An actor's life: "I’m not one who can happily wing it"

Nicholas Pound is a professional actor/singer who has performed in theatre for over 35 years. He has played leading roles in Les Miserables, The Rocky Horror Show, Chess, Evita, Notre Dame de Paris and Man of La Mancha.

Saturday, 2nd October 2021, 7:05 am
Nicholas Pound

He has had a long association with the role of Old Deuteronomy in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats. He moved to Old Town in Eastbourne 5 years ago, having lived in Spain for 9 years where he was the founder of vocal harmony group Tres Divos and hosted his own weekly radio show The Sound of Musicals on Talk Radio Europe.

Nicholas shares his thoughts....

"I’ve always been a very organised person. Some (my partner) would say over organised. I like to do my research and prepare well ahead of time. Above all……I absolutely hate being late, for anything. I’m not a particularly spontaneous person, I don’t like being surprised by something I wasn’t expecting. That’s probably why I was never very comfortable in improvisation classes at drama school. I always preferred studying a text, learning the lines, thinking about a characterisation well ahead of time and then performing. But I’ve discovered recently to my chagrin that in my career, as well as in life, over-preparation doesn’t always produce the desired results.

"So, I took the plunge and booked flights to Malaga to reconnect with friends we haven’t seen in over 2 years. I was quite anxious about the various Covid protocols in place both for arriving into Spain and returning to the UK. The online form-filling, downloading and printing, checking and double-checking all details. Googling pharmacies and clinics in Malaga that offer the required 72-hour pre-departure antigen test with valid certificate to present at the airport. Most important for my Be Prepared Boy Scout brain was to get my hands on a not-overly-priced Day 2 PCR test for our return.

"I’d read the stories in the press about the over-inflated prices that some of these unregulated companies were charging and I didn’t want to pay more for the test kit than the flights! So, I was pleased to use the airline’s discount code with their recommended company and purchased 2 tests for under £100. Result! Or so I thought until 2 days later, when the government announced proposed relaxations to the re-entry requirements. So, I’d potentially just wasted the best part of £100 on PCR tests that I might not need any more. Damn my over efficiency!

"I’ve always believed in showing up for an audition well prepared. I do my best to learn any script or songs that have been sent as thoroughly as possible. I’m not one who can happily ‘wing it’.

"A few years ago, I was auditioning for a role in a certain well-known and hugely successful West End musical – the one with the green witch. Knowing how formulaic American directors of well-established shows tend to be, and having learned the song they wanted me to sing for my recall, I did my research and watched several YouTube clips of actors performing said song in various productions around the world. As I expected, whatever language they were singing in, all the original choreography, the moves, even hand gestures were replicated the world over. So, this is exactly what they’ll expect me to do at my audition, right? I painstakingly taught myself the whole routine. Wrong! When I came to sing the song, I announced I’d be performing the set-in-stone, tried-and -tested choreography. “Oh, we’d rather you didn’t.” said the resident director, “We like to see each actor bring something different to the piece.” Not bold enough to point out that every actor I’d researched repeats every single movement, I gave a rather confused and half-hearted rendition of the song. There’s nothing worse than trying to spontaneously undo everything you’ve ingrained into your memory. Needless to say, the job was not to be mine.

"Better news though on my suspected over-preparation for the Spanish trip: pre-departure antigen test in Malaga no longer required, and Day 2 PCR tests still in place until the end of October, so no money wasted after all. Happy days!"