It is my absolute honour, and gives me so much joy to announce that my newest interviewee is the phenomenal HADLEY FRASER. Anyone who knows me knows how much respect and admiration I have for this very talented gentleman, so I actually still can’t believe I have had the privilege to interview him.
One of the most versatile performers I have ever had the honour to see perform on stage, Hadley has performed in such diverse productions as Les Miserables, the Phantom of the Opera, The Pirate Queen, The Fantasticks, The Pajama Game, A Christmas Carol, The Last 5 Years, The Machine, The Pirates of Penzance, and most recently, the sublime Coriolanus. Not only does Hadley excel when he is performing on stage, he is also a gifted musician, both in his own right, and as part of SHEYTOONS with Ramin Karimloo and some very talented friends.
Read on to find out what happened when Hadley and I discussed juggling, originating a role, Shakey, red jeans, his own album and what is ahead for the rest of 2014 . . .
Tell us a little known fact about yourself – something we wouldn’t know by looking at you.
I’m quite a good juggler.
Who or what inspired you to get into the Theatre Industry?
Not too sure about getting into the Industry. But I remember watching my brother as Bernardo in our school production of West Side Story and being thrilled by the orchestra during the Dance at The Gym. I mean, this was a school band so probably not threatening the Philharmonic – but when the congas came in prior to the Mambo I thought to myself, “I want to have a go at that“. Went home and listened to the soundtrack (on cassette as it was back then) and next time my school did a musical I was at the front of the queue.
What has been the best moment of your career so far (if you had to pick just one)? And what has been the biggest obstacle you have faced?
Not sure I could pick one. I’m not awfully career-oriented, so frankly I look back on most jobs with an equal sense of perspective and pleasure. Usually the best moment career-wise are when something personal is delivered in the same envelope.
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?
This is tremendously hard. I listen to a great deal of music, so whittling a selection down is always hard. Let me slightly dodge the question by answering that in fantasy land I’d ask Thomas Newman, Darrell Scott and Elbow to score the soundtrack.
Last year, you starred in “The Machine”, both in Manchester and New York – how was it going into a production that was so different from your previous on stage roles as Javert in “Les Miserables” and Sid Sorokin in “The Pajama Game”?
It was no massive shift. I’ve been fortunate throughout my career to play a diverse number of parts. Bear in mind this wasn’t the first time I’ve done straight theatre (I had a few years in the profession pre-twitter…) so it was no different to going from Gilbert and Sullivan to Boucicault or Arnold Wesker to Stephen Sondheim. Ultimately I’m just damned happy when anyone offers me a job. What WAS thrilling about The Machine, which was different to Les Mis and PJ Game was being a part of a new production. Originating parts is always so thrilling. New work is what keeps us alive, artistically speaking.
You have recently finished playing Tullus Aufidius in the Donmar Warehouse production of “Coriolanus”. Was the dream of being part of a Shakespearian production – especially one so unique – everything you hoped it would be?
And more! I’ve said it to others, but there was something exceptionally thrilling about that production. Tackling an epic play in such an intimate venue, playing an interesting part surrounded by talented individuals on stage and off, and getting to grips with the verse was all a tremendous experience and one I hope to repeat. It’s given me a taste for Shakey. Would love to do a comedy down the line…
I mentioned Les Mis – how much fun was it to be a part of the movie adaptation that has brought such a legendary story to a whole new audience?
It was great fun, especially being part of the stage production at the same time. I mean, I suppose me and the other double-shifters may have been subject to a little Mis overload at the time – but I’ll never forget walking out onto the soundstage at Pinewood and seeing the barricades. My word what a thrill. It was an exciting time to be part of the show – I’ll always remember seeing Eddie Redmayne applauding the company from prompt corner at the Queen’s prior to filming. He was excited and so were we, even though at that time I don’t think any of us had even auditioned…
(Hadley as Javert in the West End production of Les Misrables. 2011)
What is the best (or shall we say most memorable) musical or play you have ever seen?
The Pillowman at the NT and Jerusalem at the Royal Court stick in my mind – though obviously it’s hard not to mention others.
Is there a current West End show/play that you haven’t seen that you really want to see?
Ghosts at the Trafalgar (though have I missed it…?)
If you had the choice of any West End show (be it a play or musical theatre, past or present), what would your dream role to play be and why?
A frequent question to most actors I suppose, and one I never quite know how to answer. I want to do more new work, so I can’t answer that too specifically. If pushed, in a few years I’d love to play Sweeney Todd. Let me stress, IN A FEW YEARS.
Which West End show (be it a play or musical) would you most liked to see revived and why?
As far as your own music goes, you have always talked about putting together an album of original material. Are you any closer to achieving this dream?
Yes, actually I am, though I don’t want to put a time frame on it. Suffice to say I’ve recently been incredibly lucky with realising the project in the manner I’ve always wanted.
How would you describe your own music to someone who has never heard it before?
Who would you say are the biggest influences on your own music?
Erm… Darrell Scott, John Martyn, Nick Drake, Crooked Still, Sheryl Crow. I could go on…
What is the one album – past or present – that you think everyone should listen to at least once?
Martha Argerich playing Ravel’s Gaspard de la Nuit. I wrote my only completed play listening to nothing else (the play is terrible and unproduced, the music sublime).
If you could collaborate with any artist – past or present – on your album, who would it be and why?
Darrell Scott (are you spotting a theme)? There is a soul within his writing and playing that touches mine.
What was the last concert/gig you went to that left you speechless (in a good way)?
I hate to sound like a broken record, but honestly it was Darrell Scott live at the Leicester Square theatre. Just him solo for a couple of hours. Speechless, awe-struck heaven.
(One of my Stage Door pictures with Hadley, this was at the Pajama Game in Chichester, June 2013)
If you could give your 13 year old self one piece of advice – what would it be and why?
Don’t buy those red jeans. Man, they were terrible.
What do you do to relax in your spare time?
Cook, run, listen to more music.
What are your plans and hopes for the rest of 2014?
Plans mostly involve getting married. Hopes include the successful completion of this event.
I can’t thank Hadley enough for taking the time to take part in this interview – it truly means the absolute world to me and no words can truly express to him how thankful I am.
I wish him, as I’m sure we all do, nothing but joy, luck and happiness for the rest of the year, particularly in his upcoming marriage to the beautiful Rosalie Craig.
Signing off for now
(A very, very happy) Blue Eyed Girl Xxx