Former Chichester Festival Youth Theatre member Mike Slader is riding high on the juke box musicals at the moment.
After success with Dreamboats and Petticoats, Mike is now touring the country with the new 60s-inspired musical Carnaby Street which takes in the Theatre Royal Brighton from October 14 -19.
“I am originally from Bognor Regis, but I spent most of my time in Chichester doing the youth theatre,” Mike recalls. “I joined when I was ten, and I think the first one I did was Treasure Island. I was there until I was 18 or 19.”
He then did a three-year actor-musicianship course at Rose Bruford.
“I came out and I was in a band for a bit, and then I was straight into the juke box musicals, doing Dreamboats and Petticoats. And now Carnaby Street (as a member of the band). They are great fun to do, but to be honest, I am trying to get into the acting side of things. I have done this for a couple of years now. I want a bit of an acting challenge.
“I have a few lines in Carnaby Street, and I love it. We are on tour with the show until the end of November. I was part of the original cast. We started in April, and it toured around.
“We had six weeks off over the summer. Some people moved on, but lots of people stayed. Now we are just touring around. It is great fun. I like working in a different place each week, and you get to see the UK and some lovely parts of Britain.”
The good thing is that most venues are near enough at the weekend to get back to London, where he now lives: “I also come back to spend a lot of time with my parents in Bognor.”
Looking back, Chichester Festival Youth Theatre was a terrific launch pad, he says: “I was a very nervous child. When I was a kid, I wasn’t confident at all, and then a very close friend of mine got me into the youth theatre, and I got more and more involved.”
He particularly remembers in 1998 joining the cast of the professional main-house production of Chimes At Midnight, in which Simon Callow played Falstaff.
“I turned 11 during that show, and they threw a birthday party for me in the green room. They did me a cake.”
But rather than specific shows, Mike remembers the friendship: “All the friends that I made are still my best friends. We had such a close group. We were doing the shows together, and there was also the social side.
“I remember Treasure Island a lot. I remember The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. And I did The Hobbit before that. I was a goblin! And then there were the St Cuthman’s shows.
“I saw the evolution of the youth theatre. They would do the Christmas shows in the Minerva and then the promenade shows at St Cuthman’s, and then it progressed to the main house.”
As for his own progression, Mike doesn’t know what is happening after the end of the Carnaby Street tour, but he is quite looking forward to the uncertainty.
“I would like to do some acting, but the world is so competitive. Most of my dear friends are the best actors I know and are out of work a lot. I have really enjoyed two years doing the jukebox musicals, but I am looking forward to the challenge of being out there again and going for auditions.”
Tickets for Carnaby Street on: www.atgtickets.com/venues/theatre-royal-brighton.