BWW Interviews: SOUTH DOWNS' Jonathan Bailey


Jonathan Bailey is sheltering from a big rainstorm in the middle of London when we speak. "It's worse when it's raining and you're in the theatre," he says. "It has a tin roof and you can hear it on stage!"

That's the Harold Pinter Theatre, where Bailey is about to start the run of the double-bill The Browning Version/South Downs, with an ensemble cast including Anna Chancellor and Nicholas Farrell.

"I kind of wish I could see it," he says. "I'd love to come in as an audience member and see how it all plays out, and go out in the interval then come back in to re-engage with new characters."

Some of the young cast are in their first professional job, but Bailey has a fair few credits under his belt, including Girl With A Pearl Earring. Even so, he says that the rehearsal process has been an incredible learning experience.

"I'm learning so much from the calibre of cast we have. It's great to see people developing a toolkit, almost – you learn so much from just seeing how Anna and Nick deal with their notes, for example, or seeing how they think about things."

Bailey started as a child actor, with his interest in performing being triggered by a trip to see Oliver! when he was six. A while later, there were local auditions to see children for the RSC production of A Christmas Carol - "That was how Tiny Tim came about, they asked me to go to London, and my family didn't know what was going on!"

He also appeared as Gavroche in Les Miserables, after what sounds like a traumatic audition process. "It's cut-throat! They ask you to leave as they filter the group down, and get to the final three they want for a six-month run. The first time, I got told I could go back to my mum now, and she explained to me that I hadn't got the part this time round - I cried all the way home. So I went back next year, I think I'd grown a bit, and got it that time."

And musical theatre is something that may interest him as a career move in the future. "Yes, I think so! I'm inspired or motivated in a diff way by musicals, and of course the technical challenge is different. It's more than just 'tell me a story' – it looks like unbelievable fun!"

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From This Author Carrie Dunn

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