DEBUT OF THE MONTH: GHOST's Richard Fleeshman
Richard Fleeshman is currently making his Broadway debut in Ghost the Musical. The show, featuring an original score by rock legends Dave Stewart and Glen Ballard, and a book by the Oscar-winning screenwriter Bruce Joel Rubin, opened on April 24th at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre. Fleeshman reprises the role of Sam Wheat which he originated in both the West End and world premier Manchester productions. Set in modern day New York City, GHOST is a timeless fantasy about the power of love.
Fleeshman first came to the public's attention as a youngster, when he played Craig Harris in "Coronation Street." Following the series, the musician, singer/songwriter signed with Universal Records and released his debut album. He went on to complete three stadium tours supporting Sir Elton John around the UK and Europe. He has also collaborated with Sir Elton, writing and performing the soundtrack of 'All the Small Things.' In 2010, Richard made his West End debut playing Warner as part of the original cast of Legally Blonde.
In a recent chat with BWW, Fleeshman spoke about his Broadway debut experience and how he literally makes magic happen every night on stage.
You began your career at a very young age in the popular British TV series 'Coronation Street.' What were those early years like?
They were pretty crazy to be honest. And probably would have been crazier were I not so young. I was about 12 when I started and if I had been slightly older, being so well known and so famous might have been more daunting and more terrifying. But because I was so young I just took it in stride. Being a kid, I don't think I was fazed by it. I kind of just let it wash over me and it was an amazing experience.
From Coronation Street you went on to tour with Elton John. How did that come about?
Well I left "Coronation Street" to pursue other things and one of those things was to be a musician singer/songwriter. So I did that and I signed with Universal Records and I released an album and Elton heard the album and invited me on tour. I was his Opening Act for three tours around Europe.
Did you remain in touch?
Yes, absolutely. He emailed me the other day. He is so supportive and has remained a really close friend.
What was the audition process like for GHOST in the UK?
Well I was doing Legally Blonde at the time and I went to the audition like anything else and I didn't really know too much about the project. And then after the process went on and on and I kept going back, I found out more about it. At that point, Glen Ballard and Dave Stewart were involved and eventually I just desperately wanted the part. And then I went to the final audition and two days later I got the phone call that I got it.
Were you familiar with the movie at all?
I was familiar but I wasn't overly familiar. I made a conscious decision to watch it initially. But since getting the part and since doing the show over a year and a half now, me and Caissie (Levy) who plays Molly, we avoid it like the plague now. I think it would throw us off so much seeing similarities in the scenes and words that we're so familiar with, so we don't watch it anymore.
Do you find that American audiences are more familiar with the film than British audiences?
Well we heard a statistic that apparently "Ghost" was number one at the box office in England till Titanic, I think knocked it off. So yeah, it was huge in the UK.
I understand that you had an accident during the rehearsal process for GHOST.
Yeah, I did. I got hit by a car actually. It was pretty crazy. It was two weeks into the rehearsal process and it was a hit and run.
Were you on a bike?
No, I was on the pavement, just walking. I was with a couple of the cast from the London show. I didn't want to go to hospital because that was like almost admitting something was wrong. In the back of my head I was thinking, 'if anything is wrong, I might lose this job.' I actually broke my leg in two places and had an operation that night and was in hospital for two days. The doctor said I wouldn't be walking around for eight to ten weeks and I said 'well we open in seven weeks so that's not possible!' And then the producers got me the best doctors and we managed to get me on stage in time.