Tyrone Huntley is preparing to reprise his role of Judas in the Regents Park Open Air production of Jesus Christ Superstar. The acclaimed production will be in performance during London’s summer – August 11th/23rd – and once again this production of Jesus Chris Superstar will be directed by Timothy Sheader.
In a spare moment Tyrone Huntley took the time to answer some of questions I put to him about his role of Judas, playing such an iconic role, and his own ambitions as a writer…
Tyrone is currently performing as a cast member of Dreamgirls, and this month Tyrone also won the ‘Best Actor’ award at the Mousetrap Awards, voted for by an audience of 15-23 year olds and earlier this year also received a coveted Olivier Award and What’s On Stage nominations for ‘Judas’.
Originally from Lincoln, Tyrone graduated from Mountview with a first class honours degree in Musical Theatre and whilst performing a grueling schedule in the ‘Book Of Mormon’ he studied, and was awarded a distinction for his Graduate Diploma in Law from The University of Huddersfield!
John Bowles: What has been your relationship to the musical Jesus Christ Superstar?
Tyrone Huntley: I actually didn’t know the piece very well at all before I was cast in the show. I’d obviously heard the music – you can’t avoid songs like Gethsemene and Heaven on their Minds at Drama school! I also saw the arena tour a few years ago as I had friends in it. You can’t not appreciate the piece – the songs alone have such an impact. But it wasn’t until I started audition for the show that I began to understand just how epic and special the show is.
It was written so long ago and has made an enormous impact on so many careers. What did you feel when you were offered the opportunity to play such an iconic role in arguably one of the greatest musicals of all time?
Yes, it’s hard to believe that the show was originally produced just short of half a century ago! And if you see our version of the show, thanks to the genius of Tom Deering (Musical Supervisor), the music sounds like it could have been written yesterday. I went through a range of emotions when I was offered the role but I’d say that I mostly bounced back and forth between crippling fear and giddy excitement! I just didn’t want to mess it up!
You have worked in the Regents Park Open Air Theatre in the past, in Porgy & Bess, how does the venue differ, from your perspective, from a more traditional theatre setting? Are there any particular obstaclesto overcome? Are their any great advantages to the open-air setting?
Of the theatres I’ve worked in, Regent’s Park is definitely the most unique. I had the best time working on Porgy and Bess and returning last year for JCS did not disappoint either. It can be a little distracting at first when a helicopter or aeroplane flys over head (typically in the most quiet, intimate moments of the show!) but you eventually desensitise to it and there is something quite magical about being vulnerable to the elements and wildlife around you. More than in any other theatre, each and every show is completely different which keeps everyone on their toes and makes it much easier to keep performances fresh.
What inspires you to write? Do you write lyrics and music? Do you have collaborators?
I’m inspired by random things that happen in my everyday life. I wrote a song a few years ago that started life as an ode to my lost phone… it ended up being a love song! Usually, I write the lyrics and melodies simultaneously before using my limited piano skills to work out chord structures. I’m growing in confidence and when I have the time I hope to start taking my writing a bit more seriously with an aim to collaborate with skilled musicians/producers who can take my work to the next level.
You have played a very varied selection of roles? What has been the most challenging role for you?
Playing Judas required me to be more disciplined than I ever had been on the jobs that preceded it. The material that I had to sing was extremely demanding and in a rocky style that I hadn’t been used to singing in before so the main challenge was maintaining a strong and healthy voice whilst producing a dangerous, edgy sound that was suitable for the piece. With only a week between the end of JCS and the beginning of Dreamgirls, it was also a bit of a challenge adjusting back into a more R&B style for a role that couldn’t be further from Judas!
Having been the recipient of so many awards and nominations, does it place pressure on you to be on everyone’s radar?
It’s been such an amazing experience and I’m so grateful to everyone who has contributed to honouring me with such prestigious accolades. The pressure comes from not wanting to let those people down. Being on everyone’s radar is not the goal for me, I just have a strong (sometimes debilitating) need for those who do know me and watch me perform to enjoy it.
What is your favourite musical? And Why?
I don’t think I could choose one. Fame (the original film, not the musical), West Side Story and Little Shop of Horrors were pretty much the only musicals I knew growing up and so watching them gives me a warm sense of nostalgia which puts them high on my list.
Have you always had a dream role you would like to play? A role that stands out above all others?
In short, no. My Dream role changes depending on which role I’m auditioning for at the time!
LTUK wishes Tyrone all the best for the production, and we look forward to seeing him, along with all of his loyal fans.