The Last Five Yearstours to Theatre Severn in Shrewsbury thisweek after a successful run in Chester inJuly (read our 4* review here).Michael Thomas Jenkins took time out to speak to The Reviews Hub about the show and his influences.
Where did your love of Musical Theatre come from?
My love for musical theatre first started when I played Nicely Nicely Johnson in Guys and Dolls at School. I went to a pretty rural school on the border of England and Wales, where the productions seemed like the whole community were involved. The choreography of Luck be a Lady is still with me now…and I wouldn’t be lying if I was to say that myself and a few of the lads from the village still bust out a few of the moves.
Describe your first ever audition.
My first audition was pretty low key, it was for a production of Jack the Ripper the musical. Obviously at the grand age of 16 I made all the right choices in audition material, or not! ‘Can you feel the love tonight?’ was apparently not a great choice, nevertheless I ended up playing Dan Mendoza and having a great time.
Who inspires you?
I am continuously inspired by the incredible Ramin Karimloo, his acting through song and sheer spine-tingling vocals leave me captivated. Musical Theatre aside, another one of my inspirations is The Boss (aka Bruce Springsteen) for the same reasons really, whether it’s seeing him live or watching vintage videos on YouTube I’m transfixed by the incredible story.
You’ve had a varied career so far – what have been your career highlights?
My career has become even more varied recently, this summer I took on a nationwide Ad Campaign for Strongbow, which meant my face was printed on billboards all over the UK including all of London’s tube stations…that was rather fun but the highlight so far has to be getting stuck into this fantastic role.
For anyone who hasn’t seen it, could you describe The Last Five Years?
Well, The Last Five years is pretty much a story about two career-driven young lovers, who are met with real struggles. The story unfolds from two different perspectives and in two different orders which makes their stories even more real and relatable.
What are you looking forward to most about doing the show again?
The orchestra – the group of musicians we have on this show are just incredible! Every note is played as passionately as JRB intended, the orchestra is almost like a third character in my eyes, pulling the plot along and expressing Jamie’s and Cathy’s feelings, sometimes when they can’t quite do it for themselves.
Is there a musical number in the show you’re not performing, but wish you were?
Still Hurting – although I couldn’t do it the justice Laura Coard (read Laura’s interview here) does.
What is your favourite lyric of the show and why?
‘Have I mentioned today, how lucky I am to be in love with you’ – I adore this lyric for its pure simplicity, accompanied with the melody – it really shows the audience how genuine Jamie is (or was…).
What’s been the biggest challenge for you in regards to The Last Five Years?
It’s a simple one but just remember the three different characters and lyrics Jamie portrays in The Schmuel Song… What am I saying? It’s only 7 minutes 34 seconds!
What advice would you give to someone wanting to work in the industry?
Surround yourself with people who are as passionate as yourself.
Finally – what’s your favourite musical?
That’s a really tricky one, I may have to contemplate this over a Peroni…today it’s still JRB’s Parade, but tomorrow it could quite easily be Billy Elliot!