It was announced this week that the touring production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats is returning to the West End later this year, although before fans get too excited, it’s for a strictly limited period only. The musical will be dropping by the London Palladium from December 2014 for a 12-week run over the Christmas season. Casting and further details about the show’s West End stop-off are expected to be revealed on 7th July when tickets go on sale, but it’s already been said that some changes may be made to update the production/characters.
Having seen the show just this week at the Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury though, I have to say that the UK/European tour of Cats has an incredibly strong cast at the moment and West End audiences would be lucky to have this current company performing on the stage of the Palladium. It was my birthday the day I went to see Cats, one which I coincidentally share with a cast member of the show, Ryan Gover. The talented swing, who was on stage that night, is a promising talent, and as such, has been selected as the featured ensemble member for this week’s edition of In Profile.
Ryan Gover has worked in several big-name West End musicals since completing his training and entering the profession and is quickly proving himself to be one to watch. The Dorset boy, who grew up in the south coastal town of Poole, moved to London after being accepted at The Arts Educational Schools where he spent the next three years honing his talent and learning the skills needed to pursue a career on the stage. ArtsEd is one of the most well-known and respected performing arts institutions in the UK and has produced many West End stars over the years, such as Samantha Barks, Oliver Tompsett, Sarah Brightman, Danielle Hope, and not to mention Ryan’s current Cats co-star Zizi Strallen, along with her equally talented sisters Summer and Scarlett. He appeared in a number of productions during his time with ArtsEd, including a role in the show he would return to 4 years later, Cats. He played Skimbleshanks in the ArtsEd production, which was directed by Chrissie Cartwright and Gillian Lyne. He also played the title role in Nicholas Nickleby, Bobby in Side by Side by Sondheim, Mayor Shinn in The Music Man, Guron in Princess Ida and was Abraham/Friar John in the world premiere of Romeo & Juliet: The Rock Opera, as well as being in the ensemble and dance captain for a production of My Favourite Year which was choreographed by the award-winning Andrew Wright. He graduated from the school in 2010 with a BA (Hons) in Musical Theatre.
His first professional role after leaving ArtsEd also marked his West End debut as he headed straight for one of London’s most prestigious theatre, the London Palladium. He was cast in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s revival of The Wizard of Oz which returned to the West End after being the focal point of the BBC’s Over The Rainbow, the TV talent competition that searched for an unknown star to take on the lead role of Dorothy in the new production. The contest was won, of course, by Danielle Hope, who was mentioned earlier as a fellow ArtsEd alumni. Ryan was in the ensemble team of the original London cast, but also appeared alongside the show’s star on occasion as the understudy for the role of the Tin Man/Hickory.
He stayed with The Wizard of Oz for a year before moving on to other projects. The first was an ensemble role in a production of Stephen Sondheim’s Gypsy, the musical based on the life of the famous 1920’s American burlesque strip artiste Gypsy Lee Rose. It had a four-week run at the Curve Theatre, Leicester in 2012 and featured the likes of Victoria Hamilton-Barritt, Lucinda Shaw, David Fleeshman and Daisy Maywood. He then came back to London to appear at the Southwark Playhouse in a revised production of the musical Mack and Mabel, playing the role of Charlie and also as dance captain. Norman Bowman and Laura Pitt-Pulford starred in the title roles, with such names as Stuart Matthew Price, Jessica Buckby, Steven Serlin and Jessica Martin also featured in the cast of the show which ran between July and August.
Unwilling to let him go, the West End called him to the stage again as he was cast in the hit Queen musical We Will Rock You at the Dominion Theatre. As part of the show’s ensemble, he performed alongside such principal cast members as Oliver Tompsett (Galileo), Rachel Wooding (Scaramouche), Kevin Kennedy (Pop), Brenda Edwards (Killer Queen)and Alasdair Harvey (Khashoggi). The long-running musical, which first opened at the Dominion Theatre in 2002, closed its doors for good this year, and as a member of that last cast, Ryan was there when it played its final performance on 31st May 2014.
Most recently, he was a swing and dance captain in Irving Berlin’s White Christmas at the Festival Theatre in Edinburgh. His other theatre credits include being a featured dancer in The Night of 1000 Voices (Royal Albert Hall) and a featured singer in Christmas in New York (Lyric Theatre).
In addition to performing onstage, he is also a freelance Dance Teacher and has led many classes and workshops. He has taught at such places as the London College of Music, Stagecoach Theatre Arts and the London Studio Centre, and is one of the four team members for West End In?, a musical theatre summer school for kids founded by Michael Park.. He is one of the four West End performers who run workshops for the young students at the school, along with Ingrid MacKinnon, Kerry Winter and Michael Kent.
Ryan Gover joined the UK/European tour of Cats in early 2014 as dance captain and a swing in the show. He recently had a dress rehearsal for Mukustrap and has already played the roles of Alonzo, Carbucketty and Coricopat onstage. He and the rest of the cast play their last performance at the Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury tonight (28th June) and then move on to Newcastle’s Theatre Royal for July. Before arriving in the West End, the tour will be visiting venues in Plymouth, Cardiff, Bournemouth, Torquay and Birmingham, so theatre fans in the vicinity should make the most of the opportunity to see this timeless musical and its fantastic cast. Any audiences who get to see Ryan in one of the main roles are in for a treat as this highly talented ‘triple-threat’ performer is a joy to watch and has what it takes to become a star of the West End stage.
You can follow Ryan on Twitter: @Ryan_Gover
By Julie Robinson: @missjulie25
Saturday 28th June 2014