Interview: Ex-Eastender Sam Attwater reveals influence of Dame Edna ahead of Wimbledon show
Sam Attwater, former Dancing on Ice champion and Eastenders actor, stars in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers next month. He spoke with Lauren May.
Lauren May: How have rehearsals been going for Seven Brides for Seven Brothers?
Sam Attwater: Really, really well.
My head is actually spinning as I have so many lines to learn.
But I'm focussing on getting it right and was actually up working on the script at 6.00am this morning - on a day when I wasn't called to rehearsals - trying to get off the book!
LM: What can audiences expect from Seven Brides for Seven Brothers?
SA: Firstly, a complete WOW factor with the dancing.
The tricks the dancers are coming out with are jaw-dropping; they are literally doing backward somersaults off tables.
You see this style of dance and energy in America but not often here.
I don't have to do much dancing so I can just stand back and watch with total amazement. Secondly, there is a brilliant new set for the UK.
This version of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers is going to look fantastic.
And thirdly there is even a new song, Where Were You? And I get to sing it.
LM: What appealed to you most about the show?
SA: I had done it at college - The Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts - but I only had a bit part in that production.
The American director, Patti Colombo, is crazy but exciting - she won't mind me saying that.
She has deliberately cast the show really young.
She has given us all so much research and background material.
I didn't realise families literally walked across America for the prospect of free land.
They were attacked by Indians and there was disease.
Children often had to bury their parents by the side of the road when cholera struck.
That's why Adam ends up looking after his younger brothers.
It's why the characters are quite hard and driven.
LM: Are you looking forward to performing in Wimbledon? Have you visited before?
SA: I did the panto with Dame Edna two years ago.
I was Dick Whittington. Wimbledon is actually one of my favourite theatres.
At Italia Conti we always did our end of year shows there.
I grew up in Guildford and used to come to see shows here often.
LM: Who are your stage idols and who has been your biggest influence?
SA: There's no one person who's been a stage idol but I've always looked up to people I’ve worked with.
Barry Humphries (Dame Edna's alter-ego) was really influential.
He was 77 years old doing 12 shows a week, and never missed a show.
He was unbelievably professional; he knew the names of everyone in the cast and company and everyone working in the theatre.
A real gent.
Another oldie I was amazed by was Des O'Connor when I did Dreamboats and Petticoats together in the West End.
He was 80 years young.
One Saturday night he had two front teeth knocked out playing with his young son. He had them capped and was back in the show on Monday night.
I know younger people who would have taken a week off.
I'd like to be still working at 80.
I'm a jobbing actor in it for the long run.
LM: What has been your biggest career challenge to date?
SA: Every job is a new challenge: from a TV soap (EastEnders) to big musicals (Seven Brides, Rocky Horror) and then Dancing on Ice.
That was a massive physical challenge and against everything I had learned in training when I was younger.
That came about because I went for Strictly and they'd already cast Scott Maslen and Kara Tointon from EastEnders.
Dancing on Ice approached me.
It was a leap of faith to do it and a great challenge.
I believe it's harder than dancing on Strictly because as a celebrity male competitor you have to execute incredible lifts and look after your professional partner.
LM: You recently starred in Richard O’Brien’s 40th Anniversary production of The Rocky Horror Show as Brad. Were you a big fan of the show before and how did you find the experience?
SA: I was a fan and saw the film.
I’d seen previous productions with my mate Hayley Flaherty in and really wanted to play Brad.
I was pleased and excited to be part of the 40th anniversary.
In 20 years I want to play the narrator - he's got the best role, controlling the audience!
LM: Are you still skating having won Dancing on Ice in 2011.
SA: It's awful to say but I don't.
It comes down to time.
My fiancé, Vicky Ogden, is pro-skater from show.
Any spare time we get together we want to spend time together not at the rink where she works!.
LM: What are the top three things on your ‘bucket list’.
SA: 1. Get married - and that's happening next year
2. Have children
3. Star in a movie. I’ve done every type of performing, from cruise chips, to Theatre in Education drama in schools, the West End, TV reality shows, pantos, even Bollywood films, but I've not made a big movie - and I'd love it to be a period piece rather than an action film.
LM: What do you have planned next? What are your career ambitions?
SA: The movie I mentioned before or a six-part TV drama.
I want to keep working and eventually have my grandchildren watching me.
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, New Wimbledon Theatre, The Broadway, October 7 to 12. £12.90 - £38.90 www.atgtickets.com/wimbledon.
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