How long have you been involved with the National Youth Music Theatre? "About eight years. I started when I was 11, and now I've just turned 20 — last Sunday. Nineteen is the oldest that you can be when auditioning, and I just made it in time!"
The NYMT seems to have produced a fair number of stars, including Jamie Bell, Jude Law and Jonny Lee Miller. What do you think most people get out of it? "It's a great training in the performing arts, but it’s also got wider benefits. For young people who've never been away from home, it's a great experience to get away, with people of their own age, when they are touring or performing away from where they live. Last year, for example, we took this production of Oklahoma! to Belfast.
"There's also the fact of learning social skills and confidence. Some people are as shy as a goose when they start with the NYMT. By the time they leave, they can't shut up! Also, because the NYMT operates in school holidays it's open to everyone with a love of musical theatre. It's certainly not the case that everyone wants to be an actor. In fact, I'm a rarity, in that I knew from a very early age that acting was going to be my life. Some of the people in the production are going to medical college or law college or whatever. I'm now at drama school — at Central — and loving it."
You've had excellent reviews for the show, and Oklahoma! is in any case a much-loved show, as Trevor Nunn's National Theatre production proved a few years ago. What's the secret of its success? "It's a very dramatic piece, with a strong story and characters. It has a very effective mix of comedy and tragedy, and I think this production, in particular, has brilliant direction and choreography. Overall, then, it makes for a very good evening out."
When you've finished with this show on April 26, do you have anything else lined up? "Yes, I'll be in a new Alan Ayckbourn musical called Orvin, which he's directing as well as having written, and which will be staged for two weeks in August at his theatre in Scarborough. Working with him is a huge opportunity, and the show is great fun. It's basically about a Greek myth that goes wrong in the first three minutes when a servant, Orvin, arrives late with his King's sword. His king is therefore killed by a rival one, and Orvin, a bit of a weed, has to take over in his place." Presumably, having played Curly, you won't be playing Orvin? "No! I play a baddy called Dedrick. It's a sort of Alan Rickman-style character, based, too, on Basil Rathbone, who played the evil Sheriff of Nottingham in the old Errol Flynn film of ‘The Adventures of Robin Hood.’ And there's a very Robin Hood sword fight involved! I usually get to play heroes and good guys, so it's a change and a challenge for me to play the bad one!"
Are you going to continue to concentrate on musical theatre roles? "I'd like to play those sort of roles in future, but I'm also increasingly interested in acting in straight plays. That's one of the things that happened when I started at Drama School. By definition you're exposed to different ideas and influences, and your ideas change over the years in any case. So I'm much more interested in acting, and when I took part in a production of The Seagull, it was a welcome change to be on stage without opening my mouth and singing!"
Dominic Tighe can be seen in Oklahoma! at the Peacock Theatre, Portugal Street (off Kingsway) at 7PM evenings (last performance Saturday, April 26) and at 3 PM on April 23, 24 and 26.