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Really Useful People - Adam Ellis
Adam Ellis

Welcome to our new feature where we get to find out about the people connected to Really Useful and/or the musicals of Andrew Lloyd Webber. In the first instalment our blogger polishes his “Rusty” interview techniques…

Our first subject is performer Adam Ellis. Adam graduated from Laine Theatre Arts in 2003 and has been in Barnum, Do I Hear A Waltz and The Pirates Of Penzance over the last few years. Most notably Adam has appeared in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Starlight Express

both in Germany and on the UK tour where he holds the distinction of being the last person to perform the lead role of “Rusty”.

To begin I asked Adam if he could remember the first musical he ever saw, and if this influenced him in pursuing a career in theatre:

Yep, it was Tommy on tour, can’t remember much about it to be honest, but the first West End musical I saw was Miss Saigon at Drury Lane and watching this definitely was the decider that I wanted to be an actor. Just a great cast, beautiful story and music.

Are there any other shows that had an influence?

When I was auditioning for Colleges here in London I watched Starlight Express and I honestly remember thinking playing Rusty would be my dream part.

What do you recall of the first role you ever played? (And school plays count!) 

Well my stage debut was as the all-singing all-dancing Donkey in a school production of Meredith the Camel!! I received great critical acclaim for that. Professionally my first job was Tom Thumb in Barnum. I left college a few weeks early to start rehearsals, it was all very exciting and new and I just remember thinking “I’m actually doing this now as a living”. Great Job but it didn’t make me want to join the circus.

In the world of theatre who has inspired you?

Performers would have to include Peter Joback, Daniel Evans, Jenna Russel, Ruthie Henshall, Idena Menzel, Joanna Riding, Bernadette Peters, Adam Pascal, but there are so many other great performers I’ve seen who have truly moved me and made me realise why I love this profession. 

If you could play any role in any Andrew Lloyd Webber musical which one would you choose?

Well getting the chance to play Rusty in Starlight Express was a dream role for me and one I’d always wanted to play.

Who would you like as your co-star and why?

I loved working with Jane Horn who played Pearl with me, we had such a great time and she is so talented. I’d love to work with Bernadette Peters in something too.

You have performed as Rusty in Starlight Express many times, what did you enjoy most about the experience?

My Rusty journey started as an understudy, I did get on quite a lot but actually getting asked to be Rusty in the Final UK cast was amazing. Singing Starlight Express every night was amazing and the last night was really emotional.

What were the major differences between performing in Starlight Express in Germany and the UK?

I never played Rusty in Germany but being involved in the German production is far more about the spectacle, it’s HUGE!! It was really daunting when I first got there having never skated, and it was also very strange singing in German. The UK tour for me was far more about telling the story of the show and introducing the characters in it. However the audiences seemed to love the 3D goggles and races and I honestly didn’t miss racing one little bit, the show is hard enough anyway.

If someone was going to see Starlight Express in Bochum  where should they go to eat?

Well there is a street there called Kortum St which is a long pedestrian street full of café’s and restaurants. My faves (if they are still there – because  I was there in 2005) were Salsilitos, and The Living Room.

What show tune most sums you up?

“Why Should I Wake Up?” from Cabaret, it’s good to dream.

Outside the world of theatre who inspires you and why?

Cliché, but true: my parents. They have been so supportive of everything I’ve done.

If you weren’t a performer what do you think you would be?

A door to door salesman.

What makes you really happy and why?

Sunshine, being with my mates on holiday, and a bottle of Corona. Sometimes being in this business we get so wrapped up in what’s coming next we forget to enjoy what we are doing now.

What makes you really angry and why?

People walking slowly in London taking up the entire pavement drives me mad. Mad I tell you!!!

Shoes or Skates?

Shoes are more practical but skates are much quicker!

Spring or Autumn?

Spring every time because Summer is on the way.

Summer or Scarlet?

Haha, of the Strallen Variety?? Scarlet is great but Summer is a really great friend of mine so of course I’d pick her, and she’s a great Maria in The Sound of Music!

Where do you see yourself in ten years time?

Hollywood as an A-list Actor. Well someone has to be!

Do you know the way to San Jose?

No, but google maps are very informative

And finally can you share a handy household hint with us?

A happy working song really does help get those chores done.

Posted on: 10th June 2008

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