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INTERVIEW: Tyrone Huntley From Jesus Christ Superstar

It has been an epic year for Tyrone Huntley who keeps reaching greater heights as his CV continues to grow.

In April, Huntley was nominated for an Olivier award for his role as Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre. Despite not winning that award, the musical won Best Musical Revival and is set for a remarkable return. The emerging talent has always kept his schedule insanely busy. When he was playing Doctor in The Book Of Mormon he was also studying a Graduate Diploma in Law and was rewarded with a distinction. It’s undeniable that Tyrone Huntley is a machine and a perfect role model on how to achieve in life. We spoke to him ahead of his upcoming role of reprising Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar.

Did you ever expect to reprise the role of Judas?

In a word, no. Performing the role last year felt like such a fluke that being given the opportunity to do it again seemed extremely unlikely!

After being cast as Judas, how much time did you put into perfecting the role?

The rehearsal period was five weeks within which I worked closely with the musical director Tom Deering and director Tim Sheader to get really comfortable with the material and find a Judas that was unique to me. However, I wouldn’t say I perfected the role at all. The show ran for only six weeks which allowed me to grow within the character to a certain degree but I still feel I have a lot more to find and play with and this year’s run will allow me to do just that.

Was Judas your dream role since you started acting, or is there another musical you have always dreamt of performing in?

I’ve never really had one particular dream role but Judas is definitely one of those iconic parts that every young musical theatre actor would love to have a go at l, so I know how very lucky I am to have been given the chance to do it.

At the time did you expect to be nominated for an Olivier Award?

I don’t think anyone ever expects to be nominated for an Olivier! I knew it was a possibility, as it is when you perform in any West End show, but I honestly never thought my name would be on the list. I can’t begin to imagine how it would feel to win one. When we won Best Musical Revival I was overcome with pride and I was on the brink of tears for a good couple of hours after – if I won my own Olivier I’d probably be bedridden for a couple of days from the shock.

Despite the obvious, what else makes performing outdoors much more different to indoors? Is there a different atmosphere from the audience?

The main difference is that you can see the audience, every single face, especially in the matinees. This allows for an altogether more reciprocal experience. Unlike conventional indoor theatres, you’re able to really connect with the audience as human beings and not just as a collective observer.

When did your desire to be an actor first initiate?

In all honesty, I have no idea. Since before I can remember, I’ve always loved to sing and I suppose that grew into a love of performing. I was never very athletic or sporty like my older brother and so my parents encouraged me to go to drama and music clubs instead through which I gained confidence and met some inspirational teachers who told me that I could actually do it for a job if I really wanted to!

How long did it take you to break into your first West End production?

After graduating from drama school I toured for a year and then got my first West End job in The Book of Mormon straight after that. There’s no typical time frame to compare to, some go straight from drama school some wait years and years but in a country where regional theatre is at such a high standard and perhaps more rewarding in terms of reaching out to a particular community, the West End is by no means the absolute ultimate goal.

Besides Judas, what has been the most rewarding role you’ve played so far?

In Memphis I played a character called Gator who, having been mute since he witnessed the murder of his father, becomes a beacon of hope when he finally manages to sing a quiet but emotionally charged gospel number, at the end of Act One.

The themes presented in the show were an extremely important reminder of the world’s uncomfortably recent past and it was an honour to be able to help tell that story in a role that was symbolic of both crippling fear and unwavering hope.

You’ve performed in The Colour Purple and the Grenfell Tower fundraiser, what other one night performances have you got coming up?

I really appreciate being asked to do these sorts of gigs, especially when they’re for charity like the two mentioned. It allows me to sing fun new material that I don’t usually get to perform and having done a few over the past year or so, my confidence has grown with regards to being myself in front of an audience, without a character to hide behind. Because Judas is so vocally demanding I probably won’t be doing any over the summer but look forward to hopefully doing a few in the autumn.

Have you ever had a moment on stage where something went wrong, but you were the saviour to the mistake?

Too many to recall! When something goes wrong I react in one of two ways. I’m either really sensible and my brain starts working overtime trying to figure out how I can resolve the situation OR I break down. Laughing not crying. I will try my hardest to keep calm and carry on and by and large I’m the epitome of discipline and professionalism HOWEVER if something is genuinely funny enough, I will spend the rest of the scene stifling an almighty belly laugh!

What’s next in the world of Tyrone Huntley?

Who knows? I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have worked on the most amazing projects over the past few years and I just hope that in the years to come similar opportunities (and challenges outside of my comfort zone) will continue to be presented to me.

Jesus Christ Superstar will be at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre from 11th August – 23rd September. Make sure you get your tickets here to avoid missing out.

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