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In Profile with Wayne Fitzsimmons

Wayne Fitzsimmons originally hails from the northern town of Maypole in Birmingham, which is where his journey to the stage began. He first found himself considering a career in acting when he took part in the Baverstock School production of The Sound of Music. Firmly bit by the acting bug, he went on to become involved with Birmingham’s ‘busiest and biggest’ youth theatre group, Stage2, which was then located at non-profit creative arts centre the MAC. His passion for the profession then took him southwards after he was accepted into the renowned Arts Educational Schools, London. His training credits whilst there include Ko-Ko in Hot Mikado and Pooch Kearney in Good News. He graduated from ArtsED in 2004 with a 1st BA (Hons) in Musical Theatre, and in the nine years since, has worked his way up through the industry to become a fantastically well-rounded performer with a long list of theatre credits to his name.

One of his earliest professional roles brought him to the Piccadilly Theatre to perform in front of a West End audience, a feat that can take some performers years to achieve. He was cast as a swing in the Donmar Warehouse production of Guys and Dolls, which starred the late Patrick Swayze.

Four months after leaving the show, he was back in the West End with the original London cast of the epic musical adaption of The Lord of the Rings, which opened at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane on 19th June 2007 (previews from 9th May). He originated the ensemble role of Haldir in the West End production, as part of a huge cast that starred James Loye (Frodo), Malcolm Storry (Gandalf), Jerome Pradon (Strider/Aragorn), Rosalie Craig (Arwen) and Michael Therriault (Gollum/Smeagol), to name a few. In addition to his ensemble duties, he also covered the principal role of Legolas.

He left LOTR in June 2008, along with many of his fellow original cast members whose contracts didn’t extend into the show’s final month. He was next seen performing at the London Coliseum in the ensemble of the ENO’s Candide, before heading to the Cambridge Theatre to join the West End production of Chicago. His ensemble roles in the musical included Doctor, Jury and Martin Harrison, and he was also 1st Cover Billy Flynn in the production opposite Ruthie Henshall as Roxie Hart.

He left in April 2010 after nearly two years in the show, next travelling to Japan with Theatre du Chatelet’s production of Candide. He then returned to Chicago, but not the West End – he was ensemble and 1st Cover Billy in the show in Istanbul.

He came back to the UK to play Larry in A Chorus Line at the Lowry Theatre in Manchester, before seeing the year out in the Birmingham Hippodrome panto for the 2010/11 Christmas season, Dick Whittington.

He was involved in the 25th Anniversary production of The Phantom of the Opera at the Royal Albert Hall in 2011, appearing on-stage as Carlotta’s Wig Assistant, and also played the role of Fred McCracken (Wacky) in Annie at the West Yorkshire Playhouse.  He later joined the cast of the Coronation Street musical, Street of Dreams, which featured an assortment of West End stars such as Jodie Prenger, Mark Willshire, Rachel Wooding and Tim Driesen alongside a selection of popular Corrie actors that included Kevin Kennedy (Curly Watts) and Julie Goodyear (Bet Lynch). He was cast in the ensemble and also as understudy to the role of Richard Hillman. The musical was shelved after just two performances however.

He spent 2013 travelling around the country in the UK tour of Priscilla: Queen of the Desert. He appeared as a member of the ensemble and was also responsible for covering the principal roles of Bernadette and Tick, playing both on stage on numerous occasions. He was fortunate to be able to go on for Tick in his home town when the show played at the New Alexandra Theatre in March 2013. Speaking to local publication The Birmingham Mail ahead of that performance, he said that a starring role in a major production was something which every actor aspires to, and that to be able to do so in his home city made the experience, “even more special.”

After the Priscilla UK tour came to an end, he continued on the road with the UK tour of Copacabana. He was then seen performing in Nikolai Foster’s all-new touring production of Calamity Jane, which starred Jodie Prenger in the title role alongside Tom Lister, Alex Hammond and Sophia Ragavelas – he appeared as Joe/Stage Door Keeper/Dancer. The national tour of Calamity Jane closed at the Richmond Theatre on 8th August 2015.

He most recently appeared in a musical adaption of Dale Wasserman’s award-winning play One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest at the Lost Theatre on 16th and 17th September 2015. The production featured music and lyrics by Chris Turner and was directed by Steve Elias. He played the role of Martini in a cast which also included Dawn Buckland, Benjamin Victor, Matthew Woodyatt, Mykal Rand, Guy Mott, Holly Sayer, Peter Kenworthy and Joseph Prouse.

His other theatre credits include: King Rat in Dick Whittington, Policeman/Ensemble in Angel, Terry in Boogie Nights (UK Tour), Fleshcreep in Jack and the Beanstalk (Grand Opera House, Belfast), Ensemble and U/S Roger in Grease (UK & European Tour), Dance Captain in Dick Whittington (Birmingham Hippodrome – he covered the role of Queen Rat when Joan Collins fell ill), Puppeteer in Charlie and The Chocolate Factory (Workshop), Vatti/Policeman/Vet/Doctor in Angus, Thongs and Even More Snogging (Rehearsed Reading at West Yorkshire Playhouse), Dancer in Yeoman of the Guard (BBC Proms at Royal Albert Hall), Assistant Choreographer/Dance Captain in Dick Whittington (Hackney Empire) and Ugly Sister in Cinderella (Glasgow SECC). He has also taken part in several productions of the musical satire show, Jest End.

Wayne Fitzsimmons is a talented performer who has made a very welcome addition to the UK theatre industry. He lights up every stage he steps onto, and West End audiences can only hope to see him back here someday very soon.

You can follow Wayne on twitter: @ShowBizWayne

By Julie Robinson: @missjulie25

Saturday 21st November 2015

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