This week on Throwback Thursday we speak to Josh Barnett who is currently performing in The Last Five Years at Southwark Playhouse.
1) What was your first ever show that you did as a kid, and what was it that got you into the theatre world?
My first ever show (apart from a Nativity…who didn’t do a nativity!?) was Bugsy Malone, in which I played Bugsy! What got me into the theatre world was a mix of a few factors actually – being taken to see Wicked as a child, doing NYMT where I first met like-minded theatre kids and my incredibly supportive and enthusiastic drama school teacher, Mrs Walton!
2) Your first professional show out of drama school! You must be excited. Tell us about your audition process for The Last Five Years.
I am SO excited to be a part of The Last Five Years! The audition process happening during a pandemic meant it was a self-tape. I had to prepare and film two songs from the show, as well as 3 piano excerpts and a piano piece of my choice, which I then sent off for the creative team to look at.
3) How have the rehearsals been during a pandemic?
Rehearsals have been fantastic so far, and it has been such a pleasure being back in a rehearsal room. We’ve re-explored the text, and with Jonathan, our director, re-capped blocking. Most importantly at the moment, rehearsals have been super safe, with Southwark Playhouse and the whole team making the space Covid and social-distancing friendly!
4) What is your process each night when you get into character for a show?
Before a show, I begin to get in the zone slowly from the warm-up, where I start to focus my mind onto the character and their story, and then the piece as a bigger picture. I like to listen to classical music and take myself off to a quiet space to breath and prepare. Then once my costume is on, that’s the final physical layer for me that helps me enter the world of my character.
5) Tell us about one of your best/funniest memories on stage?
One of the funniest memories I have of being on stage was I got all tangled up in a trench coat I was wearing in a production of Singin’ In The Rain. During the “Good Mornin” tap break, I got so tangled getting in and out of this coat, that I chucked it into the wings whilst tapping! It certainly caught the crew in the wings off guard, and I’m not sure my choreographer was best pleased, but needs must!
6) How have you been keeping creative in lockdown?
During the lockdown, I have just tried to find as many projects and online classes as I can to throw myself into. I’ve been part of a dance piece choreographed by Stuart Winter, called “Tracing Movement Together”, I was part of a visual EP for a new musical called “Snowflake”, I’ve done the English National Ballet’s series of ballet barres, led by Tamara Rojo, as well as online classes by many other choreographers. I was also part of The Grad Fest – a fantastic company set up by a friend, providing an online platform for 2020 graduates to perform, meet others, and collaborate during the lockdown. I performed a solo cabaret on Instagram, was part of a zoom performance of Alan Ayckbourn’s ‘House and Garden’, as well as arranged and filmed a jazz trio with two other friends. It’s safe to say technology this time has been a blessing!
7) What three things can we always find in your dressing room? I.e Lucky charms…things that help you on stage…blue m&ms..
You can always find Lemon and Ginger Tea, sweeties (for that quick sugar hit!) and an image (or a few) that inspire and have an essence of the character I am playing.
8) What is your favourite Cast Album to listen to right now?
I have been OBSESSED with Bandstand recently!
9) If your life were a musical what would it be called, and why?
If my life were a musical, I would call it “In This Moment”. I know it sounds cheesy and cliché, but right now I am really trying to implement this motto into my life and be better at living in and for the moment, rather than looking back or to the future too much! I think, now more than ever, this is so important as there is a lot of uncertainty in the world, so if we can live and enjoy the here and now, then that is something to be happy about!
10) What advice would you give to all the new graduates – both 2020 and upcoming 2021 grads?
To all graduates, 2020 and 2021, I’d say we have got this! Ok right now, doing what we do is a little tricker than usual, however, we have SO much to show and SO much to give! So let’s keep working and doing what we love to do! Let’s support one another, be happy for one another, and work with one another – we’re only just getting started!