Friday, June 10, 2011

Q&A With Tam Mutu - Alternate Phantom at London's Love Never Dies

Recently, Tam Mutu graciously agreed to answer a series of questions on the Tam Mutu Appreciation Group page on Facebook. 

Since I had the opportunity to see Tam in April of this year and thought his performance was stellar as the Phantom, including grabbing him at the stage door to get his autograph and meet him personally, I asked for permission to post the questions/answers on my blog.  Permission was given, so here they are.  If you wish to know more about Tam's background in theatre, his bio is linked back to the Love Never Dies website.  

Many fans are hoping that Tam will be the Phantom when Ramin Karimloo leaves in September.  He would be an excellent choice.  His voice is powerful, and his interpretation of the Phantom is moving.  I hope you'll join me and many others and support Tam in his role in Love Never Dies.

1) What do you like best about playing the Phantom?

In musical theatre terms, he is like a super hero. It’s great to be able to give my interpretation of a wonderful character and join a very successful list of people who have.

2) How do you prepare mentally to become the character that you play on stage?

For me the mental work starts at the beginning of the rehearsal process. I do a lot of research on the character and on the play itself (when the play is set, location, etc.). I try to learn as much as I can and talk things through with fellow actors, designers, and, of course, the director. This allows me to make choices and find my own truth. I learn my lines inside out. Before I go on stage, I may look over notes I have made throughout the rehearsal process or that I have been given by the resident director from a previous show/rehearsal. If I have done my preparation and research and obviously rehearsed thoroughly, the mental work has been done. It’s then a case going on stage and trying to remember the work/choices I have made and aiming to be as truthful each night as I can possibly be.

3) Have you ever had any accidents on stage?

Yes. One night in the old (original) show after ‘"Til I Hear You Sing" , I used to rush upstage and close the curtain around the Christine doll after being interrupted by Madame Giry and Meg. Well this night as I ran upstage, I slipped and fell flat on my back nearly knocking over Sierra who was the doll. There was a massive gasp from the audience. So embarrassing!

4) Have you some sort of ritual before each performance?

The make up usually takes around 45 minutes each day. I generally tend to listen to music or watch DVDs while this is happening. It can be a little mundane otherwise. It used to take over an hour, but the wig department has done really well to get the time down. Well done Biddy!

5) Would you like to play the first Phantom at Her Majesty’s?

Ha Ha Ha! I get asked this a lot. Yes, I would like to do the original Phantom. Be nice to complete the circle, albeit I have gone anti-clockwise in the process.

6) Have you experienced incidents when you messed up your lines or did something wrong during a show?

Yes. This actually happens more often than people think. The trick is to cover it as best as possible. Most of the time the audience doesn’t notice but it is a horrible feeling when it happens.

7) Do you have any specific music you like to listen to while you get ready for a show?

My music is random to say the least. One day it could be Mario Lanza the next it could be Eminem. It usually reflects how I am feeling or if I need to be inspired or motivated in some way.

8) Was it hard to adjust to the new changes and a new cast?

Yes, it was weird at first but you learn to adjust pretty quickly. The line changes were awkward as some of them were very subtle, but enough to trip you up ("‘Til I Hear You Sing’" being a prime example). I used to see costumes and not match the faces with what they were wearing. Was really weird. Things are all good now though.

9) Was there a time on the stage when you actually felt you were the Phantom?

I guess there is an element of that every night really. I have to commit to what I am doing and believe that I am that person.  Otherwise I am not being truthful, and I feel like I am cheating the audience.

10) Who has been your favourite Gustave to work with?

Ooh, I can’t answer that. All of them have brought something different to it. I am amazed by how fearless they all are. Inspirational really!

11) Would love it if you could make an album, but if that’s not possible how about having an official website where you could perhaps record some songs and put them online, as quite a number of musical theatre artists already do?

That is something I should be looking into I know. Am not the best at looking at myself and the idea of my own website makes me queasy. Ha Ha Ha!

12) I can imagine it must be really tiring some nights, so how do you wind down after a long day at the theatre?

Cup of tea at home. Movie/TV/Xbox.

13) What is your view on people that see the show on multiple occasions?

Thank you for all your support. We must be doing something right.

14) How do you feel about people who wait to see you at stage door?

I feel that if someone has taken the time to watch you in the show, then the least you can do is give them five minutes of your time.

15) If the show were to become a movie, would you consider playing the Phantom?

Ha Ha Ha! Yes think I stand a good chance of pipping Johnny Depp and Hugh Jackman to the role. It would be great.

16) What is your dream role?

When I was at college I always wanted to play Curly in ‘Oklahoma’. I love all the traditional Musical Theatre roles. Have had a thing about Martin Guerre for a while too.

17) Is there anyone you would really love to sing/act with?

Wow that’s a toughie! Would love to sing with Vittorio Grigolo. Am a massive fan of his. Also sing/act with Hugh Jackman. He can do everything and one of my big inspirations.

18) How did your acting/singing vocation start? Was there anyone who inspired you to become an actor?

I was a late starter really. I was in the school choir, but didn’t start drama/singing until I was about 15. I joined the local amateur dramatics society and gradually became more confident and more interested. I remember the first time I thought I would like to act for a living and that was when I was in the NYMT doing a production of ‘Whistle Down the Wind’. The person who most inspired me to want to perform was probably one of my best friends, Jeremy Sharples. He had (still does) an amazing voice and was in my local am dram club. He’ll probably kill me for mentioning his name Ha Ha ha!

19) Are there any singers/actors who have inspired you, either living or dead, i.e. we know you admire Mario Lanza.

It’s strange really because I never really thought of myself as much of a singer. It was just something I did and enjoyed. Have grown and learned so much from singing and learned to appreciate voices and allow myself to be appreciated, if that makes sense. Anyway singers: Definitely Mario Lanza! Pavarotti, new guy called Vittorio Grigolo (amazing!), Jeremy Sharples, Freddy Mercury, George Michael, Sierra Boggess, Whitney Houston and the amazing Jeff Buckley. Actors: I love Leo Di Caprio (always wanted his career) and Johnny Depp. Pacino because you can’t take your eyes off him and my friend Joseph Millson who is supremely talented.

20) Which is your favourite part of Love Never Dies, and do you prefer one song to any other?

My favourite part is probably the end of Act 1 when the Phantom finds out about Gustave. It’s great to do. I love all the music, but feel really fortunate to be able to sing ‘"Til I Hear You Sing." It’s such a great song, and I think one of ALW best for a leading man.

21) If the show were to be moved to Broadway, would you like to go with it as Phantom?


22) Any roles on the great White Way you would like to play?

Any. Would be great to work on Broadway.

23) Many London theatres are said to be haunted. Have you ever come across anything spooky and seen/heard an actual theatre ghost?

I haven’t actually. The scariest thing I have seen is probably some of my fellow actors naked in the dressing room. It can be very traumatic!

24) Going back to the question of your own website, apart from enabling folks to hear you sing we could also be kept up to date with any concerts or future shows/TV/theatre work that you might be doing. Any plans for a website?

I am hoping to sort something out.

25) Do you have a favourite film… book… TV programme?

Film: Top 3 (at the moment and in no particular order) Star Wars (Empire Strikes Back), Groundhog Day and The Usual Suspects. Book: A season with Verona by Tim Parks (Loved it) and The Dark Tower series by Stephen King. TV Show: Spongebob Squarepants (Yes I am deadly serious!) and South Park.

26) Lastly, the figure from history you’d most like to meet.

Alexander the Great (male) he must have been some guy. Cleopatra (female) see what all the fuss is about.

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Thanks to those who were involved in spearheading this Q&A with Tam Mutu on Facebook.   The talent in the show is phenomenal, and I'm happy to support getting the word out on Tam's great interpretation of the Phantom and his aspirations for the future.

Go visit his page on Facebook and show your support.

The Phantom's Student aka Vicki

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