After 12 years in the West End, ‘another one bites the dust’ as it was announced last week that the Queen musical We Will Rock You is set to close on 31st May 2014. The popular jukebox musical holds the record at the Dominion Theatre for the longest-running production, having played there since May 2002, but even though the show survived the initial condemnation of the critics’ reviews and won the love of the theatre-going public, its impressive run is now approaching the end.
The show has seen some of the best of the pass through during the course of that 12-year run, including such talented names as MiG Ayesa, Rachel Tucker, Sharon D. Clarke, Kerry Ellis, Ricardo Afonzo, Lauren Samuels, Mazz Murray, Alex Gaumond and Sabrina Aloueche. The current cast is led by Oliver Thompsett as Galileo and Rachael Wooding as Scaramouche, alongside such fellow principal performers Brenda Edwards (Killer Queen) and Alistair Harvey (Khashhoggi) and a top notch ensemble team, including the 7 swings who work on WWRY. Covering so many roles makes being a swing one of the hardest jobs around, but one man who has risen to the challenge is Andrew Simeon, who features in this week’s edition of In Profile.
WWRY cast member Andrew Simeon has been working in the industry for a decade now and has amassed quite the collection of theatre credits in that time. The Welsh actor, who was born and bred in Swansea, had dreamed of a career on the stage since he was 8-years old and fed that hunger by taking part in as many amateur dramatic productions as possible throughout his childhood. He continued the pursuit of his dream by enrolling on a 3-year performing arts course at Gorseinon College, South Wales. He was awarded a full scholarship to the Bird College of Dance and Musical Theatre when he was 18 and moved to London to continue his training at the well-known school which names the likes of Gavin Lee, Lara Pulver, John Partridge and Melanie Chisholm among its former students. Whilst studying there, he was a member of the Bird Theatre Company which afforded him the opportunity to tour extensively through Europe, including performing as a featured soloist in a Rodgers and Hart revue in Austria.
He graduated from Bird College in 2003 and got his first professional job with CMC Theatre Company, who offered him a 6-month contract performing various musical theatre revues on the cruise ship MV Aurora. Upon his return to London, he became involved in a workshop for new musical Revelation at the Greenwich Theatre in which he played the role of Young Man. After that he embarked on another touring experience, this time on dry land though, as he joined the UK Tour of All That Jazz as a vocalist and dancer. He then appeared in the West End for the first time as part of the panto company of Snow White at the Victoria Palace Theatre, performing alongside celebrity guest star Paul O’Grady as a member of the ensemble and also covering the role of Catsmeat.
He was then cast in an international production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical Starlight Express travelling to Bochum, Germany to play the roles of Rusty, Electra, Caboose, Flat Top, Purse and Krupp in a show which was particular special to him as it was the first West End musical he ever saw. Following his time in Germany, he travelled around the UK in the UK Tour of South Pacific, playing Marine Richard West and then took the leading role of Billy in the stage show of Toby Mitchell’s children’s story The Snow Dragon, which ran at Waterman’s Theatre, Brentford throughout December 2008.
Simeon moved on to another touring production after that, making his first appearance in a show which has since formed a big part of his life on the stage. He joined the 2009 UK Tour of We Will Rock You as a swing, performing alongside a star cast. He remained as a swing when he left the road behind to join the West End cast of We Will Rock You at the Dominion Theatre.
Other performances include Jest End (Leicester Square Theatre) West End Bares 2011 (Café de Paris) and The Boys in the Band play, as well as numerous choreography/assisting and artistic direction credits for various workshops (Blockbuster), cabarets and concerts (Rock Raiser cabaret, big band annual concert). He also helped bring to life the popular series The West End at Christmas, which first premiered in 2012 and went on to launch a mini-tour. It was back in 2013, with fellow performers Richard Woodford, Helen Evans and Jessica Pendall, to give audiences another night of Christmas classics alongside musical theatre favourites with some personal stories of the shows they’ve worked in and people they’ve worked with. He has also choreographed and taught in in various West End workshops and theatre schools in South Wales, England and Europe.
He returned to the West End production of We Will Rock You in October 2013 as a swing once again, covering all 12 male roles (not including the 3 leading roles) in the show in either 1st, 2nd or 3rd cover capacity. He will now be part of the last ever company of We Will Rock You at the Dominion Theatre. This talented and versatile performer has proven himself a valuable addition to any show and while WWRY is soon to disappear from the West End, I expect the same will not be true of Andrew Simeon.
You can follow Andrew on Twitter @AndrewSimeonASL
By Julie Robinson (@missjulie25)
Saturday 22nd March 2014