Musical Theatre actor Sam Lupton is probably best known for Being a Little Bit Racist in Avenue Q and Dancing Through Life as Boq in Wicked. Currently rehearsing for a revival of Maltby and Shire’s rarely performed song cycle Starting Here, Starting Now,John Roberts catches up with him during rehearsals for a quick chat about the show.
What have been some of your career highlights so far?
Getting to tour the UK with the first touring production ofAvenue Qwas a huge highlight. I loved the show when it first came to the UK so the chance to tell that lovely story and sing those hilarious songs every night was a dream come true. The puppets are like celebrities around the UK, so we definitely felt like rockstars when we performed with them. I also spent three years withWicked, which was an amazing experience. I made friends for life atWicked.
Where did your love of musical theatre come fromand what influenced you the most in following a musical theatre career?
This is a tough one as I’ve always loved performing and I can’t really remember any specific influences. I took part in youth theatre as a teenager and I was always taken to the theatre to see kids shows as a child, so I suppose my parents are to blame. I’ve always enjoyed singing and constantly was desperate to do the school plays. Theatre has just always been something I have loved!
You are about to star inStarting Here, Starting Nowat the Pheasantry, alongsideCarolyn Maitland(Miss Saigon)andKayleigh McKnight(Bend It Like Beckham).What is the show about and what attracted you to be part of it?
The show is a revue about love, relationships and new beginnings. The music is from the back catalogue of composers Maltby and Shire.I had been aware of their music for a while and enjoyed the sense of character the songs hold. We all play about ten different ‘characters’ in the show, all with different stories. Its very rare one gets to do that in another musical.
Maltby and Shire’sStarting Here, Starting Nowwas first produced at the Manhattan Theatre Club in 1976. What do you thinkis the lasting appeal of the music?
It’s the characters and the stories. People like stories. Whether it’s reading stories in a novel, or the newspaper, watching a play, a film or watching a musical. If the characters and stories are strong, people will be interested forever. Also, the songs are catchy, funky and funny.The stories and songs combinedensure the show’s longevity.
Is there a musical number in the show you’re not performing, but wish you were?
There’s a song called Crossword Puzzle,which is brilliant. It’s funnybut has a certain sadness that is realised towards the end. Kayleigh sings it in the show and she is fantastic.
What is your favourite lyric of the show and why?
There’s a lyric that goes ‘Looking at the room, seeing it anew, watching as the tears cloud my eyes, I’m holding you, isn’t it a beautiful surprise’. It’s from a song called Beautiful, a love ‘duet’ sung between all three of us. So a love trio if you like. I just really like the imagery of that line, I’m pretty sentimental really.
How are rehearsals going? What’s been the biggest challenge for youin regards toStarting Here, Starting Now?
Rehearsals are going well. It’s nice working in such an intimate company. There are three cast and a musical director, so four of us in the rehearsal room. On my last big job we had a cast of over 30,so it’s very different. The biggest challenge is finding the detail in every single character and finding their place in every song. It’s down to us to decide who these people are and how they fit into the story. This is the only way to do service to this brilliant writing!
How does it feel to perform songs that icons such as Barbara Streisand have performed before?
Well as you say she is an icon, she is a legend. We couldn’t possibly replicate her renditions of the music but it’s exciting to be able to be performing some of her iconic material.
As you mentioned, you have performed inWickedandAvenue Q. What are the main differences between performing in a huge theatre and somewhere more intimate like the Pheasantry?
It’s almost like the difference between performing on stage and performing for camera. Performing in intimate venues is much more revealing. There’s nowhere to hide. I love it! There’s a connection with the audience that you don’t get in bigger venues. It’s more of a conversation with the audience, their feedback is immediate. This connection is why people go to the theatre as opposed to just sitting at home watching Netflix.
Why should people come and seeStarting Here, Starting Nowat the Pheasantry?
You should come and see the show because it’s a reflection of modern adult relationships. It celebrates how complicated and messy they are alongside how wonderful it is to be loved. You will certainly see yourself in a number of the characters. Plus the songs are fantastic and you can eat Pizza at the Pheasantry while you watch the show! It really doesn’t get any better than that!