BWW Interview: Layton Williams Discusses EVERYBODY'S TALKING ABOUT JAMIE
Layton Williams first appeared on a West End stage as Billy Elliot at the Victoria Palace Theatre in 2007.
He's also been seen on screen in Beautiful People and Bad Education; on tour in Hairspray and Rent; and most recently in Kiss Me, Kate at Sheffield's Crucible Theatre.
He now leads the West End cast of Everybody's Talking About Jamie, and spoke to BroadwayWorld about stepping into the role of Jamie New.
What made you want to become a performer?
That's always a funny question for me, because there wasn't one particular moment. I didn't know I wanted to be a performer until I found myself on stage in Billy Elliot. It was during my first show that I thought "This is what I want to do".
How did you get involved with Everybody's Talking About Jamie?
Twelve years later, after running around doing various tours, lots of shows and theatre - which has all been a ball - this just came up!
You never know when a lead role is going to come along. You have to grab it when it does, so I jumped at the opportunity to play Jamie.
Any moments in the show that you particularly enjoy performing each night?
I really love the opening number "And You Don't Even Know It". It gets you right into Jamie's head.
I also really enjoy "Ugly in This Ugly World" after Pritti's reprise of "It Means Beautiful". That's a really nice moment to play.
Do you approach stage and screen projects differently?
Absolutely. You have to approach them differently because they have different processes. The rehearsal process in theatre in a lot longer - although for this show it was all quite quick.
On stage, you're continually going through a process. Genuinely not one show has been the same. Every night is different - for example, last week I had a different mum on stage with me every night.
With TV, on the other hand, you know what you have to film that day and once you've done it you move on. I miss doing long shoots, but I recently had a little role in the Rocketman movie coming out in the summer. It's not a major role, but if you keep your eyes peeled, you might see if I made the final cut!
How are you feeling about stepping back into some fabulous shoes after playing Angel?
It is fab to be back in some shoes that I know I can dance in, but I must say, Angel's track had way more dancing in it than Jamie's does! There isn't much choreography in his bits and bobs.
Jamie's more about telling the story. "Today 4 U" in Rent, on the other hand, was something else!
Playing Jamie feels different anyway, as he technically doesn't physically get into drag. I'm simply playing a 16-year-old who learns he can totally be himself.
What other stories do you think should be on stage today?
All stories are important. Any show where people are celebrated and lifted up, I'm all for that. Theatre is all about moving forward and changing minds, be it telling gritty or fun stories. As clichéd as it sounds, theatre is about making the world a better place.
Any other projects coming up that you can tell us about?
I have a company Pros from the Shows that I'm really passionate about. We run workshops for students all over the country in dance/theatre and film.
I have a pool of performers from all over the industry. The goal is to inspire the next generation of performers, and it's really great that I get to work on that in my spare time.
Out of Angel, Seaweed and Jamie, who would you want to go on a spa day with?
I wouldn't take Seaweed, as he's a bit of a lad. As much as I'd love to take Jamie on a spa day I feel like he would be all "Chat, chat, chat" and I'd have to tell him to shut up!
So I'd have to say I'd take Angel because she has a bit more chill about her. I'd definitely go to a party with Jamie afterwards though!
What's your favourite thing about being part of the show?
My favourite thing about playing Jamie is the message that the show sends out to the audience and the ripple effect that that has. They leave the show full of so much joy and openness.
It's for everybody. The shows says you can be whoever you want to be. You can be your authentic self.
In this country, playing Jamie is a form of activism for me personally. It's great to play a character who is out and proud, because there are still places in the world where people can't do that.
Why should people come to see your take on Jamie?
People should come because it's a completely different actor. My Jamie has a different vibe and a different feel.
When I came into rehearsals for this show, it was not a case of "Stand on that dot" etc. to take the place of a previous actor. There has been a complete switch-up, which has been so good for us as a cast.
The director, Jonathan Butterell, has been behind us all through our storytelling, fully trusting us as a cast.
If you've seen it before, you should definitely come back. We're doing pretty good at the moment - selling out, people are on their feet every night. I feel like I'm pinching myself so often that I'm in this wonderful show.
Photo credit: Multitude Media