Talking Theatre: Danny Mac Discussing Sunset Boulevard at WMC - Part 2
Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Tony Award® winning masterpiece Sunset Boulevard comes to Wales Millennium Centre this February. The show features Ria Jones, who received standing ovations every night when performing at the London Coliseum, as Norma Desmond and Strictly Come Dancing’s Danny Mac as Joe Gillis.
In the second part of an interview with actor Danny Mac, Simon Button chats with him about appearing on Strictly Come Dancing, touring and visiting Cardiff!
What's your fondest memory of doing Strictly?
It's got to be the dance routines I was able to produce each week, which constantly reminds me now of things I'm able to do even though I might not think I can. That's something I'll always take from doing that show.
If I'd been asked to play Joe Gillis before I'd done Strictly I'd probably have said no simply through fear that I couldn't do it and a million people could do it better. But this role, as far as I'm concerned, belongs to me and I own it. I don't mean that in a cocky or arrogant way, but if you don't walk out there and own that role you're doing the piece and the rest of the cast a disservice as well as yourself. That's something I've learned – to take something and run with it – because you only get these big chances once in your life and you have to seize them. This is something I've been working for since I was a kid.
It's been a funny journey for me and there's been many times where you feel you need to apologise for what you've done, but when look at it from a different side and you're proud of it you're like 'This is what I'm qualified in, this is what I trained in, this is what I've worked towards and I should never apologise for that'. I learned that from Strictly and it's been a complete joy since then and I've had the best time because of it.
Do you think you'd have had the confidence to do On The Town if you hadn't done Strictly?
I don't think I would have, no. Working at the Regent's Park Open Air Theatre was something I'd dreamed of ever since I was at college and saw a show there. I said 'I have to perform here' because it's the most magical place.
My life has been a sort of series of distant dreams that I've progressed slowly towards until they become a reality and when they're there right in front of me I can't quite realise how I got there. You just have to take that final jump and as you get older that journey can't take quite so long. That's what I'm realising – that I need to be jumping a lot earlier rather than tentatively walking towards things. That's just a part of growing up and maybe if I hadn't done that I wouldn't have been able to earn the respect of my colleagues and peers.
Although a lot of people might not know that I started in theatre and might think I'm just a celebrity name in a show, it's a really proud moment when the people and critics who know I've done as much to earn my place on the stage as everyone else acknowledge that and praise you on behalf of it.
Are there advantages to doing a touring show in conventional theatres as opposed to performing in an open-air venue?
[Laughs] Yes, because the show will always go on. Working in Regent's Park was one of the most magical experiences ever and if I could block out the summer every year for the rest of my career to work there I'd happily do that. It's a bit scary actually because Gaby in On The Town did sing out to the audience quite a lot and it's a very different experience singing out to a bunch of people you can see to singing out to a darkened auditorium. It feels slightly safer in a darkened room than in the bright sunshine.
Having done lots of TV, are you now hooked on the buzz you can only get from a live audience?
I've always had that buzz, it's what made me want to be an actor, but I just did some filming for something that goes out around Christmas and I was surprised how much I loved being back on a TV set and how much I loved filming. It's nice to go and perform your craft and not have the fear that theatre creates. Every night there's that fear and that dread, although that also makes it really exciting.
What's the one thing you couldn't be on tour without?
I have to take my NutriBullet and my coffee machine. [Laughs] The fantastic thing about the former is that you can make all the healthy stuff in it and all the milkshakes as well as cocktails! But you can't make coffee in it so my Nespresso has to come with me too.
Do you have any pre- or post-show rituals?
I try and refrain because as soon as you create them as an actor you become addicted to them and so serious about them. You build up this whole list of things you have to do. I just do a warm-up and brush my teeth when I go on stage but that's about it. Then after a show I always have a shower. I have to wash the role away, it feels like. Shower, be me again, then I'm fresh to leave.
The tour calls at Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff. Does it have any significance for you?
I absolutely adore Cardiff and the theatre is one I've visited a couple of times. I've never performed there but I've been in the audience and it's stunning.
- Sunset Boulevard runs at Wales Millennium Centre from February 26 to March 3. Danny Mac will not be performing as Joe Gillis on Monday 26 February. For ticket information visit www.wmc.org.uk