Best-known for playing the troublesome Steven Beale in the BBC’s long-running drama EastEnders, actor Aaron Sidwell is, once again, taking his talents to the stage, playing Michael in Cool Rider – the cult musical sequel to the iconic Grease which is back in the West End for one week only, at the Duchess Theatre. His theatre credits includes Michael Dork in Loserville at the Garrick Theatre, Jack Sprat in the tour of Carnaby Street, Ham in Children of Eden at the Prince of Wales Theatre and Kyle Gibson in The Prodigals at the Gilded Balloon, Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
In Cool Rider Sidwell plays the unlikely lover who embarks on a motorcycle ride to romance. His love interest, Stephanie, is played by former star of Wicked Ashleigh Gray. The production runs from 15–19 April.
Musical Theatre Review’s Polly Sisley caught up with Sidwell.
What do you like about the character of Michael, do you admire him?
No, I don’t admire him. He changes everything about himself to try and get a girl! But he’s a really fun character; he’s shy but also quite confident in himself. He’s great fun to play in that respect and I get to be this guy in leather, which is really fun – a mysterious, cool character.
What has been the difference in your approach to playing Cool Rider’s Michael and EastEnder’s Steven Beale?
They’re completely different characters. My approach for Steven was to get as worked up as possible. On stage, I have a very different approach anyway. I guess my preparation for Michael is to exercise a lot, so my performance levels can hopefully be higher. I need to look after myself.
You’re a family man. How do you find balancing family and work life?
It’s fine. It’s not always the easiest thing in the world. It takes a lot of hard work to make sure I’m leaving as much time as possible to give to the kids, but I think I find it as easy as anybody does.
How does working in theatre compare to your experience on working in TV and which do you prefer?
I don’t think I prefer either. They both have their positives. In TV, you tend to work closer to two or three people, but in theatre you seem to spend time with everyone involved. Your bond is more universal throughout the whole group. I think it depends on where you are. On tour you seem to be closer, because they’re your family.
What advice would you give someone who wants to get into theatre?
It’s hard work. You’ve got to be prepared to work every hour under the sun. You have to constantly be working to improve yourself. Keep improving your skills as much as you can and try and do as many things as possible.
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