Everyone has moments in their life where the path gets a little rocky. Happiness is not a constant, it ebbs and flows, but as long as it is present in your life (no matter how large or small the measure) then you’re doing something right. It can be hard to see that on those down days though, and climbing out of the dark crevice on your own can seem an impossible task; sometimes, you need a little push, and for the theatre fan, a visit to the theatrical world of make-believe is the perfect prescription. Escaping into someone else’s story for a few hours can be just the distraction you need to send you home with a smile on your face once again. In times of need, a little light relief will probably be more effective than a big, tragic melodrama, and the West End has plenty of those to dole out: Shrek The Musical, Rock of Ages, Wicked etc These are all great shows to give you a lift, but if laughter is the best medicine, then Spamalot is the dose to take. Based on the 1975 film Monty Python and the Holy Grail, this musical comedy parodies the legend of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table to hilarious effect with the help of killer bunnies, showgirls and women slapping men with fish. It takes a cast of talented stage performers to bring the world of medieval mayhem and jest to life though, and that is something Spamalot certainly has. That is why, this week, the featured ensemble member for In Profile is Chris Jenkins.
Chris Jenkins is a 25 year old Welsh actor from Penarth, Vale of Glamorgan who received his professional stage training at the prestigious Guildford School of Acting, graduating in 2009 with a BA Hons in Musical Theatre. Having previously appeared at the Wales Millennium Centre as ‘Prince Tarrogan’ in Tickledom: An Enchanting Family Musical and in the chorus of Chess In Concert (Royal Albert Hall), his first onstage performance post-training was as ‘Demetrius’ in a touring production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in Wales, for which he was also the fight director. This was closely followed by a return to the Wales Millennium Centre in the role of ‘Bobby Duval’, which he originated in the all-new big band musical Come Fly With Me. That same year, he also played ‘Callum King’ in the Perfect Pitch production of original musical Super Alice Smith at Trafalgar Studios and appeared at the Liverpool Empire Theatre over the Christmas season in Peter Pan, playing ‘Cecco/Medicine Man’ and covering the role of ‘Smee’ in a cast which also featured Les Dennis and Henry Winkler.
Jenkins spent 2010 in much the same vein, performing in a wide variety of theatrical productions. The first new role he secured in that year was that of a ‘Samurai Warrior’ in Verdi’s Aida after joining the company of the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden. He was also involved in other productions for the ROH, playing ‘Guard/Ship Builder’ in Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra and as the assistant fight captain for Charles Gounod’s Romeo et Juliette. Further theatre credits included a workshop of The Devil’s Advocate as ‘John Milton/Devil’ (Upstairs at The Gatehouse), playing ‘Adraste’ in The Sicilian (Tour), ‘Harry’ in Journey Through Jazz and appearing as a singer in The Beatles Philharmonic Tribute: 50th Anniversary Concert (Royal Albert Hall). The year of 2010 was rounded off by playing ‘Larry Foreman’ in the 10th anniversary production of The Cradle Will Rock at the Arcola Theatre; incidentally, this was the last production to be staged at the Arcola Street location before the move to the new site.
After playing the role of ‘Jamie Wellerstein’ in Jason Robert Brown’s The Last Five Years (Theatre Severn, Shrewsbury), Jenkins achieved his ambition to perform on stage in the West End when he joined the company of The Umbrella’s of Cherbourg (Gielgud Theatre). He made his West End debut as a Swing, covering the roles of ‘Guy/Cassard’ in the musical based on the 1964 Jacques Remy film – it unfortunately closed early due to ‘economic reasons’, despite a positive response from audiences. This didn’t hold him back though, who subsequently secured another Swing position in the Barbican and UK touring production of award-winning musical South Pacific. He was also the assistant dance captain, staying with the show through to 2012. He then moved on to his current role in Spamalot at the Playhouse Theatre. Jenkins performs as part of the ensemble, understudying the principal roles of ‘Galahad/Bedevere/Lancelot’ in a top-rate cast which features Stephen Tompkinson, Anna-Jane Casey, Michael Burgen and Jon Robyns.
Chris Jenkins has put together an impressive list of theatre credits in the three years since he completed his training at the Guildford School of Acting. He’s played opposite some high profile names, travelled around the UK in acclaimed musical productions and performed to audiences on a West End stage – that’s something to be proud of. An immensely promising talent, this is one name people would do well to remember: I have a feeling we’ll be hearing it often in the years to come.
By Julie Robinson (@missjulie25)
You can follow Chris on twitter: (@chrisjenko).
Saturday 2nd February 2013