There are a number of established musicals in the West End which have enjoyed record-breaking runs there thanks to their enduring popularity: Les Miserables, The Phantom of the Opera, The Lion King, Mamma Mia – these are just a few of the long-running musicals which have helped cement the West End’s reputation for high quality theatre. They were all fresh-faced newbies once upon a time though, and there is a new wave of musical theatre now coming into the West End with the potential to become the next ‘big-hitters’. The newly opened Made In Dagenham is one such example. The stage adaption of the 2010 film has taken up residence in the Adelphi Theatre and made its world début this month to great acclaim, setting it in good standing to become one of the success stories of this year.
The positive response to the show can be credited in part to its terrific cast. The original London company, led by British film actress Gemma Arterton, is leaking talent left, right and centre, and is deserving of the praise that has been directed their way. Included amongst them is well-known West End-er Scott Garnham, whose skill as a performer has not only led him to a role in a brand new West End musical, but also secured him a place in the ranks of In Profile.
Yorkshire-born Garnham has had an interest in acting from a very young age. At just seven years old, he began attending Kirkham Henry Performing Arts and performed with a variety of local theatre groups in his youthful years, such as Malton and Norton Theatre Company and Ryedale Youth Theatre. He later gained a National Diploma in Drama from Yorkshire Coast College, Scarborough before going on to train at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, where he graduated with a Masters Degree in Performance. His West End début came soon after, in the Eurovision Song Contest spoof, Eurobeat. Hosted by Les Dennis at the Novello Theatre back in 2008, Eurobeat parodied the famous song contest with a selection of fictional acts from different countries, taking what is already a cheesy and rather camp event to new, sillier depths. Garnham played Irish entrant Ronan Corr in a hilarious performance, completed by the all-white outfit (cowboy hat included) and over-zealous use of dry ice.
His first professional appearance post-graduation though was in Stiles and Drewe’s Honk! The Ugly Duckling (Stephen Joseph Theatre), which was the recipient of an Olivier Award for Best New Musical. He originated the role of Beaky in the show and features on the original cast recording. After Honk!, he toured internationally as part of the Twelve Tenors and then followed that up with several theatrical projects, which included playing Billy in Around The World With Billy Brite (Stephen Joseph Theatre), Jason in Jason and the Argonauts (New Victory Theatre, New York), and Billy in The Rise and Fall of Little Voice (UK Tour).
One of his most memorable roles came after that, with a perma-tanned performance as the Jason Orange character of Jose Reize in the Take That musical, Never Forget. Garnham was involved in the show’s tour of the UK, although did not stay on when it subsequently transferred into the West End.
Never Forget may not have been the show to bring him back to the West End, but another musical did later succeed in doing so. He joined the West End production of Les Miserables in June 2010, playing the role of Feuilly as part of the show’s ensemble and also understudying two of the principal roles: he was 1st Cover Enjolras and 2nd Cover Marius. He enjoyed a number of opportunities to step up and play Enjolras during his time at the Queen’s Theatre and was very well-received by the audience in the role, so much so that he was nominated for and subsequently won the ‘Understudy of the Year’ award through a public vote in the BroadwayWorld: UK Awards 2011.This new category recognised the importance of the understudy and gave Garnham a nice little nod of appreciation for his performance.
During his time with the show, he was also lucky enough to be involved in the 25th Anniversary Concert of Les Miserables at the O2 Arena, sharing the stage with such names as Norm Lewis, Samantha Barks, Ramin Karimloo, Lea Salonga, Matt Lucas and Alfie Boe.
Following his departure from Les Miserables, he joined the West End line-up for a special concert performance of Sondheim’s A Little Night Music. The one-night-only event was staged at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford and starred David Birrell, Janie Dee, Julia Sutton, Joanna Riding, Simon Bailey, Anna O’Byrne, Fra Fee and Laura Pitt-Pulford, with Garnham playing the role of Mr Lindquist in the supporting cast alongside Nadim Naaman, Kimberly Blake, Lisa-Anne Wood, Laura Sillett and Bibi Jay.
He was then cast in the UK première of [title of show] at the Landor Theatre. The Broadway musical made its London début in August 2013 with a four-strong cast that starred Garnham and Simon Bailey as the two friends writing a musical. Garnham played book writer Hunter opposite Bailey as composer Jeff, with Sarah Galbraith (Susan) and Sophia Ragavelas (Heidi) completing the line-up.
He then returned to the West End following the opportunity to be involved in another brand new musical. He was part of the original London cast of I Can’t Sing! The X Factor Musical, written by comedian Harry Hill and featuring music and additional lyrics by Steve Brown. Making its world première at the London Palladium in March 2014, the show parodied the world of The X Factor and the people who live in it, including the music mogul himself, Simon Cowell, played to great effect by Nigel Harman. The star cast also included Ashley Knight and Victoria Elliot as fellow judges Louis and Jordy respectively, with Simon Bailey as TV presenter Liam O’Deary and Cynthia Erivo as main contestant Chenice. Other notable names included Alan Morissey as fellow contestant Max, Joe Speare as Chenice’s grandad and Simon Lipkin as her faithful dog, Barlow – as well as Scott Garnham of course. He had an ensemble role in the show and also understudied the prominent roles of Liam O’Deary, Max and Hunchback.
After the unfortunate early closure of I Can’t Sing!, Garnham took part in the workshop of Flowers For Mrs Harris playing Bob, before it was announced that he would be joining the cast of yet another new musical: Made In Dagenham. The show, which has an impressive creative team behind it and a highly talented company of actors as the front of it, has been receiving rave reviews following opening night at the Adelphi Theatre on 5th November 2014. Garnham appears in the role of Buddy Cortina and also understudies the leading male role of Eddie O’Grady, husband to Rita O’Grady, who is played by Gemma Arterton.
In addition to his many theatre roles, Garnham is a regular on the musical theatre cabaret scene. He was a featured performer in Tim Prottey-Jones’ After The Turn Gala at the Courtyard Theatre, and in the début cabaret of new composing duo Anderson and Petty at the Delfont Room, along with many further performances. He has been a regular guest performer at a selection of MADTrust events, including a recurring appearance at A West End Christmas. As one of the charity’s staunchest supporters, Garnham also organised two fundraising cabarets while still a cast member of Les Miserables, both of which were an unparalleled success and which I still remember as being amongst the most entertaining musical theatre cabarets I’ve attended. His first solo cabaret was in 2012: Late and Live in Cabaret. Staged at the Delfont Room, he was joined by some of his then-cast mates in Les Miserables and performed a mix of material, including two new, original songs b y Tim Prottey Jones and Steven Luke Walker. Most recently, he was one of the West End performers in the line-up for the 4th annual A Merry Christmas Cabaret, in aid of the charity Stand Up 2 Cancer, at the Delfont Room on 4th December 2014, and Giggin4Good’s seasonal concert, A Merry Little Christmas, at the Union Theatre on 7th December 2014.
Garnham is no stranger to organising events either. He co-founded the production company Musical Ovations with his former Les Miserables cast mate Martin Neely, presenting the mini-tour concert Direct From The West End in 2011. Joined by a group of West End performers, they performed songs from some of the best musical theatre shows around, including Les Miserables of course. I went to see the show in Windsor, which was the first time I’d seen Garnham perform live in fact. I still remember his rendition of Til I Hear You Sing from Love Never Dies – my mum and I got a sneaky preview of this performance actually when we ended up walking in on the pre-show rehearsals. He created his own cabaret-style show last year, which he took on an international tour to venues in London, New Zealand, Monte Carlo, Venice, South Africa and Yorkshire throughout 2013. The show featured a programme of West End classic and original material, interspersed with a look-back on his musical theatre career so far, and included several special guest artists.
His other theatre credits include workshops for Perfect Pitch’s Pieces of String, as well as the self-penned comedy song ‘Self Indulgent Ballad’, which came with an accompanying music video and reached No. 5 in the UK iTunes comedy chart. He also has directorial experience, such as with the York Stage Musicals’ production of Whistle Down the Wind, which ran at the Joseph Rowntree Theatre in York in May 2013. His TV credits include Pompidou (BBC/Matt Lucas) and the title role in the developmental workshop for Joe Bloggs (Pozzitive Television Ltd). He also recently appeared with the rest of the Made In Dagenham cast for performances on Children in Need and Sunday Night at the Palladium.
Whether he’s shining on stage in a big West End musical or giving an intimate cabaret performance he always delivers an outstanding vocal display and is one of the most entertaining performers around. He has delivered some classic comedic performances over the years, but is just as memorable when he simply stands on a stage and showcases his strong vocal ability. Scott Garnham really is a superb talent and one whose star is certainly on the rise. He is currently hanging his hat at the Adelphi Theatre with Made In Dagenham, but the sky’s the limit for the future of this unique performer.
You can follow Scott on Twitter: @scottgarnham
By Julie Robinson: @missjulie25
Updated 21st December 2014