When Andy Reiss stood on stage with Stafford Operatic Society some 20 years ago singin If Ever I Would Leave You little did he know how prophetic those words were.
Months after playing Lancelot in the group’s production of Camelot he was treading the boards in the West End in one of theatreland’s most enduring shows.
The Hilderstone-based singer/actor, also a stalwart of Rugeley Operatic Society decided on a whim to audition for Les Miserables in London’s West End.
When he got the call to say he would be getting a 12-month contract he quit his job with Rugeley social services’ childcare team and headed for the bright lights.
“I was doing any piece of work I could do then this came up,” he said.
“I honestly thought I would be away for a year. They gave me a 12 month contract so I thought I would get it out of my system. I had no formal training, I didn’t go to drama school or have singing lessons. All I knew was what was in my head and in my heart.”
That stint led to a career-long association with the show which saw him become the first person to act in and direct the show at the same time.
He has appeared in touring productions and appeared in the 10th anniversary concert at the Royal Albert Hall.His other credits include playing Che in Evita, Chess, Annie and Jekyll and Hyde.
In 1999 he set up his own production - Beyond the Barricade featuring songs from the musicals, a venture which sprung from his fundraising days with a group called ovation which raised more than £300,000 over 10 years.
I went down to London not knowing anything about the business and joined this cast of people I had been to see the year before with Ovation. It was surreal.”
Fore more from the interview plus some footage from the Beyond the Barricade show, watch the video clip below:
Video by Yasamin Saeidi.
Beyond the Barricade started life in Stafford Gatehouse Theatre and it will return to its spiritual home for one night on Saturday, October 26.
Tickets are £18.50 from the box office on 01785 254653 or www.staffordgatehousetheatre.co.uk.