The talent that exists within the UK theatre industry isn’t limited to the West End alone; we are fortunate enough to have a vast number of highly skilled musical theatre actors performing on stages all around the country, entertaining audiences in regional shows and touring productions. One such talented musical theatre performer who is currently on tour is Tim Driesen, who first attracted the attention of In Profile when he was in the ensemble of Rock of Ages. These articles came about as a way of shining a spotlight on rising stars performing in the ensemble of West End shows, and Driesen is certainly a star on the rise as he is now starring in the lead role of Frankie Valli in the UK and Ireland Tour of Jersey Boys, making him the perfect In Profile ‘poster boy’.
Driesen, who originates from Herentals in Belgium, is a natural talent who was born to be a performer. He tells stories of a childhood spent putting on shows in the back garden, and from a young age, knew that performing was he wanted to do with his life. He chased that dream all the way to the UK after being accepted into Laine Theatre Arts, the independent performing arts school which has also produced such stage stars as Liam Tamne, Kerry Ellis, Mark Evans, Louise Dearman and the Strallen sisters. He spent three years training for a career in the industry and graduated from Laine’s with an Honours Diploma in Musical Theatre in 1999.
His first professional job post-graduation was in Bill Kenwright’s UK Tour of the compilation show, Thank You For The Music, in which he played both Donny Osmond and David Cassidy. He remained on the road after that when he was cast in another Kenwright touring production, this time starring in the lead male role of Joseph in the 2000 UK Tour of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.
He returned to London following that and took on a variety of theatre projects in those next few years, including playing the title role in a workshop production of Dorian (Tristan Banks Theatre). He made his official West End début at the Prince Edward Theatre, performing in the smash hit musical, Mamma Mia!, which is based on the music of ABBA. He joined as a member of the ensemble team and was also understudy to the roles of Father Alex and Eddie in the show. His second West End appearance came in Batboy The Musical at the Shaftesbury Theatre, once again performing in the ensemble and also covering the roles of Rick/Pan, in addition to the title role of Bat Boy.
The road beckoned again after that, taking him much further on this occasion though as he travelled internationally as part of the European Tour of The Rocky Horror Show. He played the role of Phantom in the production and also covered the leading roles of Riff Raff and Rocky during his run in the show. He was back on the road the following year, this time in the company of the UK tour of Starlight Express playing Nintendo and as 1st cover Rusty/Caboose/Flat top.
He next appeared in Richard O’Brien’s Mephistopheles Smith, playing the title role in Janus Theatre Company’s re-worked production at the Brighton Fringe Festival.
Another first came for Driesen then as he was offered the chance to originate a role in a brand new, original show. He created the role of Adrian Banks in the Take That musical, Never Forget, which is the character based on TT band member Mark Owen. He was involved in both UK tours and then reprised his role in the show when it transferred to the West End, performing alongside Dean Chisnall, Craige Els and Stephane Anelli at the Savoy Theatre.
So what was next for Driesen? After playing Darren in the Perfect Pitch workshop of Rebels and Retail (Trafalgar Studios), he joined the West End cast of 2009 musical Jet Set Go! as Paul (Jermyn Street Theatre) and was also involved in a charity gala performance of Rent, playing ‘Mark Cohen’. He then packed those bags again and set off with the Asian touring production of Notre Dame de Paris as the alternate Phoebus/Gringoire, a performance which resulted in him being named ‘Best Actor in a Musical’ in the VMP Flemish music awards, before taking on the lead role of Galileo in a Belgian production of Queen musical, We Will Rock You.
Upon his return to the UK, Driesen appeared as the Young Ken Barlow in the new, but ultimately short-lived, Coronation Street musical, Street of Dreams (MEN Arena, Manchester). He then starred alongside Louise Dearman (Tinkerbell), Gerard Carey (Captain Hook) and Lucy Sinclair (Wendy) in the title role of a new comedy workshop of JM Barrie’s Peter Pan.
He returned to the West End stage as part of the London production of Rock of Ages, which transferred from Broadway into the Shaftesbury Theatre. During his time in the show, he played the ensemble roles of Joey Primo/Sleazy Producer and also covered the roles of Stacee Jaxx and Franz, in addition to being Alternate Drew.
In addition to his on-stage work, Driesen also composes and has written the full-length stage musical, Super Alice Smith, a contemporary musical comedy which was showcased at Trafalgar Studios in 2009. He is currently writing a new ‘two-hander’ show called Rebound, but also found time to release his début solo album. In My Corner features four original songs that he wrote, as well as three covers of classic songs, including Billy Joel’s ‘Uptown Girl’, and a medley of the Frankie Valli songs, ‘My Eyes Adored You’/’Fallen Angel’. He also co-wrote the charity song, ‘West End Onesie Club’.
He is out of the ranks of the ensemble and firmly in the spotlight now as one of the stars of Jersey Boys. Before joining the touring production, he played the lead role of Frankie Valli at the Beatrix Theatre in Utrecht, Holland and had a short stint in the West End production of the show. He is currently standing front and centre of the UK and Ireland Tour of Jersey Boys, giving a critically acclaimed performance as Frankie Valli, lead singer of the popular American 60’s pop/rock band The Four Seasons.
He decided on this career path when he saw The Phantom of the Opera in Holland for the first time when he was just a boy. Since then, he has propelled himself through the ranks and accrued a long list of impressive theatre credits, as well as a nice following of fans along the way. His final performance in Jersey Boys is on Saturday 15th August 2015, and after that, who knows what’s next for him. There are still stage roles he’s spoken of wishing to play one day, and the prospect of becoming a successful recording artist is a continuing dream of his. Tim Driesen is fantastic talent who has already proven himself as a leading man, and no matter where the next adventure takes him, there are plenty of people who will follow him wherever he goes.
You can follow Tim on Twitter: @TimDriesen
By Julie Robinson (@missjulie25)
Saturday 23rd May 2015