One of the amazing stars of the last Singers Soiree, that I mentioned during my interview with Jamie Chapman Dixon (which you can read here) was the brilliant Shaun McCourt.
His career so far has included roles in The Pirates of Penzance (Kilworth House Theatre) and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat (London Palladium), he continues to go from strength to strength as his amazing talent is recognised more and more.
It was my great honour to sit down with Shaun to discuss gymnastics, Bugsy Malone, Les Miserables, The Colour Purple and getting what you want . . .
Tell us a little known fact about yourself – something we wouldn’t know by looking at you
A little fact about me…erm…not many people know I was a competitive gymnast during my childhood. I did that for quite a few years.
Who or what inspired you to get into the Theatre industry?
I had always enjoyed going to the theatre when I was younger but I didn’t get involved or take an interest in it until I was about 15. A teacher at secondary school persuaded me to audition for the end of year production of Bugsy Malone and once I was up there singing ‘Tomorrow‘ and dancing with a broom, I guess I was hooked. That was the first time anyone had heard me sing.
What has been the biggest obstacle you have faced in your career so far?
I think all actors will agree that quite often this industry is just one big obstacle. When they say you need a thick skin, they are not lying! I would say the biggest obstacle is staying positive in those periods where things are not going the way you would hope. The times when it is really quietwith auditions means it is easy to lose faith and hope that something is around the corner . The obstacle is picking yourself back up, dusting yourself off and remembering why it is you have chosen to do this as a career.
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?
Oh, this is a really trickyquestion because it would be easy just to choose my 3 favourite songs but it’s finding the reasons.
OK, my first choice would actually be my favourite song of all time which is ‘Why‘ by Annie Lennox. It has no particular significance other than I think it is a beautiful song. It is something I can listen to over and over and helps to calm me down. I think its important that we all have a song which makes us smile every time we hear it.
I suppose I have quite a few of these but my second song choice would be ‘Always There’ by Jocelyn Brown. I love this song and it is one of those which holds lots of memories but also one I can play really loud (I don’t dance around when home alone…..much) and it makes me smile.
This list would not be complete without a song from a musical. My third choice is ‘One Day More’ from Les Miserables. I have no doubt my friends will sigh as they read this. It is without doubt the best musical to have been put on stage and this number always makes my hairs stand on end and my eyes well up(with those sort of happy tears). It is such an incredibly powerful piece of music and the message is also important. To me it is about striving for better and looking to the future and this itself is a great message. Of course, there is the added reason, that one day I want to be up there singing it.
What is your must-see West End or Fringe show at the moment?
If it was still running I would be saying ‘The Colour Purple’ because it truly is one of the best pieces of theatre I have seen in London. An incredibly talented cast and a great score. I was absolutely captured for every moment Cynthia Erivo was on that stage. There is such high quality theatre outside of the West Endin venues such as the Union and the Southwark Playhouse (the recent production of Titanic was brilliant!).
If I were to recommend a West End production which is currently running, I would go for ‘Matilda‘. This show has it all – a great score and book, moments of comedyand moments which tug at the heart strings as well as a great cast(the children are insanely talented). I think it would make even the most grumpy of individuals leave the theatre with a big smile on their face 🙂
If you could play any role, be it play or musical, past or present, what would be your dream role to play and why?
Anyone who knows me will know that my dream production to be part of would be ‘Les Miserables’. This is my favourite show of all time and it would be a dream come true to be part of the cast one day. There are a number of roles in this show which I would love to play so the opportunity to do any of these would make me a very happy man!
From a music perspective, who are your biggest influences? And who are your favourite artists to listen to?
Although I am told to broaden my horizons, a lot of the music I choose to listen to is centred around musical theatre. I can be a bit of a geek and will constantly be researching new shows and soundtracks.
Other than musical theatre, I like a real mix of music. I tend to get bored of listening to individual artistsso iTunes is always on shuffle. It really is an eclectic mix with artists including Annie Lennox, Kate Rusby, Seal, Jocelyn Brown, Natalie Cole, Adele, Madness…the list goes on. I tend to like a bit of everything….oh and I love 80’s Music. I think that is myfavourite decade for music.
I wouldn’t say one specific artist influences me as I like such a variety of genres and styles. I think in the current music industry, a lot of it is no longer about the vocalswhich I hate. I love and appreciate listening to great voices.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
The best piece of advice I have ever been given. This is tricky. I have an incredibly supportive family around me who are always willing to offer advice and I try as much as possible to take it on board. However a phrase which really sticks in my head which I have been told on a few occasions by a couple of people is “What’s for you, wont pass you by“. Those who use this phrase with regards to me will know exactly who they are when reading this. I think it is something which I have to push myself to believe in this industry (and it’s not always easy) but it is something that constantly surfaceswhen I am having a tough day. It’s that whole idea of something just being around the corner.
I will also occasionally get a letterfrom my Grandma in the post (yes a letter people, she is not into emails or texts!). These are always filled with words of wisdom. However there is one thing she always writes towards the end of each letter. This follows the usual “I have enclosed £10 for you to get some sweets or something” (She knows me well). Just after this she always writes “Never stop believing in yourself and go out there and get what you want“. I would say this is some pretty sound advice 🙂
What are your plans and hopes for the rest of 2013 and beyond?
2013 has been a fairly quiet year for me with the exception of an array of gigs and concerts which I am always really happy to take part in. I am going to be doing a show over Christmas which I am looking forward to taking part in and then it is on to 2014. I have very definite ideas about what I want to achieve in 2014and I am positive it will be a good year. What I do know is that I will be following that “go out and get what you want” advice.
Thank you so much to Shaun for answering my questions – you mark my words folks, this man is one to watch!
Signing off for now
Blue Eyed Girl Xxx