Clive Rowe, the actor and singer who has the distinction of being the only person to be asked to perform twice in the Donmar's "Donmar Divas" series, has returned to the role of Amos Hart in Chicago, the long-running Kander and Ebb musical at the Adelphi.
Although Oldham-born Rowe says that the Hackney Empire is his favorite London theatre - "I love doing panto there and there's a wonderful atmosphere at the theatre - very welcoming" - he is also fond of the Adelphi, where as a drama student at Guildhall he earned extra money by being an usher.
His repertoire is enviably wide - taking in Gershwin - "one of my favourite composers" - musicals as well as "straight" roles in Shakespeare, regular performances in panto, rave reviews at the National (Guys and Dolls and Peter Pan), opera (The Magic Flute for Opera Northern Ireland) and a wide variety of radio and television parts.
Speaking of his experience at the Donmar, he says that in some ways it was more challenging than the major stage parts that he has become well known for: "In a musical or play you have the imaginary forth wall between yourself and the audience: in cabaret you react directly to the audience, they are there only a few feet away, and when you talk in between the songs it's you talking, rather than someone else's lines - that can be a bit daunting." At the Adelphi he's definitely part of a team, but plays a loner - Amos Hart, the done-down husband of Roxie. Does he have any trouble playing such a downbeat character? "No! I think Amos is a great role. As a character he may not be exactly in the MENSA class and some people might think the way Roxie takes from him the whole time, just used him really, he's a bit of a schmuck, but on the other hand he's very gentle, very loving, and in the midst of all these cynical, self-obsessed people I think he's the only really decent character that the audience can identify with. Roxie, Velma and Billy are great fun and brilliant self-publicists but are entirely in it for themselves, whereas Amos has a big heart, and people take to that".