Will sun shine on al fresco show? Heaven knows! ; Reality TV show winner Matthew Goodgame talks to Lizz Brain about his role in an open-air production of Cole Porter classic Anything Goes
With his sea legs on and his dancing shoes shined, Matthew Goodgame is ready for a life on the ocean waves and a home on the rolling seas of south Leicestershire this summer. The allsinging, all-dancing pro plays Billy in Cole Porter's classic, Anything Goes, at Kilworth House Theatre next week.
If climbing aboard the SS American on stage wasn't enough, he'll be staying on a canal boat during the run.
Call it method acting, he laughs. My foster brother owns a kind of speed-cumcanal boat, so I'll be seeking solitude on the river somewhere near to the theatre. I haven't a clue where yet, though. Is there water close to Kilworth? If you recognise Matthew's face, you will probably have seen him on Channel 4 reality show, Musicality, a competition to find the next big theatre star. He was one of the winners in 2004.
Wow, it was an out-of-body experience, just incredible, he says. Back then, it wasn't a public voting programme, but more a documentary.
I had no experience of showbusiness.
I'd done a few amateur productions, nothing on any scale like this.
When it came to the finals, there were 10 people left and we thought they were looking for just one winner.
EMI was there and the winner got to record an album at Abbey Road studios, where the Beatles recorded in. Wow.
They ended up picking five winners, the prize, to play a lead role - for one night only - in a West End musical. That show was Chicago and Matthew played Billy Flynn.
I was 24 then and the youngest ever to play the role, he says, proudly.
That stage entrance, surrounded by six beautiful girls calling out my name and wafting feather fans in my face - and the wave of noise that came from the audience - oh, my goodness, it was a life- changing moment.
Since then, Matthew has quit his day job as a primary school teacher and launched himself into musical theatre.
It was a gamble, he says - one that made him feel sick - but he knew he had to give it a shot.
The negative side of not being formally trained, well, people often talk about dance steps I've never heard of, he laughs. But once they've shown me, I can mimic well and manage.
On the positive side, I'm quite easy to mould, there are no preconceptions or limitations. In the decade or so since his reality show triumph, Matthew has reprised the role of Billy Flynn on visits to Singapore and Las Vegas with the Cellophane Company; appeared in the West End production of Dirty Dancing and was Kenickie in Grease, before taking over from Hear'Say's Noel Sullivan in the lead role of Danny Zuko.
I'm still in touch with Lauren Samuels, she's lovely, he says. (Lauren is from Hinckley and played Sandy to Matthew's Danny).
She came from a reality show, too and is so down to earth.
I never thought I'd get the chance to play John Travolta, he smiles. I thought I was over the hill.
By the time I played Pharoah - another Elvis lookalike - in Joseph, I'd got styling my quiff down to seven minutes from half an hour! Matthew is no stranger to Kilworth House, either. He sang in the Orangery a couple of Christmases ago and has been asked back again this festive season.
So to Anything Goes. The show goes on, come rain or shine at Kilworth House outdoor theatre. Right now, the sun has got his hat on in Leicestershire. Fingers crossed it stays that way.
It's a lovely theatre, but I think with outdoor performance, you have to make it bigger and draw the audience in, because of the elements and the distractions of birds tweeting or a squirrel running across the stage, says Matthew.
Anything Goes is an old school musical, a story following the lovers, liars and pranksters on a transatlantic cruise, with the style of Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly and the music and lyrics of Cole Porter.
The team behind the production has created something really special, says Matthew.
This could be my most challenging role yet. I'm really enjoying playing Billy. He's hilarious. I don't want to give too much away, but he gets into situations and further and further into trouble and of course, he tries to sing and dance his way out.
It's quite literally a farce, with beautiful music and lyrics.
I'd challenge anyone not to laugh out loud.
info ANYTHING GOES is on at Kilworth House Theatre from August 6 - September 1. For tickets, call 01858 881 939. www.kilworthhousetheatre.co.uk
The negative side of not being formally trained? People often talk about dance steps I've never heard of!
I'm really enjoying playing Billy. He's hilarious
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