When a young Mark Newnham was pipped to the post to play Oliver in a production by Worthing Musical Comedy Society, it could have been curtains for his acting future.
But he is having the last laugh after bagging a lead role in one of the hottest shows.
Mark, 30, from Lancing, is playing the hell-raising rocker Dave Davies in the UK tour of Sunny Afternoon, an Olivier award-winning musical about The Kinks.
Having travelled around the country, Mark will settle at the Theatre Royal in Brighton with his fellow cast-mates for a Christmas run from December 13-31.
He said that for the first time since graduating from Rose Bruford College in Kent, he will be back at the family home in Lancing with his mum Yvonne and his dad Alan while the Brighton leg of the tour is running.
“I’ve not had a Christmas at home since becoming an actor. It’s hard when you’re doing panto all over the country, but I get to spend this one with family and hopefully I’ll get to catch up with friends.”
It’s like archaeology; you have to chip away at a character until you find the treasure underneathMark Newnham
Mark, who also plays guitar, said the role of Dave is his biggest to date. He has big shoes to fill, as George Maguire won an Olivier award when he played the part on the West End.
Mark said: “I saw him do it – he was fantastic and it made me want to play his part, but I’ve not gone at all in the same direction with the character.
“When you build a new character you’ve got to discard everything you’ve seen before. You have the music, the lyrics, and the script, and you go from there. It’s like archaeology; you have to chip away at it until you find the treasure underneath.”
Mark’s passion for acting began when he joined Worthing Musical Comedy Society, which he was a part of for 10 years.
His musical talents were also fostered there, and he ran the open mic night at the Sir Thomas A Becket pub in Worthing before starting one up at Rose Bruford.
In the show, Mark acts out some of Dave’s wilder moments – including being hit in the face with a drum pedal and swinging from a chandelier in a nightgown.
He said: “You get so hot onstage, so it’s quite nice to get a breeze when you are swinging around.”
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