Clacton bound Casualty actor and West Star Lee Mead interviewed
- Credit: Archant
It’s been a great week for West End star and Casualty actor Lee Mead when I catch him during a break from filming. He’s signed on to continue playing nurse Lofty for another year and just heard he’s been nominated for best newcomer at this year’s National Television Awards.
“I was quite shocked actually and really chuffed. They’re big awards so it’s just nice to be recognised,” says the singer, returning to his musical roots with a string of concerts, including a visit to Clacton’s West Cliff Theatre November 16.
“I’ve been trying to break into TV for about four years, unfortunately in this country it seems harder to make that transition (from the stage) whereas in America you could be a leading man on Broadway then you’d be doing a TV drama or a film. I was down to the final parts for (roles in) Waterloo Road, Robin Hood, a lot of TV dramas but because I had very minimal experience (just) a lot of stage work and musical theatre it was hard to break that barrier.
“I was very grateful to be cast in Casualty. I’m really happy here,” adds Mead, who shot to fame after winning the West End role of Joseph in the BBC show Any Dream Will Do.
He’s a busy man right now. When he’s not filming from seven in the morning to seven at night most days in Cardiff, he’s squeezing in a gig every few weeks, working on his new album and preparing for pantomime. That’s when he’s not spending weekends with his daughter with ex Denise van Outen.
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“It’s quite full on... It’s been quite nice actually, I like being busy but its keeping that balance between having a life as well,” laughs Mead, originally from nearby Southend and has family in Clacton.
“The tour takes a lot of preparation, there are more than 20 numbers in the show; there are stories, you’ve got rehearsals. Once it’s up and running its fine. I’m pretty much two thirds of the way through the tour andit’s gone down really well. I’m playing smaller venues I haven’t really played before which is quite nice.”
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Talking about the resurgence of drama in the era of reality TV, I wonder if he’d ever be tempted into the jungle or on to the dancefloor?
“Because I’ve gone through that experience already I think maybe that was enough for me,” Meed laughs. “It was the lion’s den really, having to go out to 10million people a week and be judged by the public via a phone vote and by the panel. It’s quite a daunting experience but exciting experience at the same time.
“I’m not a snob, I’m quite happy to watch I’m a Celebrity... I’ve had talks with Dancing on Ice, that kind of thing and I’ve declined. It’s very different for me, prior to Any Dream Will Do I’d been working and training for years to sing and act. It wasn’t me going to the programme, it was a role I wanted to play (and) I never expected to win. For me, first and foremost it’s about the project.”
Which leads us on to his latest album, a fresh take on the songs from classic musical films like Guys and Dolls, Singing in the Rain, South Pacific; out next summer.
“I’ve been asked for a long time why I never released a record of songs from musical theatre. I felt it had been done so many times and done well. My musical passion came from great films; it wasn’t going to the theatre because it was like a once-a-year trip because it was very expensive.
“It came to me that it would be really nice to make a record of the 1940s and 1950s film era which hasn’t really been done that much. As a solo artist I don’t know many who have released a record or done a tour of that music which I grew up watching,” says Mead, who has also starred in Wicked and Legally Blonde.
“I sat down with my producer Mason Neely... I want it to be really stylish and authentic so there’ll be songs people will know like Luck be a Lady; I also want numbers that are new to the ear as well. There will be modern and different arrangements...”
Clacton audiences can expect four or five numbers from next year’s tour, alongside classics such as Any Dream Will Do, Dancing Through Life, selections from Les Miserables, Phantom of the Opera and Jesus Christ Superstar, a selection of personal favourites from his three solo albums and more.
“There’s nothing quite like live performance and I’m thrilled I can make some time in my current acting schedule to re-connect with theatre audiences. The band is superb and it will be great to be singing once again,” he says.