Blue Eyed Girl interviews . . . Ricardo Afonso

 
If I’m being honest, Ricardo Afonso is a name that until recently, I had only ever heard mentioned to me by friends. I knew he had been in We Will Rock You as leading man Galileo and that he originated the role of Latin lothario Alberto Beddini in Top Hat, which I had seen him play so superbly on my first visit to the show.

It wasn’t until I sat down one Saturday evening earlier in the year and turned on The Voice that I realised what I had been missing. As soon as I saw Ricardo appear on my TV screen, I started kicking myselfhow did I not know more about this phenomenally talented guy? He commanded the stage and totally blew me away – and I was a firm supporter of Ricardo’s throughout his (albeit brief) time on the show, and have been ever since.

I was then so honoured and privileged to not only see Ricardo perform at Scott Alan’s O2 gig in August, but also to meet him in person at the after show party – and I can honestly say he is one of the kindest souls I have ever been blessed to meet.

As a result of this meeting, I was able to sit down with Ricardo to chat about subjects including the Olympics, the importance of being Green, Jesus Christ Superstar, and his upcoming role in Thriller LIVE! Take a look . . .

Tell us a little known fact about yourself – something we wouldn’t know by looking at you!

Well what you SEE is what you get with me… so no surprises there! Now something you might not know is that I wanted to be a Marine Biologist aboard Greenpeace’s “Rainbow Warrior” when I was growing up. I was so determined that when I was about 13/14, I wrote a letter to them asking what was the best way to join the ship… (Bless)… Nowadays the best way I find to (green)fight for our planet is through keen (obsessive!!) recycling.
What had been the biggest highlight of your career so far?


I’ve said this a few times now because its such a happy memory, the Olympic Games handover ceremony in front of Buckingham Palace in 2008 was just thrilling. Live for the whole world to see was the entire cast of We Will Rock You opening the procedures with “We Will Rock You” and “We Are The Champions“. That was a special day.

** Apologies for the quality – but the sounds says everything! Take a look at Ricardo and the cats of WWRY performing at the Olympic Handover Ceremony! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BWOflJFS2Ko (Video by qu63)**

And what has been the biggest obstacle you’ve had to face?


I decided to take a big risk in 2005. I left a pretty steady and stable career in Portugal to come here, to England and try to get to the West End… At that point in my life I wanted to be a part of Musical Theatre. So I sold everything I owned. My flat, car and bike and moved here. A big gamble some might say, but my opinion is that you should always pursue your dreams and aspirations whenever it’s possible… even when it might seem impossible! I was fortunate, and things worked very well. But I was prepared for the opposite as well. Leaving my friends and family behind was the hardest thing ever, but I had to do it…


If you could play any role in any show, past or present – what would you play and why?

I don’t have a favourite show or role, but I like the music in Jesus Christ Superstar and if the opportunity of playing Judas arrived, I wouldn’t say no. Quite the opposite! 🙂
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

I don’t have a single best one, I’ve received a lot of advice throughout my career and life. Some of them from myself… and I always talk to myself after every piece of advice from very close friends. So I suppose the answer is: follow your heart and your instincts.
You came to many people’s attention earlier in the year with your involvement on “The Voice” Do you still have a desire to record your own material at some point? And what could your fans expect from that material?


Yes definitely. One of the reasons for taking part in The Voice was exactly that! I still write my own music and would love to sing it live, show it to people and have it recorded. There is nothing set for now, but I’ll keep you posted.

** Watch Ricardo absolutely smash his opening audition on The Voice, performing the brilliant “Hard to Handle” – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=660OyqGxAHg **

As far as your own music goes, who would be your perfect duet partner? (And you can choose from anybody, past or present!)


Luca, my eldest son, seems to have a taste for music, so if he ever finds my music good enough to sing to, I would love to record a duet with him. Or maybe play an instrument in it. That would be very good!


You have just become a part of the cast of Thriller Live in London. What drew you to the show?

(Picture from www.groupon.co.uk)

The “Thriller Live” love affair has started a few years ago. Many different situations, on both sides – mine and the production – were never ideal. We’ve been struggling to find a scenario that works for every one, for a while now, so I am so delighted that this time, we were able to make it work. It’s a must see show in London. The energy on stage alone will make your jaw drop. It will be the best night out ever, if you like ending up dancing on your feet…

So I have to ask, what is your favourite Michael Jackson song?

Hard to say which is my favourite as I kind of like them all equally. He was a big influence on me as a kid growing up in music.

The Michael Jackson song I have play the most on vinyl, tape, CD, MP3 is without a doubt Thriller. The musical production achievement alone on that track is a landmark in music. But the groove of that song is still contemporary! The musicians that played on that song are possibly one of the best line-ups in studio sessions ever!! Starting with the amazingly talented members of Toto – one of my favourite bands – Jeff Porcaro, Steve Lukather, David Paich and Steve Porcaro.
If you had to persuade people who have never seen Thriller before to come and see it, and you only had 10 words to do it in – what would you say?
 
I’ll say it in 11 words because it’s that little bit louder😉 #spinaltap:

 

“Don’t miss this show if dancing and singing is your thing”


Thriller Live is running at the Lyric Theatre, London and is also about to embark on a UK Tour. Check out http://thrillerlive.com for all the details, as well as how you can buy tickets to see the shows!

Thank you so much to Ricardo for taking the time to answer my questions – seriously folks, this guys talent is just out of this world and after listening to some of his own music over on YouTube (check out http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCHtpzDGo2y8nUjmXVa4S7aQ), it is clear to see what a phenomenal talent he possesses, as well as being an absolute gentleman too! I have never seen Thriller Live before – but I will be going to see Ricardo in the show at the end of October – and my dancing shoes will be firmly on! Can’t wait! 🙂

Signing off for now

Blue Eyed Girl Xxx

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Blue Eyed Girl interviews . . . Tam Mutu


Tam Mutu is one of the most versatile performers currently gracing a West End stage. Over his career, he has taken on such varied roles as Anatoly in “Chess”, Longaville in “Love’s Labour’s Lost” and the Phantom in “Love Never Dies.”

He is currently keeping the convicts in check as Javert at the Queen’s Theatre in the smash hit “Les Miserables.” Despite playing this role for 15 months (and still counting!), he continues to bring strength, power and precision to a role that he has totally made his own – and I should know, having seen him play everyone’s favourite suicidal copper 7 times now! (In fact, I’ve just booked my 8th visit!!)

I have so much respect and admiration for Tam and everything he does, so needless to say when he agreed to take part in an interview, I was rather pleased 🙂

Read on to find out what happened when we discussed Disney, Shakespeare, Eminem and Rafael Nadal . . . .

Tell us a little known fact about yourself – something we wouldn’t know by looking at you.

Although I was born and live in England, I actually have no English connection at all! I am made up of Turkish, Italian and Irish. Oh and I love Disney!

Who or what inspired you to get into the acting profession?

I suppose that would have to be one of my good friends Jeremy Sharples who is currently part of a group called Tenors Unlimited (Check them out!!). We did amateur dramatic shows together in my home town, Hastings. He was studying at music college and I was about to start my GCSE’s. I remember thinking my God! What a voice! I would like to be able to sing like that. He has always been a guiding light throughout my career. I am very lucky to have him in my life.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given? And what advice would you give to young and upcoming performers trying to break into the industry?

I think the best piece of advice I have been given is to truly believe in yourself as a performer/artist. Because if you don’t believe in yourself, why would/should anyone else?

My advice to upcoming performers would be to do the work. No one can do it for you. Andtrust that if you do the work and believe in yourself, the opportunities will present themselves.

If you could play any role, be it play or musical, past or present, what would be your dream role to play and why?

Ooooohhhh this is a hard one! OK, I am going to give you two. Play and musical.

Although it is not the biggest part, I have always, always wanted to play Hotspur (Henry Percy) in Shakespeare’s Henry IV. I remember reading his “My liege I did deny no prisoners” speech and fell in love with the character from then on. He reminds me of me in many ways. Very fiery and passionate. Plus he dies. Most of the characters I have played or want to play die. What’s not to like!

The musical character would have to be Sweeney (Benjamin Barker) in Sweeney Todd. They keep doing new versions of this wonderful Sondheim piece and I really hope one day I get to play this role. He is the ultimate tragic hero. So dark but so lovable. I also love the songs he gets to sing. “Pretty Women” is just beautiful and my favourite “Epiphany“. What a song!!!

Is there a show, currently in the West End or on Broadway, that you would really like to see but haven’t yet? Why that show in particular?

There are so many shows I would love to see. One thing about being a performer is it becomes so difficult trying to see other shows that are on. We generally have very similar schedules. We may be lucky and our matinee days may differ or the odd show may perform on a Sunday but it can be very tricky. I have lots of friends in shows, long running shows even, that I would love to see and I just haven’t had time to get to see them…..yet!


If you had to choose any 3 songs from any genre, as the soundtrack to your life so far, what would they be and why?

OK, so my first song choice would have to be “Here Comes The Sun” by The Beatles.

Yes there is a pun intended.

But joking aside, it also represents how I felt, and was, when growing up. I was always very happy and smiley and loved being outside. All my favourite memoriesthroughout my childhood are sun filled.

I can hear people laughing and asking “What happened?” Ha!

My second song choice would have to be “I Wanna Be Like You” from Disney’s The Jungle Book

When I was young I was obsessed with footballers and sport in general (I still am!). I always wanted to be my favourite sports person. Whether it was Roberto Baggio, the Italian footballer, or Andre Agassi, the US tennis star.

As I got older and interested in performing  these role models have become more diverse. I still love my sports stars (Vamos Rafa!) but now I have the likes of Leonardo Di Caprio and Jack Nicholson to name but a few, added to the list.

I think it’s great to have people who inspire you, and who you aspire to be like….(not be might I add).

My third song choice would have to be “Lose Yourself” by Eminem.

The song relates to overcoming fears and giving your best and taking your chance/seizing the moment. I love Eminem and this song specifically has been part of my performing/sporting life. I have always found it gives me an energy, the way music can, and is the one I will use before opening nights and important performances/interviews/sports/runs etc.

I find Eminem on the whole has helped me through a number of situations. I am very grateful for his music.

I can’t thank Tam enough for agreeing to, and taking part in this interview! He is truly one of the most talented and kind-hearted performers that I have ever had the blessing to meet and I just know that whatever the future may hold, it is looking so bright for this wonderful gentleman!

Signing off for now

Blue Eyed Girl Xxx
 

FACE TO FACE! Blue Eyed Girl catches up with . . . Craig Mather

At the start of the year, I was very lucky to be able to chat to the wonderful Craig Mather, who had not long finished his amazing run as “Marius” in the long-running musical smash “Les Miserables.”
During that interview, he spoke about his desire to be releasing some of his original music during 2013, and for anyone that has been near social media recently, you will know that it is nearly a reality for this very talented guy.
When Craig presented me with the opportunity to meet him, face to face, to catch up and have a chat about all the exciting projects he had coming up, there was no way I could refuse!
So on a sunny afternoon, not far from his old stomping ground of the Queen’s Theatre, I met up with Craig – and his lovely Project Manager Tom Callister – to chat about Les Mis, Jason Mraz and an 18,000 seat area, Niall from One Direction, and No Regrets!!!
Les Miserables was such a huge part of the past few years for you. If you had to sum up your experience there in just 5 words, what would you say?
In 5 words? God, that’s really hard! Let’s say – it was unreal (to start with!), exciting, a new journey– but that’s two words, so put a dash in it! It was definitely a dream – I mean it didn’t feel that real, because every boy aspires to be Marius. For someone who is very young – I mean Les Mis has been a huge part of my life, from probably the age of 16 when I did a School Edition of Les Mis, and I played Valjean. I auditioned with and got into Drama School with “Bring Him Home”, and then my second job out of college was Marius. So, yes, it was slightly bonkers – there’s another word!
What was the last West End show that you saw?
It was The Book of Mormon. It’s brilliant – just amazing. And obviously knowing Lexi (Alexia Khadime, who played Eponine in Les Mis at the same time Craig was there), she was amazing – just so good.
If you had a choice of any West End show, be it a play or musical – past or present, which show would you love to be a part of?
I want to do War Horseeveryone knows that. I’d like to do a new show, you know, originate a role and put my stamp on it and then someone else could take it on from there. There are quite a few things I would like to do, but I’m the kind of person who is very much a believer in whatever happens happens!
Is there a Musical Theatre performer, be it from the West End or Broadway, who you would like to work with?
Funnily enough, I aspired to be like John Owen Jones, when I was 16 and playing Valjean. He doesn’t remember – because I asked him, but he wrote me a card when I was 17 saying “Good luck with your run as Valjean mate, don’t be better than me!” That’s quite bizarre! I mean, I have a photo of me when I was 15, at Queens Stage Door with John – I never could have imagined I would end up working there!
At some point in the future, if there was going to be a musical based on your life, who would you want to play you?
Justin Bieber – no, no, no! Joking! That’s something very random to think about! Well I’ve been told I look like Niall from One Direction – so I guess let’s go for him.
As far as music goes, who would you say are your biggest inspirations?
Definitely without a doubt, Jason Mraz. I think he is amazing. And a lot of his rhythms, the way he plays guitar, I’ve grown up being influenced by his technique. I taught myself the guitar, so listening to him has certainly influenced me greatly.
What was the first album you ever bought? And what was the last album you bought?
I don’t remember. I think it was something like Sum 41 – In Too Deep and Fat Lip and all that stuff. Pretty punky! Actually, I don’t think it was! I think it was Linkin Park or Limp Bizkitreally rocky. I went through that stage – don’t judge me! My first single was “When the Going Gets Tough” by Boyzone – now that’s embarrassing!But hey, you’ve got to start somewhere! Most recent album? I downloaded Daft Punk’s latest album – great tunes and an awesome album.
What was the last gig/concert you went to that left you speechless in a good way?
I went to see Jason Mraz – I’d never seen him live – and I went in Amsterdam in October last year. I remember sitting there thinking “This is ridiculous! I am actually here!” And what I really respect about him, and I think if I was ever to become a successful songwriter, I would do what he did. He came on and introduced his support acts, being so humble and so casual, encouraging the crowd to get behind them – I don’t think he had any shoes on, very hippy like – but I took so much from that. It’s not building yourself up, like I can’t be seen. And it was in an 18,000 seat arena too. I just thought it was a really nice thing to do.
In the world of Reality TV that we live in today, do you think it is a good thing to have so many music based “talent” shows?
Personally, I don’t necessarily like them. You have to remember it is a TV show. Many people walk into it thinking it’s a competitionwhich it is – but there is still a storyline to it. Beginning, middle and end. There has to be a big shock and all these different things. As long as you remember that, it’s OK but I think it’s getting a bit silly now. It’s just a bit too much. I was asked to audition for The Voice this year, but I just thought I didn’t want to do that to myself, especially after seeing Liam (Tamne, former Les Mis cast-mate and The Voice contestant), and how distraught it made him.
Your EP is coming out very soon – why did you choose the Indiegogo campaign route in order to raise funds for it?
The idea came round really quickly. We (Craig and Project Manager Tom) were just sitting round, about to see a show, thinking of ways we could raise money to make the EP. Tom suggested gigging to raise money, and I put forward the idea of the internet fundraising. It was a brave thing to do, but sometimes if you don’t put yourself out there, you don’t get anywhere! So Tom went away, looked at different sites to see which was best for what we wanted to do. We did set a goal, and I never thought we would do it. He (Tom) was more optimistic, but I was like we’ll be lucky to get half of that.
Did you ever think it would be as much of a success as it was?
Well, we were about £3,000 off the actual target but I had set a Plan B target which was around £3,000-£4,000 and we’re there! We can do a really good recording of my tracks, with a full band and everything which is so exciting. I’m just thrilled and so thankful for everyone that has helped out – it’s just amazing!
What will the songs on the EP tell your fans about you that they may not already know?
The way I write isn’t the way a typical artist would write. You get these artists who have had really awful upbringings, and they bring all of that, the emotions and the rollercoaster of it all to an album, whereas me – as I come from the acting side – I put myself in a position so I am able to write about different things in my songs that haven’t necessarily happened to me directly. Does it show I am versatile? Maybe it does.
Your EP is all original material – BUT, if you had to include one musical theatre song, what would it be and why?
That’s a tough one indeed! I think I would try and stay away from that, because that’s not what I want to do. This EP is about venturing into another field, into another genre. Not that I’m saying I don’t like it! It’s just that is my job, whereas my own music is my hobby.
If you could duet with any artist, past or present on a track on your album, who would it be and why?
Of course Jason Mraz, but that’s too obvious! My Mom and Dad always thought I should have been born in the 1940s, so I would I have been a teenager in the 1950s/1960s so maybe Elvis. There’s just something about that era I find very stylish and very sexy– all the music is so uplifting.
If you had to choose 3 songs from any genre as the soundtrack to your life so far, what would they be and why?
Bring Him Home” has to be in there as that’s the song that brought me to where I am today.
No Regrets” by Robbie Williams – I think it just says it all!
Make it Mine” by Jason Mraz – Again, another one that I think says it all.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
As in my “dream” 5 years time? Hopefully a lot more people will know my material. I’d have another 3 or 4 EPs out – maybe even a full album. I would like to have a record deal of some sort, whether independent or touring with somebody – just so I’ve done it, even if it doesn’t work out, at least I can say I’ve done it. And I want to be rich!
You can keep up to date with the progress Craig is making on his EP over at http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/craig-mather-debut-ep 
He will officially launch the EP on Sunday 10th November with a gig at the Black Velvet Club in West Kensington, London. With guests including Jacob & Goliath, Simon Bailey and a few extra special surprises, it’s going to be one amazing evening! You can order tickets from his website over at http://www.craigmather.com  

I can’t thank Craig enough for giving me the opportunity to sit down and chat about all of his exciting projects in a face to face situation. It was so wonderful to chat about so many different things, with lots of laughs along the way – and I wish him nothing but the most luck and blessings that he so truly deserves for the journey he has ahead of him.

Signing off for now

Blue Eyed Girl Xxx