The Glee Club, which transferred to the West End from the Bush, and opens at the Duchess Theatre on April 22, stars David Bamber.
Theatrenow met him at the stage door and snatched a few moments with him before the evening performance.
How much music is there in the play, and what style is it? "There are a number of songs because the six characters involved are part of a part-time singing group. The play covers the period 1961 to 1962 and two singing contests, and the music is essentially 50's and some 40's songs. Rock-and-roll may have begun, technically, with Elvis in '56, but it took a while for what we would call pop music to become mainstream as far as the sort of characters we play are concerned. Their main influences would have been pre-pop."
What sort of character do you play? "My character is called Phil, and unlike the other five he isn't a miner — he's a white-collar worker and the church organist. He is involved, as the play unfolds, in a gay affair that really blows the group apart." You often play gay characters — and got an Olivier for your role in My Night With Reg. Do you ever worry about getting typecast? "No! Work is work, and one definition of being typecast is doing what you do really well — hence being put in certain types of roles. Hopefully people feel for Phil because of his predicament rather than his sexuality."
Did you do much research into the period The Glee Club is set in? "Ironically, although I play the only non-miner in the group, I'm the only one of us who has direct experience of that world and that period. My father was a miner, and as a little boy I went to the pit-head, the showers and so on."
David Bamber's enthusiasm for the play is infectious, and he clearly enjoys the prospect of opening at the Duchess: "It's a lovely little theatre and the set has been redesigned for it, and looks wonderful." His friend and director of My Night With Reg, Roger Michell, had predicted that The Glee Club was West End material. Looks like he was right.
—By Paul Webb Theatrenow