Jake Quickenden, playing 'Peter Pan'
U: So this is your first acting role, are you excited or nervous?
JQ: You know it’s funny to talk to someone who has been to acting school and has kind of come out of it because, I guess for you guys it’s pretty annoying when somebody who’s just done a reality show gets an acting job because we haven’t worked for it. I didn’t want to just be handed something because of what I’d done, I’m not about that, because I know how hard it is for people that have worked all their lives and then they don’t get anywhere with it because there’s people taking jobs who have no past experience. So I did the acting lessons to kind of prepare myself and I did the audition, I didn’t just get handed it. So I kind of proved to myself there, [I’m] actually alright. Hopefully you actors won’t be mad at me (Laughs).
U: What would you say you’ve taken most from your acting classes?
JQ: Im quite confident anyway, but to act like some one else is hard, because I’ve never had to do that I’ve always been myself, with singing on stage I don’t have to act like anyone else. It was so nerve wrecking, I did 1:1 lessons so I’d get a script the night before and I’d learn my lines and I'm not joking, I used to go in the next day looking like a zombie because I’d stayed up all night learning these lines, and then I was really paranoid about doing it and kind of quiet and in my shell and I'm thinking, I'm not like this at all! So it’s coming out and not being afraid to be a bit stupid and be a bit different because at the end of the day, you’re playing a character and you’ve got to. So yes, it just took me a little bit of time to get used to actually not being myself, being someone else…which I don’t mind (laughs) but I do like being me, and I’ve always been me when I’ve been on stage so it’s a different thing for me to be someone else on stage.
U: Do you think acting is something you’d like to continue with?
JQ: 100%. Well I took the lessons before I even knew I’d got the role. So I started taking the lessons because I wanted to give myself a new challenge, another string to my bow. Because I can do a bit of singing, I’ve done a bit of TV presenting, so why not add a bit of acting and learn a new skill. If this goes well and I keep going with the acting lessons, you never know what kind of doors can be opened, and I’d love to continue with the acting because I do enjoy when I go into my acting lessons. I’ve started doing a few more now where I'm in a big group, and it’s quite daunting when they say stand up you’ve got to act with her and you’ve got to do a scene. But I do really enjoy it so if anything comes out of it, you could see me in Emmerdale, chucking some hay bails around you never know (laughs).
U: Has there ever been a point in your career where you’ve felt like an underdog?
JQ: I think I’ve always felt like the underdog. Going on X Factor, I know that I’m not the best singer in the world, and listening to these singers like when you’re at boot camp, I knew that I wasn’t going to win, I can say that because I’m not the strongest of singers, there are so many amazing singers and so many amazing artists, so I was kind of an underdog in there. Then going into the jungle and being offered that opportunity, I was a no one, all I’d done is X Factor, I’m not a celebrity. So for me I was like, again I'm an underdog, I’ve got to prove now, on X Factor I never really got to show my personality, so again I’ve got to prove the kind of person I am. So I’ve always kind of been the underdog, I guess I'm the underdog in this because I’ve never done [a musical] before so I'm quite open to scrutiny if it goes wrong and it's not very good.
U: But sometimes feeling like the underdog can make you push that little bit harder?
JQ: Exactly! I love being the underdog. Its amazing because I’ll work really hard because I want to do well and I want to do well for the people who have given me the opportunity and my other cast members.
Q: Are you particularly inspired by any of your cast members?
A: Jen has obviously had an amazing career, she’s done it all! Shes been a dancer, had record deals and released songs in the UK and she's been an actress so yes, I don’t think I could’ve been placed with a better person to learn from. I’ll definitely be taking in and advice she gives me, and if I can help her out in anyway then I’ll always try but I think I’ll be asking her a lot of questions.
U: What would your dream role in a play or musical be?
JQ: I do like muscials. I’d love to play Patrick Swayze’s character in Ghost, I think that’s amazing. West End is great, Grease, stuff like that. But I would never turn anything down, because I always think, no matter if it goes well or if it goes wrong, you’re always learning something.
U: Have you been on many trips to the theatre this year? If so what has been your favourite?
JQ: I’m off to London on Saturday to see Matilda. My girlfriends sister is a teacher at a place called Little Voices, and one of her students is in Matilda so we’re going to go and watch them. I watched Cats as well, and I liked it, but it was more musical than acting, there's not much acting in Cats it’s a lot of singing! So it’ll be good to see one with a bit of both.
U: What’s next in the pipeline for you?
JQ: I'm open to anything. We’ll see how this goes and you never know what doors this could open. I’ll always get back in the studio and keep doing music, you never know if any TV stuff comes around but I do want to be taken seriously, so the TV stuff has to be right for me. If it was reality [TV] it would have to be something where I'm learning a skill. I’ll always keep my options open and hopefully it’ll be alright.
Jennifer Ellison, playing Captain Hook
U: Are you excited to start rehearsals? and do you have any pre-show rituals?
JE: I am yes I’m really looking forward to it, really excited. And no not really, I think I’ve done it so many times now it’s just like… I do get nervous, but there’s nothing, like, particular that I do, no.
U: Were you more nervous for your first ever set or stage experience?
JE: I think stage experience because it’s live and you can’t go wrong. My first West End job was Chicago playing the lead, so, I kind of jumped into deep water really, it wasn’t something I gradually built it was probably the most iconic role of its time and one of the biggest musicals of all time. So I wasn’t doing things by halves. But definitely live because you don’t [get a second chance], having done Brookside, I’d done lots of filming, so the filming was kind of, you kind of knew it.
Q: Has there ever been a particular point in your career where you’ve felt like an underdog?
A: I think doing Phantom I was like, so out of my league because I was working with Hollywood A-list actors, so I think that was probably when I felt like the most out of my depth. I was a bit like what am I actually doing here because these are all like Hollywood Oscar nominated Actors and Actresses and I'm Jen from Liverpool (Laughs). So that was probably the time I felt the most like an underdog.
Q: Is there anyone that you’ve worked with in the past that has particularly inspired you?
A: There’s been so many people. I worked with Bernie Nolan who recently passed away and Lynda Bellingham in Calendar Girls, I think they probably [inspired me most]. Bernie had just got the all clear for cancer and, going out every day and performing and staying on tour with us, you know, that was inspiring more so than talent. When she sang, she had the most incredible voice, so it’s people who have sentimental value, more than talent really I’d say.
Q: Have been on many trips to the theatre this year, if so, what has been your favourite?
A: I went to see Kinky Boots and Book of Mormon and they were great, they were incredible.
Q: What would your dream role in a play or musical be?
A: I’d love to do a real gritty drama, which is just about the acting. Something like This is England or Three Girls, something different.
Q: Do you have any rehearsal essintials?
A: Mobile phone (Laughs). Water, chewing gum.
Q: What’s next in the pipeline for you?
A: Well I own a performing arts school and college now, so it’s basically getting them through their qualification, they’re doing a BTEC Level 3, so yes, it’s kind of all systems go with that really. I’m the principle of the college so it’s very hands on and takes a lot of time.
Scott Gallagher, playing 'Smee'
U: So you’re going to be playing Mr Smee, are there any parts of your personality that you’re going to try and bring to the character?
SG: Probably the cheekiness and the sarcastic side of it. At work and well, just in general, I’m known for being quite sarcastic and that kind of thing so I’m hoping to bring that through and just bring myself through, to be honest with you. I think being a local lad and working locally this Christmas, it’s going to be nice to try and bring me through, obviously, you know, stay with Mr Smee but, you know, make people aware it’s me, that kind of thing.
U: Has there ever been a particular part in your career when you’ve felt like an underdog?
SG: To be honest with you I think a lot of the time in a lot of the shows that I’ve done, I’m not going to say underdog, but because I’ve not had as much experience professionally as [Jake, Maureen and Jennifer] I feel sometimes that I maybe need to prove myself a little bit more and you know, go that extra mile. But as an underdog, probably not. But in that kind of sense of it yes, the challenge is going to be there at Christmas which I’m really looking forward to.
U: Are there any cast members that particularly inspire you?
SG: All of them really, obviously Maureen Nolan speaks for herself, she’s a legend so I look up to her and everything shes done. Jennifer I’ve only just met in the last couple of weeks and listening to her story, we grew up around the same age, seeing her on Brookside seeing her on TV, her journey from a young age is quite inspiring and also Jake as well, listening to his story coming from kind of not a great background to obviously straight into the X Factor and things like that, that’s quite inspiring to kind of just go you know what head down, crack on and just really get on with it so everybody really to be honest.
Q: Have you had many trips to the theatre this year and if so, what has been your favourite?
A: We’ve had a couple of trips, we’ve seen Matilda down in London which was superb. I didn’t know what to expect from [Matilda] I was a little bit unsure, because usually you go to London and you’re like right I want to see A, B and C, but we kind of went down not knowing what to see and Matlida cropped up and I was like go on then and I though it was magnificent, it was really really good. Locally recently we saw, last week actually, Spamalot which is on tour currently and it was hilarious, it was a real real nice show to sit down and really enjoy. I’d heard of it, but never really got into or seen it before so to see it, we were just in stiches it was a real real good show.
U: What would be your dream role in a play or a musical?
SG: Wow. If I had to pick one, I would probably say the role I would love to play the most would be Fagen in Oliver! I love, as well, you know - Bill Sykes or Danny in Grease, but Fagen in Oliver! for me, I think I could really get my teeth into and it’s just a real nice role and it’s an iconic musical as well, generation after generation have seen Oliver! and it think it kind of stands on its own as one of the all time greats, so I think Fagen for me would be the one.
Q: Do you have any essentials when rehearsing?
SG: My script. (Laughs) That’s going to be one of them. Nothing really that I can think of, oh, I do like to take pictures of my kids everywhere I go, I’ve got a couple in my car that always stay with me there, but I think obviously my mobile phone, technology is moving on now, everything is just kind of there really so nothing off the top of my head. Phone’s an essential and a good pair of underpants (Laughs).
Q: So what’s next in the pipeline for you?
A: We’ve got a few things going on, I’m head down with the radio show, I present the breakfast show here in Blackpool, Radio Wave, so I’m looking forward to seeing what 2018 brings for that. I’ll be doing quite a few more live appearances, we do a lot of charity work that we do with Help for Heroes and things, and hopefully just going to bulid a profile locally to be honest with you. If I can get out and about a little bit more I will, but to be honest with you at the minute I’m happy kind of working with Blackpool to you know, grow bigger and bigger to be honest. I think getting my teeth into some of the local stuff here is going to be the way forward.
Tickets here: http://www.wintergardensblackpool.co.uk/events/peter-pan/
Interviewed and transcribed by Anna Jobarteh.