‘If you get your telephone out, I’m heading to lose it’: Charlie Stemp, Britain’s musicals megastar | Theatre

When Charlie Stemp signed his agreement for the West Stop transfer of the musical Insane for You, 1 of its ailments was an ice bath in his dressing home. “The producers have been astounding,” he suggests, and tells of how the Gillian Lynne theatre experienced to be refurbished to get it in.

It was not, as it sounds, a diva-like need akin to a bathtub of orange Smarties. It was very important to his substantial-electrical power flip as wannabe dancer Bobby – a section that calls for him to be on phase for the majority of the musical, dancing almost everything from ballet to tap to fashionable. He dazzled in the purpose in the course of the musical’s original operate at Chichester pageant theatre, and the ice tub observed him by it.

“I need to have to ice my muscles soon after the demonstrate,” says Stemp, contemporary-confronted immediately after a morning’s rehearsals at the studios of English Countrywide Ballet. In the guide-up to its opening in Chichester, he worked 6 times a 7 days above 6 weeks to get his portion to its polished point out. On top rated of that, he was undertaking in the West End’s Mary Poppins every single night. That’s wherever the ice bath proved invaluable. “Without wanting to present off too much, it is the equal of an athlete – like a footballer – icing their legs immediately after a video game, we have to do the exact. Mainly because my job is fairly hefty I’ll have an ice bathtub for 10 minutes. It just will get the blood flowing close to your system.”

If the bathtub was essential for winding down, revving up has in no way been a trouble, he claims, nor working in fifth equipment. Stemp, in simple fact, speaks of having an “unimaginable” quantity of electricity. “I’ve by no means sat nonetheless. If I’m worn out, it is even additional so. Alan, who is the conductor of the exhibit, normally claims to me, ‘I can often notify when you’re exhausted since you get speedier.’”

Susan Stroman, who choreographed the unique manufacturing of Nuts for You in 1992 and is also directing this revival, shaped the dance routines all over Stemp’s abilities. “She has been so good at observing my vitality and incorporating it into the exhibit. She explained, ‘Let’s modify the show to cater to my strengths.”

Four months quick of his 30th birthday, Stemp has distinguished himself as a scarce expertise in musical theatre, garnering Olivier award nominations for his performances in Half a Sixpence and Mary Poppins, and earning comparison to Fred Astaire.

He tries not to check out the film of the demonstrate he is in, where there is one, especially if he’s enjoying a role manufactured famed by an additional actor. But Bert was one more matter: he grew up idolising Dick Van Dyke in the position and knew Mary Poppins within out. “He’s the rationale I commenced undertaking. My mum applied to explain to me off for putting the broom up the chimney.”

Stemp realized early on he wished to conduct. “I grew up watching Norman Wisdom films with my granddad,” he states, and afterwards, Lee Evans. “When I’m on stage, I’m generally attempting to make persons laugh.”

Music and dance guy: Stemp as Bobby Youngster in Crazy For You. Photograph: Tristram Kenton/The Guardian

Born in London in 1993, he was a fantastically active baby who liked football, rugby, judo. “Dancing was an additional outlet for releasing some of the electrical power.” It took above, and the authentic dream was to get the job done for Matthew Bourne, but the journey into skilled dance was not created straightforward for him. “The British university program is not quite accommodating for boys who want to do dance. I wasn’t permitted to do dance GCSE. If a school says boys simply cannot dance, what are boys who like dancing expected to do?”

That gendered prejudice is however greatly ingrained nowadays. “I have discussions with dads of young boys who say of their sons’ dancing, ‘We’ll cease him shortly and football will be the following matter.’ But we’re sitting at English National Ballet – and the power and toughness that the boys have to have in these rooms surpasses that of a soccer participant, without having dilemma.”

Stemp was a huge, loud personality and began to show symptoms of upset at the university, in which he was marked out as various. Thankfully his mom heard about a area theatre faculty, Belcanto Academy, and enrolled him. He thrived, but would however modify out of his dance dresses following courses so he was not mocked on the way household. “Of program I couldn’t get a bus in my ballet tights. Now I’d do it with delight, but fitting in when you are that age is so essential. Everyone’s journey is various – mine will not be as distressing as some other men’s.”

He got a scholarship to Laine Theatre Arts in Surrey, and his very first task, aged 20, was as Monkey No 3 in Wicked. He has labored on musicals ranging from an worldwide tour of Mamma Mia to Broadway’s Hello there, Dolly! Wanting out from these phases, he has an actor’s eye view of audience conduct – which is a matter that has strike the headlines in the latest times. He has questioned people to place their telephones away though in character, and at times resorted to much more radical interventions.

“If you get your cell phone out, I’m likely to shed it. It’s so rude. But I see it just about every display. I bought into so a great deal difficulties after. We were in Greece with Mamma Mia, in the final dance situation, and anyone had their cellphone right in entrance of me. So I just grabbed it and went off the stage.”

Stemp thinks accountability does not lie with audiences alone, though. “It’s up to producers and management to make it crystal clear in advance of the clearly show starts that it’s not correct to sing, or to do this or that. We have to support guideline audiences simply because if not, if you have long gone to a jukebox musical like Mamma Mia and sung each individual tune and then go to The Bodyguard, for example, why would not you assume you can do that there too?”

In the situation of the latter display, the delinquent conduct was evidently fuelled by drunkenness, provides Stemp, which he also sees a great deal. “My work is to attempt and make this the most fantastic demonstrate I can. As soon as another person else is influencing that, it is the most infuriating sensation, for the reason that there’s not a great deal I can do.”

Over and above Nuts for You, are there roles he has his sights established on? “All of them,” he says, and then, “To be honest, regardless of what roles occur my way, as very long as I’m satisfied.” Would he still like to function with Matthew Bourne? “Yeah, as long as I get my ice bathtub.”