Blue Eyed Girl catches up with . . . NADIM NAAMAN

I feel truly blessed to announce a first for Thoughts of A Blue Eyed Girl!

Never before have I been lucky enough to have a West End performer (particularly one that I have so much respect and admiration for) agree to chat to me not once, not twice but THREE TIMES – until today, that is!

So why not read on to find out what happened when I sat down to chat, for the THIRD time, with the awesome NADIM NAAMAN ….

 
If you had to write a letter giving advice to your 12 year old self, what would you say?
I would tell myself to enjoy being that young. Life becomes more complicated, full of anxiety and fears. If I could relive being 12 to 22, I would take many things a lot less seriously, including myself!

How do you relax in your spare time?

I try to switch off from what I do for a living, things that are connected to performing. My two biggest passions away from the arts are sports and food. You’ll most likely find me (with an increased heart-rate) watching Arsenal, in the gym, playing tennis or golf, in a restaurant or my own kitchen. I don’t eat to live, I live to eat! I’m not one for sitting around and doing nothing – I save that for holidays.
Since we last spoke in Summer 2013, you have achieved so much across a range of shows, concerts and events. Is it possible to pick a highlight? Or maybe a most memorable moment?

It’s never easy to pick one moment. A few things stick out – firstly the response and feedback that came as a result of releasing my first album. I never imagined I would get so much out of it. Secondly, being involved in productions that have gone on to have second lives; both Titanic and Sweeney Todd were wonderful experiences first time around, and now this year they both get second outings which I am thrilled to be a part of. I also have to say how much I enjoyed doing my first West End play, One Man, Two Guvnors, back in 2013-14. I was very lucky to be a part of such a successful production; it was raucous every night.
 

 
Playing Our Part – in particular – has been such a phenomenal success! What inspired you to create the event? And could you have ever imagined the phenomenal response it would receive?
 
Playing Our Part really took me by surprise. When we produced the first concert, which was a one off for a charity that I thought was somewhat neglected, we had no idea it would happen again, let along become a brand name of sorts. This is down to the audience and our supporters; as long as the appetite is there to support great causes, we are happy to entertain and put on a good show. As the name ‘Playing Our Part’ suggests, the premise is simple – we can all apply our own abilities, skills and passions to make a difference for a specific cause. As singers, we are happy to sing for a cause. As audiences members too, we are happy to be entertained knowing we are doing our bit. When Playing Our Part returns, it will be for a different charity, as I am not a fan of the idea of only helping a limited number of charities. We may also go for something a little bolder next time, so watch this space!

Nadim as Anthony and Zoe Doano as Johanna


You are currently a part of Tooting Arts’ Club’s SWEENEY TODD, which has recently found a new home on Shaftesbury Avenue. Being such a small cast and such an intimate setting, has your experience with this show been different to others you’ve been involved in?

This show is wholly unique, and the thing that makes it so is simultaneously what makes it special for both the company and the audiences. Our director Bill Buckhurst is a phenomenal story-teller. His whole basis for the production was to tell the story as clearly as we possibly could – this may sound rather obvious, but musicals as an art form can sometimes prioritise presentation and form over telling the story. For example, singing up above the audience to reach the back, now it’s a dance break, here is a break for you to applaud, etc. This production does away with all of that. The audience are in the show with us, and if we are not looking into the eyes of another actor, we are looking into the eyes of an audience member. It’s all so focused, it’s thrilling for us as actors to experience that whilst singing one of the greatest scores ever written. The result is in the feedback the show has received – they say they hear words they have never heard before, and see the characters as less stock, their traits more human and recognisable – interesting when you consider what crimes many of them commit in the story.

(Top: Dame Angela Lansbury with th cast – from Ian Mowat’s Twitter.
Below: Legendary composer Stephen Sondheim pays his first (of two) visits to see the cast – from www.whatsonstage.com)
 
The show has also been blessed with a number of very famous audience members. Who have been the most memorable guests? And do you have any stories you can share about their participation/involvement in the show?
It has been surreal to say the least. We’ve met James Franco, Victoria Wood, Alison Steadman. Even Geoffrey from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air has swung by the pie shop (Joseph Marcell)! Sir Cameron Macintosh attended our first preview, and was so supportive, and then last week we met Dame Angela Lansbury. She stayed behind to meet us all, embraced us with tears streaming down her cheeks, thanking us. It would undoubtedly be the greatest moment of my career, no question, had we not also had the honour of performing to Stephen Sondheim himself on two occasions. Once was an honour and literally incredible, but the fact that he enjoyed it so much that he flew back to watch us again took it to another level. I’ve never felt so proud or humble. We joked afterwards that we may as well retire now, because it’s not likely to get much better than this!
Looking forward – you are once again taking on the mammoth challenge of running the London Marathon this year, in aid of MAD Trust. What made you want to take on the marathon again? And why this charity in particular?
This all came about out of my own hands, which was lovely. I was approached by The Make A Difference Trust, who I have worked with previously through concerts, cabarets, and song-writing. They are a charity at the heart of the West End and the performing industry, and do wonderful and vital work fighting HIV, AIDS and many other long term illnesses. They were allocated their first ever charity place in the London Marathon, and I was both delighted and honoured to have been approached by the wonderful David Pendlebury to represent them. Hopefully, it will be the start of a great phase of people running for MADTrust, but that all depends on how much we raise. It’s an incredible cause, and I implore anyone reading this to have a look at www.virginmoneygiving.com/nadimnaaman to find out a little more about what I am doing and how they can help to make a difference.

 

You are then going to be heading off to Toronto to be a part of a new staging of TITANIC THE MUSICAL, which ran to such a wonderful response at Southwark Playhouse. What are you most looking forward to about being involved with this beautiful show again?

The score is just so beautiful. I can’t wait to sing it again. And we’ll have a few more voices this time as we are switching from the intimate Southwark Playhouse to the 2,000 seater Princess of Wales. That will be a huge challenge, but hopefully it will be one that we relish. The other lovely thing about Titanic is that it is an ensemble show – everyone has an equal amount to do, which leads to a really healthy and family-like vibe throughout the company.

And, from a music point of view, are there any plans for album number 2 in the near future?

I never write for the sake of releasing another album, but once I have enough songs that I am happy with, I will do it. I’m currently sitting on four or five that I am proud of, so I suppose I’m nearly halfway there! I am also working on a new musical with a great friend of mine. It’s very early stages, and we have no idea where it’ll go, but we have a story, about twenty minutes of script and I’ve got the basics of three songs at the moment, so if our commitments allow, hopefully we’ll have some time to make progress with it over the next year. You’re more likely to hear recordings of these songs before my own second album – that’s the way I want to prioritise things.

What are your plans for the rest of 2015 (post Titanic)?

Currently, absolutely nothing! I will have a breather over July when I get back, and hopefully a few things will line up for later in the year.

And finally – if you were going to be shipwrecked on a desert island, and could only take 3 songs with you (from any style or genre) – what songs would you take?

I’ve spent an hour thinking about this, and I can’t do it! I do know that they would most likely feature Billy Joel, Michael Jackson and Fleetwood Mac.

It is so wonderful to see that Nadim has so many wonderful projects going on both now and in the future – and deservedly so for such a talented gent!

It particularly blows my mind how he will be running the London Marathon this Sunday while in the middle of his run at SWEENEY TODD and just before he is due to head to Toronto – that is true commitment folks! And if you can sponsor Nadim, be it a small or large amount – it will truly go to a brilliant cause in the MAD Trust. Head over to www.virginmoneygiving.com/nadimnaaman for more details including how to donate – you definitely won’t regret it!

 
A personal MASSIVE thank you to Nadim for once again giving up his time to chat to me  – it is such an honour and means the absolute world to me Mr N! Thank you so much 🙂
Signing off for now
Blue Eyed Girl Xxx
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