Phil Adele is a trained Actor from Italia Conti (BA Acting) that is currently in Frankfurt, Germany preforming in a play called Hand Bagged but most recently was touring the UK with The UK tour of Little Shop Of Horrors.
Phil kindly agreed for me to interview him about his time on tour but also how his acting has taken him all over the UK and now abroad.
You can follow Phil on twitter at : @philadelephia
So did you always know you wanted to be an actor? How did you pursue this?
Actually, for a long time, Music was my main focus. As a kid, I was in the same school Musicals that everyone seemed to be in but I loved nothing more than Singing and creating and listening to Music. Acting almost crept up on me alongside it. When I was at Sixth Form, I had a rough time which sidetracked me a bit and it was only then that I started looking at Drama Schools as my interest and passion for Acting started to take hold and I’ve not looked back since. Luckily, I still get to do a lot with Music and all of my work and experience with that has proved very helpful in my career.
Did going to a drama school help prepare you for the industry and give you all the skills?
I can’t say it gave me “all the skills” because there are so many different styles and techniques and theories on Acting that you really learn the most once you leave. What Drama School did was teach fundamental technique in Voice, Movement and Acting with a focus on being Vocally safe and versatile while always trying to be truthful in your work.
Nothing can really prepare you for the challenges that the industry presents and you can only learn by throwing yourself in the deep end. Drama School was invaluable for me but I think it’s still natural to leave and feel like you’re totally unprepared for many of the challenges that will be thrown at you. Every job I do and every cast or Director I work with teaches me something new and I hope that’s evident in my work which I feel gets better as I go!
So your most recent project was Touring with Little Shop of Horrors UK Tour. This took you around the whole of the UK. What is that like ?
I loved our version of Little Shop. We were lucky to have a fantastically talented cast, an awesome director in Tara and a fantastic creative team around us to help create a really vivid SkidRow. Touring itself is a challenge. Every week you’re in a different town, one of your days off is taken with travelling to the next venue and it can get exhausting pretty quickly.
That said, it was lovely to meet Theatre-goers from all over the UK, play some of the nicest theatres in Britain and feel the buzz for the show build as we did it.
I once did a tour for 15 months. Compared to that, Little Shop was a breeze!
You were understudy for many of the parts as it was a small cast including Seymour and Audrey II. Was it difficult remembering all the parts or was it an exciting challenge? Did you have any favourite understudy part you like playing?
It was an exciting challenge but also pretty daunting at first. There wasn’t much time at all in the original rehearsals to even start to look at all of the parts I had to cover so when we first started performing to audiences in Bournemouth, I was completely unprepared. If Sam had had to take time off in that week, I would’ve basically been going on blind.
We ran understudy rehearsals weekly while touring the show which helped us all get to grips with all of the various roles we were covering and eventually we were prepared for pretty much any eventuality.
Understudying is challenging but it’s part of the job and you do sometimes wonder if you’ll ever even get to go on at all.
My favourite understudy role was definitely Seymour. I had everything crossed that I’d get to go on and thankfully I did. It was an utter joy to play that part briefly and to sing those amazing songs. I’m still just really glad I never had to go on as Mushnik!
I think we are all dying to know what is it like sitting in a man eating plant! How did you move the plant and what was it like in there ?
The plant had 4 different forms as it grew and became more insatiable in it’s hunger.
It’s the biggest form of it that always had people scratching their head and much of what I did when I was in there was attempting to replicate what Josh Wilmott had already created with it. He was able to give it such a vivid personality that synced perfectly with Neil Nicholas’ vocals and I ended up having a lot of fun for a few weeks I was in it.
You had to crawl through a small hatch in the bottom of the on-stage counter and through into the base of the plant. Then, you shuffled round and stood upright. Once in there, it was actually pretty cosy! There was a handle on either side of you and if you pressed them down, the mouth would open. Pulling them up, closed it but due to the sheer size of it, it made lip-syncing a challenge and it was a very physical task. Then you could control it like an airplane to turn it and lift it etc.
It was an amazingly well designed puppet and despite it being quite a physical task, we both got quite attached to our Audrey II!
Both Josh and I built up a stamina for it but I remember my arms being dead after the first show in there.
So currently your abroad in Frankfurt, Germany performing in Hand Bagged at The English Theatre. Can you tell us about this?
Sure. It’s a really interesting piece (very different to Little Shop!) written by Moira Buffini and it explores the relationship of The Queen and Margaret Thatcher during her time as PM. It’s very well written and challenges perceptions of both characters. I’m playing 9 different roles in the piece, all of which are real Political figures so it was an intense rehearsal process for me.
It’s actually a pretty humorous piece too which I think is vital. Otherwise, we’re just talking politics AT people for 2 hours.
Audiences so far have been very receptive and one of my favorite things about doing a piece like this is that it incites vital discussion. We’ve already had political debates with audience members in the bar who lived through her time as PM and felt the effects first-hand and it’s nice for us to know that the piece is really resonating with people.
As we can tell you have travelled a lot with you career as an actor. What is it like traveling around as an actor even to different countries ? Is it a big part of being an actor?
I think all Actors are prepared for the fact that work could come from anywhere and since the nature of the industry leaves people waiting considerable amounts of time for opportunities, most are very much open to working all over the UK for the right job.
If I’d said ‘No, I’m only going to work in London’, my career wouldn’t have built the way it has so far and there’s still a long way to go.
Also, I see it as genuinely exciting that I don’t know where the next job will take me. In January, I had no idea I’d be spending my 30th Birthday doing a play in Frankfurt in March. That’s exciting. Not everywhere you get to go is glamorous, however, and when you’ve been out touring a while and you end up in a not-do desirable place, it can be hard to stay excited and motivated but ultimately, once you’re on stage in front of an Audience, it could be anywhere and none of that matters.
Once, “Handbagged” is finished, I’ll be back in London and hopefully some auditions will come my way. Who knows what they will be and where I’ll end up next!
And finally a must ask question what is your advice to anyone who wants to become and actor but is worried about jobs and also having travel ?
I hate to say it, but I don’t know an Actor that isn’t worried about their next job.
There are no guarantees and fighting to even get an opportunity is probably the biggest challenge in the industry.
It’s not even about converting the audition into a job, it’s about getting that audition in the first place and that is much more complex and difficult that it appears from the outside.
So my advice to anyone who is thinking about becoming an Actor is to make sure it’s what you want and that you’re passionate about it. Be a sponge and learn all you can. Go see shows, notice what you like and what you don’t and never stop working to improve yourself.
Drama School is great to give you a fantastic platform to build off and you’ll learn a lot that will be invaluable so I’d recommend that to anyone as long as it’s the right Drama School.
Also, prepare yourself for sacrifices. Most Actors spend most of their time NOT ACTING. Unless you’re incredibly lucky, you’ll have several day-jobs that you probably don’t care about, you’ll have less money than you’d like and you never know where the next job is coming from.I’m not trying to scare people away from Acting, but people need to know that they won’t just go to Drama School and then magically find themselves on a stage in front of 2,000 people. That said, when you do get to do that, it’s the best feeling in the world because you know that’s where you belong and that you bloody earned it!
So, my ultimate advice is that if you want it, go for it and never stop working for it. Don’t listen to people who tell you what you can’t do and always fight what what makes you happy.
Thank you so much Phil Adele for taking time to answer my questions and we hope that your current production goes well.