Every so often, performers come into my life that I think are so talented and brilliant I’m ashamed I haven’t discovered them sooner. Alex Gaumond is one such performer; my first opportunity to see him live came in March of last year with a trip to Matilda where he played Trunchbull, and later that same year as Freddy in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. Since that time, I have been desperate to see Alex onstage again in some shape or form, and that chance came this past Sunday with a trip to the Charing Cross Theatre for Singular Sensations. For those of you who don’t know, Singular Sensations are a series of concerts in which Writer, Broadcaster, Podcaster & musical theatre enthusiast Edward Seckerson sits down with a star of the West End and interviews them about their career, with a sprinkling of music for good measure. This was my second outing to one of these (the first being Julian Ovenden’s back in February) and what I love about them is how intimate, relaxing and engaging they are, thanks to Seckerson’s charming enthusiasm and insightful questions. They offer a glimpse to the side of a performer that one doesn’t always get to see, and I’d recommend them to anyone.
The overwhelming feeling I had from Alex’s choice of set is how much I admire his versatility as an actor and how he challenges himself with an incredibly diverse set of roles in his career. In this one set alone, we had songs from Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Chess, Top Hat, Matilda, The Full Monty, Jason Robert Brown’s Someone to Fall Back On, and one of Alex’s own songs: A Song about Nothing at All. Latin’s Know How from Top Hat was a special treat as I couldn’t get to see him in the show, and as a character Beddini is just wonderfully, gloriously flamboyant. Alex’s characterisation in this one particularly had me in fits of laughter and plastered a silly grin on my face. To hear him revisit Trunchbull for Smell of Rebellion was quite something: he donned his whistle, the jacket came off, and in a particularly admirable and amusing feat of dedication, borrowed some steps from the nearby gym! What I noticed during the latter two songs especially but also throughout the afternoon as a whole was how tremendously and wholeheartedly he throws himself into becoming the characters he plays; he’s a genius at acting through song and totally captivated me.
Anthem from Chess is a favourite of mine from the world of musical theatre anyway, so it was just fantastic to hear another favourite voice of mine sing it. The film version of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers was the one that ignited my passion for musical theatre, and I can’t wait to see Alex lead the company as Adam with Laura Pitt – Pulford as Milly at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre’s production of the show later this summer; if his rendition here of Bless Your Beautiful Hide was anything to go by, the show in its entirety is going to blow my mind.
Many of the performers I admire from their musical theatre background are also incredibly gifted songwriters, and Alex is no exception to the rule. To hear one of his own songs was amazing, and I hope he decides to show/make more of it in the future. It was also fascinating to hear that he’d like to mix in more straight acting alongside the musical theatre, and I would be incredibly happy for him to juggle these three. As well as performing some amazing songs, Alex also told some great stories, all with the warmth, easy charm and wonderful humour I know and love him for, my favourites included his audition for We Will Rock You in front of Ben Elton and Queen royalty, Sheridan Smith & her bunny onesie, and his interview for drama school. He and Edward shared a very easy and likeable rapport, and the questions he asked and Alex’s answers meant the smile was never far from my lips, and I thank them both for an awesome afternoon. I can’t wait for my next, apparently I’m a ‘loyal attendee’now, much to my delight and amusement given that both our host and the lady at the theatre box office recognise me! It was also a pleasure to meet Norman Bowman, a fellow actor and pal of Alex’s who I have also had the pleasure of seeing on stage (though to my shame I forgot to tell him this!) and last but not least: a huge thankyou to Alex for his neverending patience, warmth and good humour as I rambled on: it was, as always a delight.