Actor Peter Prentice has most recently been treading the boards in Titanic The Musical, opposite Claire Machin, who is set to star in Robbie Williams’ new musical The Girls in the new year. I chatted to Peter about his career so far as well as whether he would be keen to return to Titanic in the future…
Thanks for talking to Break A Leg, Peter. Starting off with Titanic, were you familiar with the musical before you appeared in it and what were the highlights of the show for you?
I was vaguely aware of the piece before I was in Titanic, but only because of the great things I’d heard about Thom Southerland’s production at the Southwark Playhouse. The main highlight of the show for me was being married to Claire Machin. We’d never worked together before and that’s always a scary thing when you have to create a partnership. We had such a great rehearsal period and were still finding new things to play between us to the very end.
What was your favourite song and favourite scene in the show?
Oh now that’s hard. I’m going to have to narrow it down to two of each: Favourite song(s) would be Lady’s Maid, which was led so wonderfully by Victoria Serra with such heart and passion – and The Proposal/The Night was Alive for the sheer beauty of the music and lyrics combined with the brilliant voices of Matthew Crowe and Niall Sheehy.
Favourite scene(s) would be the argument that the Beane’s have towards the end of Act 1 – for a scene that was written as a front-cloth ‘set change filler’ for the original Broadway production it was so packed with this (in our case) middle-aged couple’s tension and struggles – and the scene towards the end of Act 2 when the majority of the men are left on the ship looking out to sea at the life boats retreating as the ship is slowly sinking. The silence in the theatre at that point was extraordinary.
Would you be keen to return to it if the opportunity arose?
I’m not sure. Probably not as Edgar (unless it was with Claire again) I’d happily see what I could find with some of the other characters, my days of playing Barrett are long gone though!
What led you to become an actor?
Other than a brief idea about being a marine biologist there’s never (since the age of 4) been anything else on the cards. I credit my English teacher, Tim Nightingale, at school and both Anthony Tuckey and Gerry Tebbutt at the Wolsey Youth Theatre with really encouraging and guiding me early on though.
What do you feel are the highs of a career in the arts?
The opportunity to do something different in every job you do. A friend asked me after Titanic had finished “Why did you agree to do that part? It’s so ‘not you’” and my only answer could be “Precisely because of that.” We’re still friends!
What’s next for you?
Who knows! I have very rarely gone from one job to another over the almost 25 years I’ve been an actor. I’m a father of a 16 year old and a 4 year old so I’ve got plenty to keep me occupied until the next job comes my way.
Finally, any advice for budding performers?
There are going to be good jobs that you may not necessarily enjoy at the time and less good one that you have an absolute ball on. Every job has something that you can use to help you in the next one or the one after that whether it’s obvious at the time or not. For me the mark of a good job is coming away from it having made a new friend who you keep in touch with for more than just a year. Oh, and remember that, as humans, we can’t play a “don’t.” So if, when in rehearsals or during a run, you find yourself thinking (let’s say) “I don’t want to be angry at this point” remember you cannot play “not angry.” You can play a myriad other things that will be “not angry” it’s up to you to decide what the specific one is.
Huge thanks to Peter for a great interview, looking forward to seeing what 2017 brings for you!