Meet the Cast of Rent: Paul Weems

After a sell-out first night, you can forget about tonight as that is already sold-out too. That means your only chance now is Saturday! The box office is only open until midday tomorrow. Tickets may be available on the door at the Rhoda McGaw Theatre, Woking, but don't take the risk of losing out - Curtain up 7:45.

Now, in the last of our series we introduce a big character on stage, and off...

"He’s a drug dealer"

Paul ,  ready to make an impression in rehearsal,  with Martin Woodhams & Daniel Owen  (Photo courtesy of  Front of House Photography  )

Paul, ready to make an impression in rehearsal,  with Martin Woodhams & Daniel Owen (Photo courtesy of Front of House Photography )

Name: Paul Weems

Character Name: 'The Man'

Tell us about your character: He’s a drug dealer. He supplies the drugs to Mimi which nearly end up killing her. 

Is there anything in your own life that helps you connect with your character?! Um…..no

What’s your favourite song in the show and why? 'Christmas Bells' ... because I’m in it.

What other shows have you done? Most recently I played Benedick in Much ado about nothing. Numerous shows previously, amongst them I was Vince Fontaine in Simply Theatre's Grease last year.

Can you recall a particularly memorable on-stage moment? There have been many but staring at a glass for 5 minutes while no one came on was pretty memorable.

Can you remember the first time you thought “I want to be in theatre”? I was 19 years old and the musical Cats came to town. I couldn’t wait to see it. They asked me if I wanted to go backstage and meet the cast. I was thrilled.

What are you enjoying most about being part of Simply Theatre? Well….the annual trip to Bedbar of course.

Is there room in your life for anything else apart from singing, dancing & acting? Hats.

No Day But Today

Meet the Cast of Rent: Elly Fenton

RENT opens tonight!

The box office is open until midday but after that tickets will be available on the door. Friday is all but sold out, but you can still book for Saturday at the Rhoda McGaw Theatre, Woking - Curtain up 7:45.

"Her favourite activates are winding up the police and pick-pocketing"

Rent has a vast array of characters, so many of our cast get to play multiple roles.

Name: Elly Fenton

Character Name(s)/Roles: Homeless and Various Ensemble Characters

Elly in rehearsal  (Photo courtesy of  Front of House Photography )

Elly in rehearsal (Photo courtesy of Front of House Photography)

Tell us about your character(s): My character is predominantly a Homeless Girl. She is new to the streets and finding it hard to get any money or help from others. It’s safe to say that life isn’t going how she had planned. She’s the ‘baby’ of the homeless ‘family’ but she’s tougher than she appears. Her favourite activates are winding up the police and pick-pocketing.

Is there anything in your own life that helps you connect with your character(s)?! I can’t say I’ve ever slept on the streets, but I consider her to be approximately my age and I can connect to her ability to be cheeky and find the silver-lining to life.

What’s your favourite song in the show and why? My favourite song has to be 'La Vie Boheme' because I have so much fun performing it. It’s the moment in the show where the characters manage to ignore the struggles in their life and focus on their own laughter and having a great time. I also hope that this musical number will be exciting and refreshing for our audience. My other favourites are ‘Take me or Leave me’, ‘Light my Candle’ and ‘Santa Fe’.

What other shows have you done? This is my second show with Simply Theatre and I’m sure it won’t be my last! Last year I played Frenchie in ‘Grease’ with Simply Theatre, but I have also played roles such as Eponine (Les Miserables), Marty (Grease) and Tracy Turnblad (Hairspray).

Can you recall a particularly memorable on-stage moment? The most memorable stage moment for me is that feeling I get just before I go on stage for the curtain call. There’s a rush of adrenaline and I can’t wipe the smile from my face.

Can you remember the first time you thought “I want to be in theatre”? I was 4 years old. It was the summer before I started Reception and my soon-to-be primary school hall had a classical proscenium arch stage at the very end. Legend has it that I told my mum what I was most looking forward to about going to school was “performing on the big stage!”

What are you enjoying most about being part of Simply Theatre? Simply Theatre has given me a lot. I’ve met some of my closest friends through being involved with their shows and I have been able to grow and develop as a performer. The thing I enjoy most is being part of what’s like a second-family as we all go through the process of creating theatre together.

Is there room in your life for anything else apart from singing, dancing & acting? Other than singing, acting and dancing I take Geography A Level – and it sucks.

No Day But Today

Elly in rehearsal with  Matt Hough  &  Alex Kirkham   (Photo courtesy of  Front of House Photography )

Elly in rehearsal with Matt Hough & Alex Kirkham (Photo courtesy of Front of House Photography)

Meet the Cast of Rent: Megan Swaisland

Rent stages this week from Thurs until Sat at the Rhoda McGaw Theatre, Woking - go to our box office whilst seats are still available!

"Apart from the amazing choices of shows, Simply is such a loving company"

Rent has a vast array of characters, so many of our cast get to play multiple roles.

Megan in rehearsal  (Photo courtesy of  Front of House Photography )

Megan in rehearsal (Photo courtesy of Front of House Photography)

Name: Megan Swaisland

Character Name(s)/Roles: Junkie and part-time stripper.

Tell us about your character(s) My characters are very interesting to play... both desperate for completely different reasons. My junkie character purely desperate for her next fix whereas my nightclub dancer is desperate to earn money to live. Buried deep beneath the desperation though is a heart of gold and just a young girl looking to find someone to take care of her. Someone who will never abandon her and be the angel in her life.

Is there anything in your own life that helps you connect with your character(s)?! I can't say I'm even remotely similar to my junkie character... However I can understand her desperation and determination to get something in her life. I'm on a gap year at the moment and auditioning for drama school, and although I won't be stripping in order to to get in, I would do just about anything for it. The only time I'm similar to my nightclub dancer is when I'm strutting (unconvincingly) around the dance floor in pop world. Though perhaps wearing a little more.

What’s your favourite song in the show and why? I absolutely LOVE 'Take Me or Leave Me'! It is so sassy and I just love watching Frankie and Maria diva it out on the stage. It also reflects my outlook on life - take me or leave me, I am the way I am. You can't go through life trying to change yourself for other people, no matter how much they mean to you, especially if that compromises the real you.

What other shows have you done? Oooo, lots! I was in 'Grease' last year with Simply Theatre - I played Jan... The one that eats full-time. It was fabulous because I got to eat twinkies for the whole show and be completely goofy. Pretty much me in general... I've also been in shows such as 'Parade', 'Whistle Down The Wind' and 'Cinderella'.

Can you recall a particularly memorable on-stage moment? I will never forget the moment when I was performing in my final GSA foundation showcase and I realised how lucky I was to be able to perform like this and with all these amazing people. It was a bit embarrassing because I was absolutely weeping. It's funny how companies can become so close so quickly. We're so fortunate in that we almost have a second family. I wouldn't change it for the world.

Can you remember the first time you thought “I want to be in theatre”? I will always remember the day I was sat watching 'Annie' on a rainy day in France, and I fell head over heels in love with Ann Reinking. Her dance in the yellow dress for 'We've got Annie' absolutely captivated me, and from then on I was hooked. I wanted to be like the lady in the floaty yellow dress.

What are you enjoying most about being part of Simply Theatre? Apart from the amazing choices of shows, Simply is such a loving company. Everyone is so so friendly and welcoming and we all clump together as a family. It's an honour to perform with not only immensely talented people, but also dear friends as well.

Is there room in your life for anything else apart from singing, dancing & acting? I'm afraid I'm pretty much a full time creative! If I'm not musical theatre-ing, I'm making a scrapbook or planning an amazing birthday present full of sparkles and pink things... I just like making stuff. Other than that, sleeping is high on the agenda.

No Day But Today

Meet the Cast of Rent: Matt Hough

With his mother & sister as director & choreographer, he clearly doesn't mind being told what to do!

"... a troubled relationship and drug issue"

Name: Matt Hough

Character Name: Roger Davis

Matt in an early rehearsal  (Photo courtesy of  Front of House Photography )

Matt in an early rehearsal (Photo courtesy of Front of House Photography)

Tell us about your character: He is a guitarist, recovering from a troubled relationship and drug issue which has effected his social behaviour. 

Is there anything in your own life that helps you connect with your character? Certain things, girls are hard to handle ;)

What’s your favourite song in the show and why? Ooh difficult I think it has to be 'I'll cover you reprise', too cool and I must add credit to Alex absolutely smashes every time I hear it...

Matt as Roger with  Grace Mouat  as Mimi in rehearsal  (Photo courtesy of  Front of House Photography )

Matt as Roger with Grace Mouat as Mimi in rehearsal (Photo courtesy of Front of House Photography)

What other shows have you done? Valjean in 'Les Miserables' , Joe Vegas in 'Fame' and LeFou in 'Beauty and the Beast', Tin Man in 'The Wiz', Ernst in 'Spring Awakening', also appeared in a GSA main show 'Bye Bye Birdie' 

Can you recall a particularly memorable on-stage moment? Played PFC Louden Downey in 'A Few Good Men' at Edinburgh Fringe a few years ago, So much fun; massive learning curve.

Can you remember the first time you thought “I want to be in theatre”? Watching Jersey Boys. I loved how slick that show was... And I thought I could hit those high notes ... well I can't ;)

What are you enjoying most about being part of Simply Theatre? The people. All those friends I've made, and had all my life, through this group. They're my family, much extended family ;)

Is there room in your life for anything else apart from singing, dancing & acting? I play cricket and a bit of rugby. And enjoys job at Nandos. Mainly for the food.

Rent runs from Thursday 17th September until Saturday 19th at the Rhoda McGaw Theatre, Woking - book here before the tickets are gone!

No Day But Today

Meet the Cast of Rent: Jamie McNicholas

Rent opens a week today and runs until Saturday 19th at the Rhoda McGaw Theatre, Woking - You can book here.whilst you still have a choice of night!

"I got the chance to perform with the original Fagin ... Ron Moody."

Name: Jamie McNicholas

Character Name: Angel Dummot Schunard

Jamie in rehearsal with  Sabrina Hinchliffe ,  Alex Kirkham  and  Freddie Cox   (Photo courtesy of  Front of House Photography )

Jamie in rehearsal with Sabrina Hinchliffe, Alex Kirkham and Freddie Cox (Photo courtesy of Front of House Photography)

Tell us about your character: Angel is a young drag queen and street percussionist. He meets and falls in love with Collins. He has HIV/ AIDS. As a person, Angel is the most generous and selfless character in the show. Angel hands out money to the neighbourhood while dressed in Santa drag. Though he has HIV/AIDS, he embraces life and lives it to its fullest. People are naturally drawn to him and his smile lights up the room. Tom and Angel’s relationship is the heart of the show, as the genuine love and devotion they have for one another brings hope and inspiration to the entire group. They show the world how to truly live life and not be afraid.

Is there anything in your own life that helps you connect with your character? I do not think I have many connections to Angel in my own life, which for me is a positive as I really get to explore a different side to myself and my performance skills in a way that I had never considered previously, and also to play with a character completely different to myself - I’m really enjoying taking on this different outlook that Angel has and developing my skills as a Male to walk in heels. Angel is very selfless and carries a natural warmth within her personality – I feel many of her personality traits are ones that I would ideally like people to recognise in me, and this is something I take with me when playing her in rehearsals.

What’s your favourite song in the show and why? My favourite song in the show is the “Ill cover you – reprise”, I choose this song because I feel that it is the key song in the show that will punch you right in the emotions. The song perfectly shows the struggles that come with losing a loved one and the ballad style reprise of a once upbeat song about a young couple in love is really something to behold.

What other shows have you done? I have done a few shows prior to Rent, my most enjoyable experiences include: 'Chitty Chitty Bang Bang' - Uk tour; 'Cinderella' Pantomime – New Victoria Theatre Woking; 'Oliver! the Musical' – Theatre Royal Drury Lane; 'Spring Awakening' – Godalming College; 'Cabaret' – Godalming College; 'Let The Right One In' – Godalming College.

Can you recall a particularly memorable on-stage moment? The most memorable on stage moment for me has to be when I luckily got the chance to be a member of Fagin's Gang on the 50th Anniversary of Oliver! I got the chance to perform with the original Fagin, who recently passed, Ron Moody. I’ve never seen someone control an audience the way he did, and get so much pleasure from being on stage even at the age of 86. It was the most inspiring performance I have ever seen on stage and I don’t think I will have many experiences that will top that one.

Can you remember the first time you thought “I want to be in theatre”? I spent my early years as a child wanting to grow up to be a professional rugby player… hard to believe now as you may recognise me on stage as the one on stage in a dress and heels. But it wasn’t until the age of around 11/12 I would see shows up in London and be very jealous of any kids I saw on stage, a poignant moment for me was when watching Billy Elliot.

What are you enjoying most about being part of Simply Theatre? This is the first production that I have ever done with Simply, and everyone has been so welcoming and made me feel comfortable from the second I met them. Simply has a great social side to our rehearsals, but we have also been very productive and efficient with the time we’ve spent on the show. Its very reassuring to have this much faith in a show and the company you’re working with.

Is there room in your life for anything else apart from singing, dancing & acting? If you mean anything of importance… then no… Sometimes I watch Netflix and eat.

No Day But Today

Meet the Cast of Rent: Maria Langford

Rent runs from Thursday 17th September until Saturday 19th at the Rhoda McGaw Theatre, Woking - go to our box office to book seats

"She's the 'grown up' of the group with good intentions ..."

Name: Maria Langford

Character Name: Joanne Jefferson

Maria in rehearsal  (Photo courtesy of  Front of House Photography  )

Maria in rehearsal (Photo courtesy of Front of House Photography )

Tell us about your character: Joanne is a successful Harvard educated lawyer who has fallen for the spontaneous and sometimes obscene Maureen. She constantly fights with her natural 'straight-laced' background and her passionate feelings for Maureen. She's the 'grown-up' of the group with good intentions but that doesn't always work out for her! By the end of the show she finds some flexibility and figures out what's really important to her. 

Is there anything in your own life that helps you connect with your character? I can definitely relate to Joanne's busy and mixed schedule and her desire to do everything at once!

What’s your favourite song in the show and why? My favourite song is 'Santa Fe'. I love the hope that it evokes and its laid back feel and harmonies are a great musical contrast to some of the more rock-based musical numbers in the show.

What other shows have you done? Theatre: Into the Woods (Witch); Personals (Woman #3); The Shakespeare Revue (Director); Film: The Other Side of The Lake (Sinead Kearns - in production)

Can you recall a particularly memorable on-stage moment? I'm 13 years old playing Tzeitel in Fiddler on the Roof; during the wedding scene my veil starts to slide of my head! Instead of letting it go I try to hang on to it and dance through with one hand on my head! Not quite the blushing bride!

Can you remember the first time you thought “I want to be in theatre”? I was 11. I went to see a school show production of Antigone at my older sister's school. I didn't have a clue what the story was, but I was hooked!

What are you enjoying most about being part of Simply Theatre? Definitely the crazy, talented people! They make the whole process so enjoyable.

Is there room in your life for anything else apart from singing, dancing & acting? My kids and my family. However, both my daughters are involved in this production! I'm also a Head of Performing Arts, so I guess the real answer is 'No'! My life is pretty full of all things performance!

Rent runs from Friday 17th September until Saturday 19th at the Rhoda McGaw Theatre, Woking - You can book here.

No Day But Today

Meet the Cast of Rent: Khuda Bee

Rent runs from Thursday 17th September until Saturday 19th at the Rhoda McGaw Theatre, Woking - You can book here.

"When I watched Rent (which was the first ever musical I watched live) I knew I had to be in theatre"

Rent has a vast array of characters, so many of our cast get to play multiple roles.

Name: Kudakwashe Bere

Character Name/Role: Pastor and Ensemble

Tell us about your characters: As The Pastor my role is pretty simple, as you might have guessed, I am in charge of the church. In the ensemble I have multiple roles. As one of the police who, for some reason, have something against the homeless - and I love it (obviously not the concept, but the action on stage). I am also a student when I am not the above two.

Khuda in rehearsal, with  Matt Hough ,  Frankie McKean  &  A    khil Gowrinath   (Photo courtesy of  Front of House Photography  )

Khuda in rehearsal, with Matt Hough, Frankie McKean & Akhil Gowrinath (Photo courtesy of Front of House Photography )

Is there anything in your own life that helps you connect with your characters? As a student, I guess it is easy to portray the character.

What’s your favourite song in the show and why? ‘Goodbye Love’ because it challenged me to think about who I am as, in life today, everyone know about what’s going on around them, especially social media, but the truth is that most people do not know or realise who they are as a person.

What other shows have you done? Beauty and the Beast as Gaston, In The Heights as Benny, Little Shop of Horrors as The Plant ‘Audrey ll’, Genesis as Solly.

Can you recall a particularly memorable on-stage moment? The moment I was revealed as the plant in Little Shop of Horrors and listening and looking at the audience’s reaction was priceless.

Can you remember the first time you thought “I want to be in theatre”? I was inspired by the way my uncle played his drums on stage and when he passed on and left me his drum kit, I knew one day I had to be on stage, and when I watched Rent (which was the first ever musical I watched live) I knew I had to be in theatre.

What are you enjoying most about being part of Simply Theatre? I guess the cast and crew aren’t as scary as I thought. In fact they are all wonderful and full of jokes, so as this is the first time with them I feel welcomed and humbled to be part of it.

Is there room in your life for anything else apart from singing, dancing & acting? I guess there is always room for a cheeky Nandos :)

No Day But Today

Meet the Cast of Rent: Akhil Gowrinath

"the opening night managed to crack my kneecap without realising"

Name: Akhil Gowrinath

Character Name: Benjamin “Benny” Coffin III

Tell us about your character: He used to live with Mark, Collins and Maureen in squalor as a Bohemian but has since sold out, marrying Alison “Muffy” Grey, heiress to the Grey fortune. As a result, he becomes landlord to Mark and Roger. I think deep down he is a decent guy who wants to be the same person he was before getting married, but gets caught up in his current lifestyle. He makes some questionable choices during the course of the show, which make him quite unlikeable on the face of it. 

Akhil   in rehearsal, with  Freddie Cox ,  Frankie McKean  &  Maria Langford   (Photo courtesy of  Front of House Photography  )

Akhil in rehearsal, with Freddie Cox, Frankie McKean & Maria Langford (Photo courtesy of Front of House Photography )

Is there anything in your own life that helps you connect with your character? Haha – well two things: As the show suggests Benny likes money and I’m also partial. Also, like Benny, I do like my car (although I don’t drive a Range Rover).

What’s your favourite song in the show and why? Out Tonight - I love the fact that it sounds like a wolf howling “Ouwoooot Tonight”!

What other shows have you done? Far too many to say all here but highlights include, Hairspray, The Last 5 Years, Footloose, Company, Sweeney Todd, Parade, A Christmas Carol, I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change.

Can you recall a particularly memorable on-stage moment? The one that comes to mind instantly (for the wrong reasons) is when I was playing Smee in Peter Pan, had to do a comic fall and on the opening night managed to crack my kneecap without realising! I carried on with the rest of the run and discovered it had cracked (and healed) 5 months later!

Can you remember the first time you thought “I want to be in theatre”? Probably when I was in year 5. I had just been cast as a Wise Man in the nativity and had so much fun doing it.

What are you enjoying most about being part of Simply Theatre? The cast are really friendly – it’s a great vibe in rehearsals. Also, Alison is a great director, she really knows what she wants, which makes it so much easier for us as the performers.

Is there room in your life for anything else apart from singing, dancing & acting? By day, I’m a tax advisor at a global accountancy firm!

Rent runs from Thursday 17th September until Saturday 19th at the Rhoda McGaw Theatre, Woking - You can book here.

No Day But Today

Coming to a stage near you - RENT!

As New Yorker’s would say - Rent is a musical with balls!  (Photo:  Elly Fenton ,  Jamie McNicholas  &  Matt Hough  give it some attitude in early rehearsals, courtesy of  Front of House Photography )

As New Yorker’s would say - Rent is a musical with balls!
(Photo: Elly Fenton, Jamie McNicholas & Matt Hough give it some attitude in early rehearsals, courtesy of Front of House Photography)

Simply Theatre’s production of the Pulitzer, Olivier & Tony awarding musical RENT, at Woking's Rhoda McGaw Theatre, is now just six weeks away, with tickets already selling briskly.

Rehearsals started a month ago and already everyone knows what to say, what to sing, where to be and when! That’s just as well, as our director Alison Lawrence has just taken time off to take another of her productions to the Edinburgh Fringe and musical director Paul Ooi currently on professional tour. It’s another indication that with Simply Theatre you get amateur theatre at its most professional But the cast still have work to do - now it’s down to memorising lines, working on characterisation, tuning interactions and polishing performance.

There are over 30 in the performers as well as a skilled team of musicians, technicians & backstage support. We will be introducing you to some of them here over the next few weeks.

We are hoping for a sell-out so book early - You can book here.

No Day But Today