Jukebox musicals can often divide opinion, but there is no denying that the West End production of We Will Rock You is one of the most popular and successful shows in town. The musical, based on the hit songs of classic band Queen, has been playing at the Dominion Theatre since May 2002; nearly twelve years on, and it is still enjoying a huge audience demand. I went to see it when Ricardo Afonso and Sabrina Aloueche were leading in the principal roles of Galileo and Scaramouche, and by the end of the night my group and I, along with the rest of the audience, were up on our feet waving glow sticks and singing along to ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’. Critics panned the production when it first opened, with Ben Elton’s book receiving most of the criticism, but it’s a show that any Queen fan can’t fail to love and the award-winning musical, which won the Audience Award for Most Popular Show at the 2011 Olivier Awards, has proven the critics wrong over time.
The current company is led by Oliver Tompsett as Galileo and Rachel Wooding as Scaramouche, with Brenda Edwards still playing the antagonist of the piece, the Killer Queen. In addition to its principal actors, the show also boasts an impressive supporting cast which include Adam Bracegirdle, who is the featured ensemble member for this week’s edition of In Profile.
Adam Bracegirdle is a talented up-and-coming stage performer who already has a number of high quality theatrical credits under his belt. His road to the West End began at the Bradford Dance and Theatre Arts Centre, the West Yorkshire-based performing arts school where he trained under founder and principal Stephanie Clements. He then travelled south to Epsom, Surrey to continue his training following acceptance to one of the UK’s leading drama institutions, Laine Theatre Arts. He graduated from the school with a National Diploma in Musical Theatre, joining the list of previous Laine alumni such as Summer Strallen, Kerry Ellis and Mark Evans, all of whom went on to become notable names in the West End.
Since completing his training at Laine Theatre Arts, he has worked steadily and appeared in numerous West End and touring musical productions. His West End debut came courtesy of the original London production of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, which opened at the London Palladium in April 2002. Bracegirdle joined the cast in 2004, stepping onto the stage of one of the West End’s most renowned theatres for his first outing. He appeared alongside the likes of Gary Wilmot (Caractacus Potts) and Lionel Blair (The Child Catcher) during his time as a member of the ensemble, and when the production closed at the Palladium after a record three and a half year run, he continued to be a part of the show in the subsequent UK Tour and in Singapore.
He returned to the West End in 2008 in the original London cast for the stage adaption of popular American musical film High School Musical. The show, which ran alongside a separate touring production at the same time, opened at the Hammersmith Apollo in July for a special 10-week summer season. The show starred Mark Evans as popular basketball star Troy Bolton and Claire-Marie Hall as academically-gifted newcomer Gabriella Montez, as well as a special celebrity casting in the form of actress Letitia Dean (Eastenders). Bracegirdle was involved in an ensemble-based capacity again, but was also understudy to the principal role of Ryan Evans and played the role onstage on a number of occasions. He also travelled around the UK in the touring production of the film sequel High School Musical 2, which was launched at the New Wimbledon Theatre in London in August 2009. He once again understudied/played Ryan Evans in his ensemble role, appearing opposite Liam Doyle (Troy), Nikki Mae (Gabriella) and also comedian and actor Les Dennis as Mr Fulton. Originally intended to tour until May 2010, the production ultimately closed three months early.
Bracegirdle put away his travelling shoes after that and placed himself back into the welcoming arms of the West End with another big-name musical. He joined the original cast of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Wizard of Oz revival, which starred the then-unknown Danielle Hope who had won the role of Dorothy through the BBC1 talent competition Over The Rainbow. He returned home to the familiar stage of the London Palladium as a member of the ensemble, appearing alongside the likes of Emily Tierney (Glinda), Michael Crawford (The Wizard of Oz) and Hannah Waddingham (Wicked Witch of the West) when the show opened in 2011.
His other theatre credits also include playing Nick Piazzo in the Irish Tour of Fame, panto stints in Aladdin (New Theatre, Woking), Peter Pan (Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton), Robin Hood (New Theatre, Hull) and Pinocchio (Eden Court Theatre, Inverness), and performing aboard the celebrity cruises M/V Mercury ship along the coast of America and Mexico.
Still a part of the West End theatre scene, he is now appearing in the ensemble cast of We Will Rock You at the Dominion Theatre.
Adam Bracegirdle is a young performer with a lot of potential for the future. Already with a wealth of West End stage experience to his name, he is building up a solid list of theatre credits to match the solid reputation he is building as an actor. I suspect the West End has a lot more in store for him when his time with WWRY comes to an end.
By Julie Robinson (@missjulie25)
Content updated 1st May 2014