“You quickly get a reputation if you’re not nice at stage door”: An interview With Rhydian Roberts

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Last month, I had the opportunity to see Little Shop of Horrors at the Pavilion Theatre in Bournemouth. Whilst there, as well as having a chat with the show’s co-producer, I also got to sit down with the main star, and former X Factor runner up, Rhydian Roberts. From the hair to man-eating plants to stage door, we discussed it all. But first, he enthused about tea and coffee…

I’m addicted to caffeine! And laughing gas, nitrous oxide, so I get into character- no, but when you’re doing tech in rehearsals your voice gets very dry and once I’ve got this [tea]I’m fine. You’ve got good hair! You’ve been told that before I bet.

(I blush. Cue five minutes of talking about tea. He’s Tetleys, I’m PG Tips)

Anyway, speaking of good hair…

(gestures to Rhydian’s trademark white hair)

Well that’s a wig, but they have based it on my colour. A lot of the Dentists are brunettes, like Steve Martin’s, but I think the blonde hair kind of works for The Dentist.

You just look very… you look how I saw the dentist being.

Oh really?!

The pictures look quite creepy – I mean that in the nicest way! You just really fit the role aesthetically. Which I guess is what you’re aiming for really!

Well hopefully! Originally they actually approached me to play Seymour, I looked into the role and didn’t think it was right, I told them I thought the dentist would be better and they went ‘oh my god I’m so glad you said that, that’s what we wanted you to do but we didn’t think it was big enough’. Yet, I thought my role would be quite small but I play six characters.

Yeah Damian [co-producer] was saying. Who else do you play?!

They keep giving me more and more. They gave me one yesterday.

You open tonight!

Ha, exactly! From what I thought would be a straightforward track it’s now busy busy busy, I’ve got all my costumes upstairs and I think 10 costume changes total.

He’s just such a terrifying character to see played. And obviously it’s a very old story, it’s quite of the time it was made (aside from the man-eating plant). Angry man, timid girlfriend but he’s so popular, and it’s such a popular play even though it’s very dark.

You’re definitely not meant to like him. I mean, I’m a wife beater… But the bad guys are the best ones to play. He’s obviously notorious and I can definitely say it’s the best character I’ve ever played because of the different levels you can bring in. He’s a dentist, he’s a business man, he loves his mum who’s passed away wanted him to be a dentist because he enjoyed inflicting pain on animals when he was younger, and then there’s this love triangle. And I have this business head on me as well; I try to help Seymour in his quest to make Audrey II global but in the end I’ve got this schiz side. And obviously I’m a sado-masochist. Audrey looks the way she does because I make her look like that.

Which is scary to think. Obviously it must have been difficult to get into character-

Course I’m going to say yes!

Exactly! But it must have been difficult on you to get into that mindset? It seems like a mindset that’s a product of having experienced something negative.

I spoke to a psychotherapist about different conditions, some people think he’s a psychopath but- yeah, I’ve enjoyed discovering the role. It’s just great to play and there’s comedy in it as well, his song isn’t very serious. The whole show is very… the music sounds upbeat, listen to the music, it’s so happy throughout but the lyrics are all dark. The writers and Alan Menken are fantastic. I’ll play the role truthfully, not cartoonesque, though the set looks cartoony and it really is easy to make him that way. He has to be a little ludicrous, the way I dress and everything I think I’m some sort of rock star and Elvis Presley but the way I act it isn’t stupid I don’t think. I want to scare you! And the fact he’s a dentist, we can all relate to that.

Do you ever find stage door stressful – obviously  a lot of people know who you are, do you ever get intimidated or unsafe?

I don’t mind stage door, it’s all part of it. I’d never avoid it, I’m just grateful for the people who’ve come to see us – the public have given me the job. And you get used to it, you just have to be nice to everyone, all they want is a photo and autograph. Sometimes you’re tired but it’s part of being a professional. We have a great life and there’s things we have to do and should do to pay back. As long as they’re respectful which they always are, it’s all part of it. You quickly get a reputation if you’re not nice at stage door. I mean, I’m not Elvis, I don’t have six security guards.

Any final words?

I just urge everyone to come and see it!

Little Shop of Horrors is currently on its UK tour, which runs until the 26th November.

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Third year PAIR student and live editor. Also the Wessex Scene's Head of Events. Fan of cats, gigs and a tea lover - find me rambling about politics and cats @_Carly_May on Twitter.

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