The London production of Les Miserables celebrated a record-breaking anniversary this week, with 8th October 2014 marking 29 years in the West End for the beloved musical. The show has occupied several theatres in that time, and acknowledged the milestone moment in its current home at the Queen’s Theatre, where it has resided since transferring from the Palace Theatre ten years ago. Les Miserables is the longest-running musical in the West End and anyone who has seen the show will understand how it has managed to remain in the hearts of the fans for so long; it’s one of those rare instances in which every aspect of a show comes together completely in sync, creating musical theatre perfection. Many stage stars have climbed the barricades since the likes of Colm Wilkinson, Frances Ruffelle, Michael Ball and Rebecca Caine first introduced audiences to those iconic characters as part of the original 1985 company, and many more unknowns have gone on to become established names after appearing in the musical. Amongst the current Les Mis ensemble could be a star of tomorrow and one who certainly holds promise is the very talented Dougie Carter, which is why he is this week’s featured ensemble member for In Profile.
Dougie Carter has only been working professionally in the theatre industry for a few years, but he is already in the process of making a name for himself – he even has a twitter fan page (@dougiecfans)! This bright young actor trained at Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts, the prestigious performing arts school based in North London of which Dame Judi Dench is president. Mountview has sent such stage stars as Julie Atherton, Jon Robyns, Leanne Jones and Oliver Thornton out into the world, as well as many more successful individuals in other areas of the entertainment industry, and Carter is well on his way to becoming another of the school’s notable alumni. He appeared in numerous productions while in attendance at Mountview, such as RENT (Benny), Brontë (Branwell Brontë/Heathcliffe/Arthur Huntingdon), Parade (Detective J N Starnes), Spring Awakening (Georg), By the Bog of Cats (Carthage), Anything Goes (Billy) and Measure for Measure (Claudio), and after three years there, he graduated in 2011 with a BA Hons in Musical Theatre.
He didn’t waste any time, quickly securing himself a place on a UK Tour. It wasn’t just any role however, but the lead role: he was cast as Mowgli in Oxfordshire Theatre Company’s new and updated touring production of The Jungle Book. Carter received much praise in what was his first professional role, setting him in good stead for the roles still to come.
He followed up his time on the road with The Jungle Book by taking part in a workshop performance of a new musical. Tamar Broadbent’s musical comedy Pierced, a coming-of-age story which follows the lives of five teenagers in the summer after leaving school, was staged at the Landor Theatre in London on 16th April 2012, directed by Drew Baker (Children of Eden). He gave an acclaimed performance in the role of Ashley, an outrageously gay character who auditions for The X Factor, gaining the adoration of the audience and critics alike with his winning mix of talent and perfectly-placed comic timing. Even the actor who originated the role in the show’s première performance in Bristol the previous year stated that Carter had ‘outdone’ him in his interpretation of Ashley.
That same year, he was in the ensemble of a concert performance of Our House to mark the musical’s 10th anniversary. The anniversary concert starred Madness front man Suggs and was directed by the Olivier Award-winning show’s original director, Matthew Warchus. He also made a small appearance on ITV’s A Mother’s Son.
In 2013, he first took on a variety of roles in Nick Darke’s adaption of the Laurie Lee novel, Cider With Rosie, at the Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham. He played Jack/Fred/Curate in the production, which starred stage and screen actress Susie Blake, known for playing Madame Morrible in the West End production of Wicked and for her TV appearances in Coronation Street and Mrs Brown’s Boys.
It was in June 2013 that he joined one of the biggest shows in the history of musical theatre and simultaneously made his West End. He was cast in the West End production of Les Miserables, performing with the ensemble team and appearing onstage in the role of Joly. He was also 2nd Cover to the leading role of Marius, and was later made a Swing, which requires him to cover a wide variety of male roles in the show. He has been a member of the company at the Queen’s Theatre for just over a year now, and been involved in such Les Mis extra-curricular activities as the now-annual Les Mis V Phantom charity football tournament. He took part in the 2014 match event at Bromley F.C. on 3rd August, held in aid of Cardiac Risk in the Young, Ellenor Lions Hospices and Macmillan Cancer Support, and raised over £20,000. The event was played in tribute to Les Mis wig mistress Melanie Oakley-Dow, who lost her battle with cancer last year.
Still very much a part of the West End scene in Les Miserables, Carter nonetheless took on the challenge of pulling double duty when he was offered a role in a special London performance of new musical, Love Beyond. This spectacular musical, which was first performed at the Brighton Centre in 2013, was staged at the SSE Arena, Wembley in a bigger and better all-new production earlier this month, playing two exclusive performances on 1st and 2nd October 2014. Telling the story of the Bible as never before, Love Beyond featured an impressive line-up of performers from in and out of the West End which included Carter as the First Man, Adam. He starred alongside Natalie Lipin as Eve and fellow Les Mis-er Dave Willetts, who of course, has previously played Valjean in the show.
Dougie Carter has everything working in his favour to become a real force to be reckoned with in the West End. He has already accrued an impressive list of theatre credits and is currently appearing in the musical legend that is Les Miserables. Where he goes from there is anyone’s guess, but the direction is more than clear; this talented performer is moving up and there seems no limit to how high he can rise.
You can follow Dougie on Twitter: @Dougie_Carter
By Julie Robinson: @missjulie25
Saturday 11th October 2014