BWW Interviews: Gary Watson of JERSEY BOYS
Hi Gary, and welcome to BWW:UK! You're the newest member of the Jersey Boys cast - how are you liking it?
Yep, I'm the newbie - I've been there since March! We had our rehearsal process, opened, then we had the Oliviers and being up for the Audience Award, and that involved a lot of extra promo stuff, then we performed on the outside stage on the night, which was incredible. Ever since, there have ben different things - West End Live, Frankie Valli was in - this show generates so much excitement, and it's a rollercoaster but it's brilliant to be a part of it.
When the show moved to the Piccadilly, people were thinking it might be shifting out altogether - but it hasn't, and you've still got such a high profile.
Yes, exactly! Everyone has said that the move has improved the show, because it's quite an intimate show - it isn't a big spectacular, it's more like a play with the back catalogue of songs, so it suits the Piccadilly. Our audiences are amazing. There's no sign of it fading. Everyone in the building absolutely cares about the show - and that travels over to the audience, who have a fantastic time.
You put your finger on something that's special about the show - you're relying on clever directing and the strength of the songs to draw your audience in. That must be a challenge for you as actors.
Absolutely. We have nothing to rely on. It's all about the text, and all about the direction. It's a massive challenge, but I love it. It's so lovely to go back to basics. What you deliver is stripped away, and that's what it needs to be. The story is key to its success. People come for the songs and stay for the story. I had this surreal moment when Frankie Valli was in, and it struck me again how amazing their story was, and this guy actually lived it! It's extraordinary. I just think it has a real universal appeal. An older generation love the songs, and the younger generation don't realise how many of those songs they actually know! It's a great show for people who haven't seen musicals before.
Was Frankie Valli nice?
He's fantastic! He was quite emotional when he came backstage afterwards. I can't imagine what it's like to see your life played out in front of you. He was such a gentleman, and very complimentary, so we were all thrilled.
Jersey Boys has such a dedicated fanbase - were you nervous about being under that scrutiny?
I was excited about being part of such a landmark show. I love the character, but a big part of my nerves were being alongside these established guys who have been in the show for so long! They're so cemented in. But they've been really welcoming, the whole cast has been fantastic. I'm having a great time with the guys. We genuinely really get on, so that helps. That's what it's all about - most of this show is the story of four guys, their banter, their journey, and their rise to the top. The fans have been really welcoming too. I've done cast changes before - it's tricky, people play parts differently, but they've embraced us, and it's been a real joy.