The recent announcement that I Can’t Sing! The X Factor musical is to close was a surprise to many in light of the fact that it had only opened at the London Palladium in March. A two-month run for a new West End show, and especially one which received so much hype, is a disappointment to say the least, but unpredictability is part and parcel of this business and it’s an impossibility to know ahead of time which shows will succeed and which will not. The message this serves to teach is that a long-running musical is actually a less-than-common occurrence in the West End, and those which make it through the first year or so are exceptions to the rule.
Shows which then go on to celebrate milestone anniversaries are even more of a rarity. There are only two in the West End right now which have been so successful they have not only reached but surpassed their 25th birthdays, and the second of these is The Phantom of the Opera. My own personal favourite, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s gothic romance is undoubtedly his biggest hit musical and adored by fans from all around the globe who flock to London’s West End to see it in its home of twenty eight years, Her Majesty’s Theatre.
So many actors/actresses have stood on that stage over the course of that time as part of the numerous different casts which have performed in the show since Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman first introduced the Phantom and his Christine to the world. Geronimo Rauch and Harriet Jones (Olivia Brereton plays Christine at certain performances) currently play those iconic roles alongside the other members of the company, which features several Swings who are ready to take on a variety of the show’s roles…sometimes at a mere moment’s notice. Leo Mile is a Swing in The Phantom of the Opera, and this week, he takes centre stage as the featured ensemble member in this latest edition of In Profile.
Leo Mile is an actor still in the dawn of his career, with the sun continuing to rise and taking him to ever-increasing heights on its rays. Originating from the Northern county of Merseyside, he spent the early years of his life in his hometown of Blundellsands, Liverpool with dreams of performing already in his mind. His natural talent saw him spotted by Wayne Sleep, renowned ballet dancer/choreographer and founder of dance company DASH, which led to an invitation to attend the Royal Ballet School in Surrey on an intensive summer school training program.
He emigrated to Abu Dhabi with his family at the age of eleven and spent the subsequent years moving back and forth between the UAE and France, learning to speak fluently the language of the latter. His love of the stage did not diminish in that time, but instead grew and flourished with his involvement in a variety of local theatre productions and as a finalist in a X Factor-style singing contest. It was when living in Paris that he was admitted to the prestigious L’Ecole Internationale de Theatre Jacques Lecoq, which specialises in physical theatre and was founded by famous French mime artiste Jacques Pierre Lecoq in 1956. He spent two years at the school learning the art of physical theatre, movement and mime before returning to the UK, where he was accepted into the Royal Academy of Music (RAM) after being awarded a bursary from the BBC Performing Arts Fund. The London-based school is one of the UK’s leading performing arts institutions and has produced many stars of the stage over the years, including such performers as Lesley Garrett, Fra Fee and Rosemary Ashe. After training there for a year he entered the professional world of theatre with a postgraduate diploma in Musical Theatre in the year of 2011, ready to make a name for himself.
One of his first roles after graduating from RAM was as Ensemble/Henry Ford in Robert McWhir’s production of Ragtime at the Landor Theatre, which received positive reviews from the critics. He was also asked by the BBC to perform at Stephen Sondheim’s 80th birthday celebration at the Royal Albert Hall with the BBC Performing Arts Fund Ensemble. Building on these early successes, it wasn’t long before climbed another rung of the ladder and he soon found himself in the title role of The Who musical Tommy in the production at the English Theatre in Frankfurt, Germany, a role he had previously played in his end of year showcase at RAM. He went on to then reprise the role in the follow-up European tour.
Another principal role came shortly after that. He played the lead male role of Tony an all-new production of West Side Story, staged and directed by award-winning dancer and choreographer Will Tuckett, as part of the World Shakespeare Festival in 2012.
He was then cast as Kenneth in an Off-West End production of Call Me Madam at the Union Theatre, which was directed by Michael Strassen. His performance earned him a ‘Best Male’ nomination in the OFFIES (Off-West End Theatre Awards). After that he joined the cast of Salad Days, a comical, operatic musical which follows young lovers Jane and Timothy through a summer month in the 1950’s after having graduated from university. He played lead male Timothy in the production at the Riverside Studios opposite Katie Moore as Jane.
Most recently he was seen at the Southwark Playhouse in the European premiere of a new chamber version of the Broadway musical Titanic. He played the role of Fleet in the 20-strong company which also featured such names as Simon Green, Celia Graham, Nadim Naaman and Greg Castiglioni. It was highly praised for fans and critics alike and won a score of awards.
His list of theatre credits also includes a workshop production of Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown for ATG.
Leo Miles can currently be found performing in The Phantom of the Opera at Her Majesty’s Theatre. He joined the long-running musical as a Swing in September 2013 and his appearance in the show marks his West End debut. A talented young actor who has already achieved much in the three years since embarking on a professional stage career, he may well continue to rise and become a true star in the West End.
By Julie Robinson (@missjulie25)
You can follow Leo on Twitter: @Leo_Miles
Saturday 3rd May 2014