London is filled with hopeful young actors dreaming of making it as a leading man or lady on the West End stage, but so much competition inevitably means that many talented performers will instead find their career defined by a series of supporting and understudy roles. Sometimes though, a performer instantly stands out as a star-in-the-making with a future place front and centre on stage almost a guarantee. Samuel Edwards is surely one such performer, and is featured here in the spotlight of In Profile.
Samuel Edwards is a promising young talent who has burst on to the West End theatre scene with great aplomb and a seemingly unlimited potential. He got his start at one of the UK’s leading performing arts schools, training at the Chiswick-based institution of the Arts Educational Schools, London (ArtsEd). The college has seen a great number of star entertainers for both the stage and screen pass through its doors over the years, with the likes of Julie Andrews, Samantha Barks, Nigel Harman, Oliver Thompsett, Bonnie Langford, Dean Chisnall, Sarah Brightman and Will Young all included on the prestigious list of ArtsEd alumni.
His ArtsEd training credits include playing Ronnie Driscoll in Curtains, Ren McCormack in Footloose, Billy in Carousel and Anthony in Sweeney Todd, as well as performing as a featured singer in several shows.
He graduated early from the college to join the original London cast of Ghost The Musical, making his West End debut in his first professional stage role. The musical, adapted from the Academy Award-winning 1990 film of the same name, made its world premiere at the Manchester Opera house in March 2011 and transferred to the Piccadilly Theatre in the summer of that same year. Edwards appeared in the show’s ensemble alongside principal actors Richard Fleeshman, Caissie Levy, Sharon D. Clarke and Andrew Langtree, and features on the original cast recording. He was also 1st Cover for Fleeshman’s leading man role of Sam Wheat and played the role onstage many times, to great acclaim.
He spent just over a year in Ghost, playing his final performance on 1st September 2012. For his second professional stage role, he went from appearing in one of the biggest new musicals in the West End to appearing in the longest-running musical in the West End. He joined the London company of Les Miserables at the Queen’s Theatre in January 2013, performing in the ensemble role of Feuilly. As 1st Cover Enjolras, he also featured in the principal line-up on occasion opposite the likes of Geronimo Rauch (Valjean), Tam Mutu (Javert) and Jamie Ward (Marius).
He left the show in the June 2013 cast change and spent the remainder of the summer in the Open Air Theatre’s revival of The Sound of Music at the Regent’s Park venue. He appeared as a member of the ensemble in addition to understudying the role of Rolf, the love interest of the eldest von Trapp child, Liesl. Starring Charlotte Wakefield as Maria and Michael Xavier as Captain von Trapp, the production received rave reviews and calls for a West End transfer.
The Sound of Music didn’t make it back to the West End, but Edwards did. He returned for his third appearance in a West End musical, this time as a member of the 2013/14 cast of Wicked at the Apollo Victoria. He performed as part of the ensemble team alongside stars Willemijn Verkaik and Savannah Stevenson as Elphaba and Glinda, and as understudy to the role of Fiyero, also played opposite them on numerous occasions.
His other theatre credits include Robin Hood at the Theatre Royal, Norwich and Broadway To West End at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane.
He was most recently seen in the UK premiere of Tony Award-nominated Broadway musical Xanadu at the Southwark Playhouse, where he played the lead role of Sonny and was required to spend most of the performance on roller skates. The show ran from 2nd to 21st November 2015 and was well received by critics, as well as helping to cement his status as a rising star of the stage.
Samuel Edwards has achieved more than most so early in his professional stage career. Four years after graduating from ArtsEd, he has three West End shows, a starring role in a major UK tour and a hit London musical under his belt, and is fast establishing himself as ‘one to watch’. This handsome young actor is bursting with star quality, and surely a West End leading-man-in-the-making.
You can follow Samuel on twitter: @Sam_Edwards1
By Julie Robinson: @missjulie25
Saturday 5th December 2015