being his star role as Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing for The Complete Works Theatre while still in education. He also travelled abroad to perform with The Showteam in Majorca, appearing as a vocalist in such shows as The Legends of Las Vegas, Fiesta Fiesta and Pure Classics.
He built on that touring experience in 2009 when he was cast in Bill Kenwright’s UK Tour of Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat, playing Isaccher/Calypso Singer. Following that, Denton joined the company of the new Barbican/TRSE production of John Adams’ I Was Looking at the Ceiling and then I Saw the Sky at the Theatre Royal Stratford East. In a cast of ‘rising stars’ which featured Natasha Barnes and Cynthia Erivo, he played the role of David. He also took part in a work shop of James Peries ‘Free World as Pedro at the same venue.
Later that year, he landed one of his biggest roles when he joined the new and redesigned production of Hot Stuff at the Leicester Curve. Just 24-years old at the time, he played Joe Soap in the acclaimed musical, the anti-hero who sells his soul to the devil to make his wildest dreams come true. The role came with a number of challenges, such as learning to perform in high heels and appearing on stage in just his underwear; in an interview with The Public Reviews (24th September 2010), he talked about these challenges, quipping that, “I’m thinking about going to the gym more in the coming weeks.”
He took a panto role as Prince Michael in Sleeping Beauty at the Keneth More Theatre in Ilford after that, and then it was back on the road in the New Year as he joined the 2011 UK Tour of Britain’s Got Bhangra in the supporting lead role of Jason. Another Bill Kenwright tour followed straight after when he was cast in the lead role of Curtis in Save The Last Dance For Me.
He returned to the Leicester Curve between 2012 and 2013 for roles in two further productions which rank high on his list of theatre credits, starting with the musical Hello Dolly! in which he played Barnaby Tucker. He then appeared in Pan Gem’s Piaf, a musical scrapbook of moments from the life of iconic French singer Edith Piaf. Led by Frances Ruffelle in the title role, the production was well-received and additional dates were added due to demand. Denton played the role of Yves Montand, the 18-year old who was discovered by Piaf and incorporated into her act.
Denton’s other theatre credits include appearing as a back-up singer in De La Divas (Tivoli Theatre) and as a guest vocalist in Seasons and Cycles (Battersea Barge). He is also part of the cast of performers singing in the West End Voices at Christmas concert at The Actor’s Church next Sunday night (22nd December 2013) in aid of the Honeypot charity.
He is currently appearing in Stephen Ward The Musical at the Aldwych Theatre. His ensemble role in the show includes on-stage appearances as President Ayub Khan and also marks his West End debut, which has to make losing his afro for a short haircut a trade worth making.
Jason Denton has finally made it into the West End after years of honing his craft with a whole host of theatre-based productions. Now that he has arrived, the West End would be foolish to let this talented performer go again.
You can follow Jason on twitter: @JasonDentonact
By Julie Robinson (@missjulie25)
Saturday 14th December 2013