Make a date for Bride smash hit
PUBLISHED: 11:31 15 June 2006 | UPDATED: 14:44 12 May 2010
WHEN BBC Radio 2 listeners were asked to name their top three musicals, Les Miserables, Phantom of the Opera and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers topped the list. Dave Willett - who appears in Seven Brides at Cambridge Corn Exchange this month - has played
WHEN BBC Radio 2 listeners were asked to name their top three musicals, Les Miserables, Phantom of the Opera and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers topped the list.
Dave Willett - who appears in Seven Brides at Cambridge Corn Exchange this month - has played the lead in West End productions of all three.
However the story of how Willett broke into showbusiness is itself like the script of a musical. He was travelling the world as a management consultant for an engineering firm when he was spotted in a small theatre in an obscure show.
He says: "I didn't train anywhere. I have never had an acting, singing or dancing lesson in my life. I learned in amateur theatre. It was my hobby, how I relaxed."
In 1985, he was at home in the Midlands playing in Charlie and Algenon at The Priory Theatre, Kenilworth. Nothing might or would have come of it but the show had received good reviews and the director of the Belgrade Theatre in Coventry went to see it.
That changed Willett's life. "I was invited to audition for the Belgrade's production of Annie. I think I got third flunky from the left in the chorus."
But he was in the professional theatre. "I sat down with my wife, Lynn and we discussed whether I should give up my job. We decided we would give it three years.
"I gave back my company car, my Bupa membership, my expense account, my travel facilities. I said goodbye to my secretary. My wife took a job as a waitress and I took a job as a waiter at the National Exhibition Centre. I bought a second-hand bike and every day I would cycle to work, cycle home and then cycle to the theatre and then cycle home again. It was a fantasically big adventure. Within a year, I was starring in Les Miserables."
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, which Willett describes as "the ultimate in speed dating" is at the Corn Exchange from Monday to Friday, June 23. The show is due to move to The Haymarket Theatre in London's West End on August 10.
Willett plays Adam, the oldest brother and the first to seize his bride.
Performances Monday to Friday at 7.30pm, matinees Thursday and Wednesday at 2.30pm. Tickets from £18-£27.50. Discounts for senior citizens, students, unwaged and under 16s. Box office 01223 357851.