Interview – Liam Tamne chats about being challenged in Working at Southwark Playhouse

Liam Tamne in rehearsals for Working at the Southwark Playhouse, London. Pictures: Robert Workman

LIAM TAMNE is currently appearing in Stephen Schwartz’s genre-busting Broadway musical Working which is having its European premiere at London’s Southwark Playhouse in June.

Directed by Luke Sheppard, the new production of the show runs at the south London venue until 8 July.

One of the first musicals from Schwartz, the composer of the multi award-winning Wicked, Working employs a range of musical styles and genres from a number of leading composers including five-time Grammy Award winner James Taylor and the multi-award winning creator of Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda.

Based on Studs Terkel’s best-selling book of interviews with the American workforce Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do, the show debuted on Broadway in 1978.

Having trained at Laine Theatre Arts, Liam Tamne most recently starred as Frank ‘N’ Furter in The Rocky Horror Picture Show (UK tour). His other theatre credits include Raoul in The Phantom of the Opera (Her Majesty’s Theatre), Enjolras in Les Misérables (Queen’s Theatre) and Link Larkin in Hairspray (Shaftesbury Theatre).

Other credits include: Departure Lounge (Waterloo East), Hair (Gielgud Theatre) and first cover Fiyero in Wicked. Liam was part of team Will.I.Am on BBC’s The Voice in 2013.

Liam Tamne (centre) in Working

Here he is in conversation with Rebecca Gordon.

How was your opening week?

Opening week was fantastic, so much fun and the reaction has been so overwhelming. It’s my first show at Southwark Playhouse and it’s been a beautiful experience.

It must be exciting to be involved in the European premiere of Working. What appealed to you about the show before you joined? 

I think it was the fact that I would be involved in something being re-created, and working with director Luke Sheppard and choreographer Fabian Aloise really excited me.

Working has been called a ‘genre defining musical’ – how would you describe it? 

It is a verbatim piece of musical theatre at its best. It’s real people talking about their jobs and about how ordinary people should be heard. With everything that is happening politically, it probably has never been so relevant. It’s a superb piece of theatre.

The show focuses on American ‘ordinary’ workers that are overlooked –  how can the play speak to a London audience?  

I think this show can appeal to any audience, no matter where you work in the world. After all, working is working right? That’s what we all do to make a living: to survive and achieve. So, whether it’s America, UK, Spain, Australia, it’s all the same. We all have a job and we all have a voice.

(left to right) Liam Tanme, Siubhan Harrison, Gillian Bevan and Peter Polycarpou in Working

You play a number of different characters in the show – which character did you connect with the most? 

I do play a lot of characters, seven in total. I actually don’t identify with any of them. I enjoy playing them for that reason, as they are so opposites to me, and I love to be challenged.

How does Working compare to other musical theatre shows that you have been in? 

It’s so different compared to other shows I’ve done, as I’m not taking over from somebody. We are creating a new version that has never been done before. I love that. I think as an actor you need to stimulate your creativity and mind to know this is what you want to do for the rest of your life.

What is your favourite number in Working? 

My favourite number is actually ‘Brother Trucker’ (by James Taylor) as I think it’s so fun and uplifting and great to watch. I’m not actually in that number but Dean [Chisnall] and the six ensemble members really make that song pop!

What part would you love to play that you haven’t had the chance to play already? 

I would love to be in The Light in the Piazza and any Sondheim or Rodgers and Hammerstein shows.

What is next for you after Working?

Back to auditioning, but spending time with family and friends is needed before my next job.

Readers may also be interested in:

Working – Southwark Playhouse – Review


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