15-year-old Ben Evans from Lower Penn will be taking to our stage this week, as part of the Madness musical OUR HOUSE – this year’s production by Bilston Operatic Company from Tuesday 15 – Saturday 19 November.
Ben will play the lead role of Joe Casey, but it’s already been 5 years ago since he first took a lead role at the Grand ages just 10! “My first role at The Grand was Oliver Twist in Oliver. I have also been in 2 pantomimes there, Cinderella with the Krankies and Snow White with Sam Kane and Linda Lusardi. I have also performed in Half A Sixpence, Footloose, Grease, Fame, Titanic, A Christmas Carol and Hairspray at the Grand and been lucky enough to have played principal roles in some of them. Ben was first inspired to get into theatre having been born into a family who loved the stage. “Showbiz is definitely in the family! My mom started dance at the age of 4 and has sung professionally and my sister started dance and acting at the age of 3, so I followed... I am currently on the Musical Theatre Pathway at BOA [Birmingham Ormiston Academy] studying a Level 2 BTEC, along with 6 other GCSEs.”
Recalling the moment when he was first inspired by a musical, Ben remembers seeing a performance of Billy Elliot in the West End. “I have been lucky enough to have been taken to lots of shows over the years and I enjoy all different sorts of theatre, but I do have really good memories of watching Billy Elliot when I was 10, and being fascinated. After that I performed one of the songs from the show - ‘Electricity’ - in a concert and loved it!” “I thought musical theatre was what I wanted to do initially, but now I am thinking of focussing more towards music, as I have a real passion for it. In my spare time, I am a member of a band called The Icon. We have been fortunate enough to perform at The Cavern in Liverpool a couple of times, and have got lots of gigs lined up. I have discovered my real passion is in music. I play drums, piano, guitar and bass. I write songs and love composing pieces. I am going to audition for LIPA in Liverpool, which is the school for Performing Arts set up by Sir Paul McCartney, who happens to be one of my idols. Saying that, I would love to be in the musical, Jersey Boys. I love the music of Frankie Valli, and I think it would be great to be part of a four-piece harmony group. I have seen the show twice and plan to visit again in London before it closes in March.”
Talking about his role in OUR HOUSE, the character starts at a similar age but progresses to years and situations way beyond Ben’s own. “I am playing Joe Casey, the principal character. He starts off as a 16-year-old school boy and goes through to early twenties. He has to make a huge decision on the night of his 16th birthday that will affect his life and in the show, we see how both eventualities would have played out. It has been very challenging as, not only is he never off stage, but he switches from being a good person to a bad person depending on the path we’re watching all whist undergoing 31 costume changes! It is the most demanding role I have played yet.” “Madness music was played at home from when I was little, and we even play a few Madness tunes in our band! In the show, I love the song ‘Our House’ as it the opening song and introduces everyone, also the audience will all know it. I do also enjoy singing ‘My Girl’ with my pals Tom and Matt – it’s quite a laugh pretending to be drunk in that scene!”
OUR HOUSE runs from Tuesday 15 – Saturday 19 November 2016.