Ben Adams found fame as the lead singer in the pop group A1, but since then has been writing and producing for various artists, as well as working on his own music, starring in the UK tour of Flashdance and writing the new musical Eugenius! Ben and I had a chat about all of those things and more…
You’ve had such a varied career, what have some of your highlights been?
Gosh, I’ve had so many highlights, it’s quite hard to choose just a few of them. I think I’m living through my ultimate highlight right now. I’ve always wanted to write a musical and for it to be going on in the West End right now is ridiculous, I mean, who gets to do that?! And the fact that it has gone down so well is like a dream, so I’m actually living through it right now.
Aside from that, I’ve travelled the world, I’ve won BRIT Awards, MTV Awards and Smash Hits Awards and had number one singles – just so many things that I can’t even pinpoint one thing… or even a few things that would be highlights. There’s just so many and I’ve had a great life.
That is a pretty good life…
I know! I feel like I’ve smashed 10 lifetimes into one. I’m 36 which is kinda old to some people, but it’s been amazing.
What attracted you to this production of Flashdance?
Well, I’d been in the studio writing for other artists for the first six months of last year, and as much as I love doing that and it is a lot of fun, I did kind of feel that I was getting itchy feet and wanted to do more performing for a while.
Every time musical theatre things had come my way I’d always turned them down because I thought they looked like a lot of hard work. I also had a lot of other things going on at the time, so I didn’t really have time to do it. Then this came at a period where Eugenius! wasn’t on until January and I had a good six-month slot where I could try it and see if I enjoy doing musical theatre.
I remember Flashdance from when I was growing up and you know it’s very 80s inspired and I love that music. So I thought I’d give it a go. I was only contracted until December but I loved it so much and they wanted me to continue with it so I signed up to carry on until October .
Are you anything like Nick Hurley?The character of Nick is the rich kid who doesn’t really have too many responsibilities. There are probably elements of the character which I can relate to. I mean I’ve never owned a steel works so that’s not something I can affiliate with but he’s not too dissimilar from myself really. It’s not an amazingly tricky part for me to play where I have to change my entire personality.
Other than yourself, who would you like to see play Nick Hurley?Oh gosh, who would I like to see play Nick… that’s a tricky question. What about… I have absolutely no idea! Okay, what about Warwick Davis cause he’d probably do it completely different to me. It would be really fun to see what his take on it would be!
Who in the show would you say is most like their character?I guess Carol Ball as Hannah cause she’s got a lot of experience with dance and acting and a lot of knowledge that she passes on in real life like her character does to Alex in the show. Jo [Clifton] and I probably act out a lot of stuff that is pretty similar to our characters as well- it’s pretty well cast!
Your new show Eugenius is a huge hit, why do you think audiences are loving it so much?I think because it taps into a really feel-good side of everybody. You don’t have to love comic books, you don’t have to love 80s music, you don’t have to know anything about that era to love it. It’s for those people of course cause there’s a lot of references to it but it not specifically for those people. It’s just full of joy.
Of course there are different reasons for going to the theatre, but you know if you want to go to something really thought-provoking and dark then don’t go see Eugenius but if you want something to leave you joyful and elated about life in this miserable world that we live in and two hours of escapism then come.
I don’t think I’ve seen anyone walk out of Eugenius without a massive grin on their face and that’s what it was about for me and Chris writing it. We had such a brilliant time and to see that energy being seconded by the cast and then the audiences it’s just amazing.
The show has a goodie and a baddie (or two); if you were in a comic book would you rather be the hero or the villain?Well in everything I’m cast in I always seem to play the goodie. I always play the hero, you know the Robin Hood… or Nick Hurley, but I always look at the baddies and see how much fun they seem to be having. Ian Hughes and Cameron Blakely who play the villains in Eugenius have so much fun with their parts, not that the others don’t, but there’s something fun about playing a baddie.
Sadly Eugenius is closing on the 3rd, what’s your biggest dream for the future of it?It’s so crazy to think that in a weeks time it closes when there’s so much love for the show. My biggest dream, in a similar way to The Rocky Horror Picture Show is that it has a huge life and it lives on, not just in the UK but all over the world. People have been coming over from all different countries who are wanting to put it on all over so that’s exciting.
We just have to be careful and make sure that we do everything properly and take our time to make sure that every single production of it in the future is as good as it is now. We don’t want to cut corners and we want the casting to be amazing.
One of my favourite things about it is doing things that are purposefully shit! Like when you have the babies at the start, I love that there’s the crappy UFO flying across and Kevin the Robot looks like he’s made of cardboard- those things are great. It’s that same way that I felt when I saw Rocky Horror because those things are knowingly done shit… if that makes any sense?!
It’s very self-aware, it’s not trying to be a big budget thing. It’s just there as a whole bunch of fun and I love that and wouldn’t want to lose that.
What’s a fun fact people may not know about you?I will always have an olbas oil bottle in my pocket or beside the stage. I’m absolutely addicted to it to a point where if I don’t have it I’ll probably have a panic attack!
If you could go back to any era, when would you go to and why?Probably the 80s! It was such a fun time that was so flamboyant and wasn’t about being cool or trendy. You could just do anything you wanted and the movies were great, the music was great and it was such a brilliant era so I’d probably go back there.
What’s your best piece of advice for someone aspiring to be in the theatre industry?Create your own luck. Be in the right place at the right time and learn your craft and when you go up for auditions make sure you know it like the back of your hand- that’s what they’re looking for. I’ve been on both sides of the table, auditioning for stuff and auditioning people and it makes such a difference when someone comes in and just commands the lines and songs they’ve been given. It gives the people casting them the confidence that they’re going to do an amazing job.
A huge thank you to Ben for taking the time to do this interview. Flashdance is touring until October 20th and Eugenius is at The Other Palace until March 3rd.