Oliver Savile has been a busy man since his graduation from Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts in 2010. He has graced the West End stage in The Phantom of the Opera, Wicked and Les Miserables; he has toured the UK with Cats and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat and has toured the world with Mamma Mia. He sat down to speak with The Reviews Hub’s Fraser MacDonald about his latest role, which takes him to Aberdeen, to play Bobby in Stephen Sondheim and George Firth’s Company at Aberdeen Arts Centre.
He is immediately chirpy and energetic; clearly excited to get his teeth into his next role. He describes Company as a “mental show”, following the life and relationships of protagonist Bobby, who Savile plays.
Keen not to give too much away, Savile hints that, under the direction of Aberdonian Derek Anderson, this production will offer up something quite different to previous adaptations. He does reveal that the piece has been brought right up to the present day, which has been a surreal experience for the cast.
“It’s so strange, because as we’re going through it, a lot of what’s in the play is so relevant to the modern day – it’s almost like predicting the future 50 years ago.”
Company is oft-cited as the production where Sondheim found his feet, but it’s not particular well known on this side of the pond. Savile doesn’t quite understand why.
“It’s very American, in terms of its setting and its humour, but I don’t really see why it’s still kind of undiscovered here. It was a very innovative piece of theatre for its time; it’s almost ahead of itself. The whole piece is very clever and the music ties in more beautifully with the story than anything I have ever worked on before.”
He is full of praise for his fellow cast members, including Ashleigh Gray, the Scottish lass who has also headlined in a little musical at the Apollo Victoria in London, and Anita Louise Combe.
Savile is clearly chuffed to have secured the role of Bobby;
“It’s really one of the iconic leading male roles. I’m just surprised I’ve had the chance to play him so early on in my life, really. It’s definitely one of the biggest roles I’ve had, even in an intimate venue like Aberdeen Arts Centre. There are about 120 pages in the script and I think I don’t speak in two of them. I’m the polar opposite to Bobby off-stage, so playing him in itself is a challenge that I’m really looking forward to tackling.”
Whilst the draw of the West End is never far from anyone worth their salt in the industry, Savile is passionate about the importance of good quality theatre productions across the wider regions of the UK.
“When you start working professionally, the hub is in London; it’s where theatre is. But to have the opportunity to come to Aberdeen and do something like this is incredible. We’re also catching an audience that might not be able to get down to London for a West End show and we have a star-studded cast to make sure that they’re getting the full experience.”
Savile is no stranger to Aberdeen, having visited on a number of UK tours in recent years. But the appeal for him doesn’t necessarily come from the theatres or architecture.
“For me, what I’m most looking forward to about being back in Aberdeen is the people. Having spent so much of my time in London, it’s a breath of fresh air and the minute you get North of the M25, the audiences are just incredible. Maybe it’s because you can go to the theatre at the drop of a hat in London, but it’s so much more of an experience up here. It feels so much more appreciated and I get so much more of a buzz doing theatre in places like Aberdeen. The audiences just seem to go nuts.”
For a man that appears self-assured in so many ways, the only time he seems to have any hesitation at all is when he’s asked what lies in the future.
“If I had a crystal ball, I would be a very happy man. There are a few things in the pipeline that I can’t quite talk about just now – some really exciting stuff – but until that’s all confirmed my agent would kill me. In the meantime, I’ll be posting all that I can on Twitter so people can find out from there.”
A quick look at his theatrical history tells us that, despite his humility, there will be no shortage of work for Oliver Savile for a good while yet. Nonetheless, his modestly – flying in the face of the bravado of the protagonist he will come to play – is refreshing for someone in an industry so saturated with ego.
With an unashamed love for what he does, and a gratitude to the audience, Savile looks set to impress when the curtain rises on the limited run of Company in Aberdeen.
From the enthusiasm of its leading man, it is clear that this will be an opportunity for Aberdeen Arts Centre to show, as it did with Cabaret in 2016, that regional theatre can attract just as much talent as its West End rivals.
Oliver Savile is appearing in Company at the Aberdeen Arts Centre 1 – 10 February 2018
For more information visit www.aberdeenartscentre.com/ or the box office on: 01224 641122
Image: Pamela Raith