Actor/singer/writer/dad Nadim Naaman takes a moment to answer 10 Questions for 10 Years most thoughtfully indeed.
Where were you 10 years ago?
Ten years ago I was experiencing unemployment for the first time! I finished an 18-month run of The Sound of Music at the Palladium in February, and didn’t start my next gig until the November. That was James and The Giant Peach at the Watermill. That nine months taught me a lot. I made a voiceover reel and became a private tutor of English, and began learning how to produce my own work – cabarets, concerts, writing etc. I don’t tutor anymore, but much of the work I do today I owe to the experience of being out of work back then. I quickly realised how you could be in a West End show one minute, and the next day, nothing.
Best show you’ve seen in the last 10 years?
A close call between Spring Awakening on Broadway and Hamilton in the West End.
What has been your professional highlight of the last 10 years?
Sweeney Todd (in the pie shop). I sang ‘Johanna’ stood on a table, and Stephen Sondheim was sat directly by my feet. As the song finished, he said ‘bravo!’. That’s as good as it gets. I’d be surprised if anything like that ever happens to me again. I also have to mention playing Raoul in the 30th anniversary cast of Phantom. The show has been a huge part of my career, having spent two spells of two years at Her Majesty’s. I joined as second cover, was then offered first cover, and then returned to play the role after a three year break. It felt like a ground-breaking moment, to have worked my way through the company like that – like it was the perfect culmination of a decade of work. And then there’s Broken Wings, the first show that I’ve written and seen professionally staged. Ah, this question is too hard!
Top flavour of interval ice-cream?
Cookies and Cream. If they don’t have that, anything along the lines of Butterscotch or Salted Caramel.
What show do you wish theatres would give a rest for a few years?
I think as long as new productions are doing something original, I am happy to see the classics get revived. I think there was a spell where we had Sweeney Todd after Sweeney Todd, and Guys and Dolls after Guys and Dolls. But in reality, audience members probably only see one, or maybe two of those revivals. Prior to this year, my answer might have been West Side Story. It’s my favourite musical, but I disliked the fact that you could only do it with the original choreography. But look at what they’ve just done in Manchester.
Name someone who you think is a really underappreciated talent (in the world of theatre)?
Joe Davison. His musical arrangements are exquisite and (I think) have a sophistication that is rarely seen in musical theatre.
Elphaba or Glinda?
What is one thing that you think would help theatre survive and/or thrive the next ten years?
I have two answers here.
1. Transfer more Regional, Fringe and Off-West End shows into the big theatres. In my opinion, the West End is beginning to feel like a Broadway transfer house. Take a show like Six. I know it’s exceptional, but there must be other shows across the country that are of a similar standard, not being seen by audiences. We need more Sixes. I think this process is more natural in America – most shows on Broadway, even the likes of Hamilton and Wicked, begin life elsewhere first.
2. We still need more stories that are set in other parts of the world. The musical theatre canon is largely based in Europe or the USA. Shows set in other parts of the world are the easiest way to foster an authentic and representative diversity, both on stage and off. People need to go to the theatre and see themselves represented in shows. Plenty has been done in this regard in recent years, but there is still a very long way to go.
Which is your favourite theatre?
Theatre Royal Haymarket. I’ve been lucky to work in it twice, and I think that auditorium is the most beautiful that I’ve seen.
Can you say anything about what’s to come for you, (in the next ten years or otherwise)?
I took a small step back after Phantom and By Jeeves, to concentrate on my most important role – being a Dad. But now my girls are growing fast and settling into their routines, I’m very much back on the audition trail, so hopefully I’ll find my way back onto a stage in the near future. In the meantime, I’ve been focusing lots on my singing and concert work, so there’s more of that to come over the next few months. And we are taking Broken Wings on a Middle Eastern tour, beginning this July
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