BWW Interview: THE GRINNING MAN's Louis Maskell Reveals His Favourite Showtunes
Actor Louis Maskell's work ranges from Doctor Faustus at Shakespeare's Globe and Flowers for Mrs Harris at Chichester and Crucible Theatre, Sheffield, to the national tour of West Side Story and My Fair Lady, also in Sheffield.
He received rave reviews for his performance as Grinpayne in The Grinning Man, which played at Bristol Old Vic and in the West End. The original Bristol production is streaming online from tonight and is available for a week - you have until 3 July to watch!
To mark the occasion, Louis caught up with BroadwayWorld to reveal his five favourite songs from the world of musical theatre.
1. "Staying Alive" from Saturday Night Fever
Can I just start by saying that if you were asking me which songs I thought were the best rather than my favourite, this would be a very different conversation! [laughs] I saw the original production of Saturday Night Fever at the London Palladium when I was about eight or nine, and it was the show that really made me decide to be an actor. I remember being completely overwhelmed by the whole experience. The way the show's thrilling overture seamlessly bleeds into "Staying Alive" - it filled me with a great sense of excitable anticipation at the prospect of a story yet to be told. And it's also the only song to walk down a street to!
2. "One by One" from The Lion King
Witnessing this number as a boy, I distinctly remember feeling very close to - and I know it's a wanky term - theatrical bliss. I remember watching one of the actors in the auditorium's boxes fly this bird over my head, and the rest of the company singing the number, and I think it's just so raw and joyful. I still can't help but respond to it with a beaming smile. And even though it's in a different language, me and my sisters know all the words!
3. "The Song of Hope (Duet)" from Lord of the Rings
This song represents two things that I love, which are musical theatre and Lord of the Rings. I remember seeing it when I was at drama school, and just being totally captivated by its theatricality and scale. To be honest I could choose a lot of different songs from that show, because it's a story really close to my heart. A story of love and courage, of friendship and loss. And one which will always make my imagination run wild. I've sung along to the recording and duetted with Rosie Craig an embarrassing number of times! I was obsessed with the show and saw it quite a few times, and then I got to work with her. We did a workshop for Flowers for Mrs Harris and she played one of the parts. I remember having a slight little freak out that Arwen was coming into the room!
4. "Dance at the Gym" from West Side Story
Not necessarily a song, but obviously it's part of a show. I watched the film so many times growing up and it was always a number that was a particular highlight of mine. Obviously Bernstein's music is always, and in this number especially, like an assault on the senses. It's so visceral and almost aggressive. And not to mention when you're listening to it how evocative it is of Jerome Robbin's choreography. When I did the show, I remember feeling completely overwhelmed during this number and having to stop myself from joining in and shouting too much, otherwise I never would have been able to sing "Maria", which was directly after. So a lot of the time I was sorting of miming the shouts and stuff, because otherwise I don't think I would have been able to stop myself! It's just an amazing show, and this number is an incredible part of it.
5. "Yorktown (The World Turned Upside Down)" from Hamilton
This song isn't necessarily the 'go to' song from the show for most people, or one that people may say is the best, but the lyric from Hercules Mulligan - "When you knock me down, I get the fuck back up again" - it's one of the greatest lyrics! And it's the song for me to get hyped up to. Honestly, when I hear the lyric, I feel like I could do anything. It's the kind of energy I associate with people running out of a stadium tunnel or something - into an NFL game or onto a football pitch. The kind of song that accompanies those moments. When I hear it, I'm just buzzing.
The Grinning Man is currently streaming on the Bristol Old Vic website until 3 July. What are your favourite musical theatre songs? Let us know @BroadwayWorldUK!