SAVE The Last Dance For Me is touring the country and the nostalgic, feel-good musical features Consett-born actor Chris Coxon.
The star spoke to Marie Westmoreland about his role in the show.
Marie: Save The Last Dance For Me has received some great reviews. How are you finding it?
Chris: It’s great. I’m really loving doing it. It’s a pleasure to play all of the great music from the early 60s. Some of it is a little bit obscure, but some of the obscure ones are now some of my favourites.
Can you tell me a bit about your character?
I play a young airman called Jonny from New York and play in the air force band. I play the bass guitar throughout the show.
What is your favourite scene in the show?
The end scene. There’s a big happy ending, but I won’t spoil it for you. We get to play the title track, Save The Last Dance For Me, at the end of the show.
There’s also a fun little scene in act one, where we are all trying to convince one of the girls that one of the other guys has got a Chevrolet, when he actually hasn’t.
Were you a fan of 60s music before you got a role in the show?
I was. I grew up on it really. It was all the music of my dad’s era, so he played a lot of that stuff to me when I was a kid.
I listened to it before I discovered more popular music. Just before doing this job, I was working on Dreamboats and Petticoats which is by the same writers (Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran), so I have got a great love for this sort of music. I’ve been playing it for years – it’s been my bread and butter really.
Do you have a favourite song?
I think my favourite song is 1,2,3, which is sung by Len Barry – because I get to play a good bass solo.
Is the music important to you?
It is. It’s been a big part of my life for the past two or three years. I trained to be an actor and I still love that I get to be an actor, but I really enjoy playing music as well.
What do you make of 60s fashion?
Well, the only costume I wear for the whole show is an authentic 1963 American airmen uniform, which is great. I feel very smart. I love the short hair, the quiffs and all those sort of things. I’ve always had a thing for rockabilly type fashion.
You’ve played Darlington Civic Theatre and are set to play Sunderland Empire. Is it nice to see the tour venturing up north?
It is as there are not many big touring companies that come up north which is a shame, as I could get to stay at home.
It is a shame that the region doesn’t get a lot of the big shows – apart from the Sunderland Empire. There are plenty of other venues. Durham Gala is close to my heart, I was working there when I was a kid.
You’ve already made your West End debut – how does London theatre compare to touring?
It’s great. I loved working in the West End and the prestige of being in the West End, but touring can actually be a great deal of fun.
It’s kind of like being on holiday. The hours we work aren’t actually that long so if you are in a nice city, you can spend the day doing whatever you want and go and visit tourist attractions. But it does take up a lot of your life because you are tied to being in that city. There are pros and cons, the con is you don’t get to do any of the other things you would normally do in your life.
How do you and other cast members unwind after such a lively show?
I’m pretty dull. All of the cast members go out partying, but I tend to go home and have a cup of tea and watch a film. I’ve been touring for quite a long time and I’ve got all the partying out of my system, I think.
In addition to acting, what do you see yourself doing career-wise after the tour, could you see yourself moving towards music?
Potentially, but at the moment I’m very happy doing what I am doing. What I love about my career is I don’t know where my job is going to be in the next six months.
It’s scary, but it’s also incredibly exciting. I could be doing anything, film, TV, a new tour or the West End – so it is very exciting.
l Save The Last Dance For Me comes to the Sunderland Empire from May 14 to 19. For tickets call 0844 871 3022 or book online at www.ATGtickets.com/Sunderland