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In Profile with Ross Hunter

We Will Rock You, Legally Blonde, Rock of Ages and The Book of Mormon are four very different musicals which have one thing in common: Ross Hunter. This talented stage performer has appeared in each of these shows in the West End, and through them, has shown himself to be one of the UK theatre industry’s most valuable assets. His distinctive voice has helped him gain a huge fan following over the years, and still at a relatively early stage of his career, he is carving out a path that’s leading him straight to the top. A future West End leading man for sure, Ross Hunter is a name that wholeheartedly belongs in the ranks of In Profile.

Ross Hunter trained at the Arts Educational School, London, which has also seen such names as Oliver Tompsett, Samantha Barks, Nigel Harman, Bonnie Langford and the Strallen sisters pass through its doors on their way to the spotlight of the West End stage. He graduated from ArtsEd with a BA Hons in Musical Theatre and was soon adding his first professional stage credits to the CV. He was involved in Chess in Concert at the Royal Albert Hall and played the role of Daniel in the showcase of Today is My Day at the Delfont Room, in addition to performing as a lead singer in the parody show Jest End at the Leicester Square Theatre.

It wasn’t long before he was called up to the ‘big leagues’ to make his first appearance in a West End musical, joining the 2009/10 cast of We Will Rock You at the Dominion Theatre. He performed in the Queen musical as a member of the ensemble team and also understudied the lead role of Galileo, originally as 2nd Cover and then moving up to 1st Cover in his second year with the show. He played the role on many occasions and received much praise for his portrayal of the ‘Prophesised One’, winning over the fans with his powerful vocal ability. There may have been only one Freddie Mercury, but many Galileos over the years have certainly done him proud and Ross Hunter is certainly included on that list.

He was still a member of the company when the musical won the Audience Award for Most Popular Show at the 2011 Laurence Olivier Awards, but departed in the October cast change later that same year. Two days after his final performance in We Will Rock You, he played his first performance in another West End musical: Legally Blonde. The show had been running at the Savoy Theatre since 2009, and the latest cast starred Carley Stenson, Stephen Ashfield, Ben Freeman, Natalie Casey and Peter Davison in the principal line-up, with Hunter in the ensemble role of Lyle. He also understudied the role of UPS Guy and was 1st Cover Warner Huntington III, once again being warmly welcomed by the audience in his performances as a leading man.

After leaving Legally Blonde in April 2012, he appeared in the My Fair Lady Prom at the Royal Albert Hall before taking on his third West End show. This time was different however, as he was no longer covering one of the principal actors, but a principal actor himself. He joined Rock of Ages in the lead male role of Drew, first at the Shaftesbury Theatre and then at the Garrick when the show moved venues to continue its West End run. Having only played the leading man as an understudy until now, he was finally the star of the show as the full-time leading man, something his fans had been waiting for years to see. He was playing a very vocally demanding role, but with the voice and talent to live up to it, his first run as a West End leading man was a critically acclaimed success and he stayed with the show until its closure on 2nd November 2013.

His other theatre credits include Buttons in Cinderella (Wyvern Theatre), the title role in Robin Hood (Cambridge Arts Theatre), and the workshop of Charlie and The Chocolate Factory.

He can additionally be heard as a guest artist on the albums of many new musical theatre writers, lending his extraordinary voice to the songs of such composers/lyricists as Michael Bruse, Gareth Peter Dicks and Richard Beadle. He also recorded the song ‘The Morning After You Do It’ on the debut album of Dougal Irvine, Acoustic Overtures: The Songs of Dougal Irvine, ‘You Dare’ on Tim Prottey Jones’ Surrounded By The Sounds, and duetted with Mark Evans on ‘Sin That I Am In’, which features on Chris Passey’s debut album, Self Taught, Still Learning: The Songs of Chris Passey. He also sung on the album of composer Joe Sterling, Somewhere In My Mind. He performs the song ‘Sophie’s Choice,’ and I was actually in attendance at the recording studio the day he came in to lay down his vocals. Seeing him perform on a West End stage is one thing, but to hear such a unique voice in a far more intimate setting is an altogether different, and unforgettable, experience.

He was also one of the cast of the EP recording for Stand Tall – A Rock Musical, an anti-bullying musical which ran at the Landor Theatre, and played Shane on the studio cast recording of the concept album, The Confession Room.

He can currently be found at the Prince of Wales Theatre where he is performing in the smash-hit musical, The Book of Mormon. He has an ensemble role in the show, but is 1st Cover Elder Price and has gone on in the role many times, naturally to great acclaim.

At such a young age, he has already made quite a name for himself. With a long list of work credits under his belt that includes four of the biggest West End musicals, he is obviously doing something right. He’s already had a taste of West End stardom with one leading role, and if he continues the way he’s been going, then Ross Hunter will one day be standing front and centre as a West End leading man.

By Julie Robinson: @missjulie25

Saturday 22nd August 2015