We caught up with the stars at the Sunderland Empire and considering they had met for the first at 5 a.m. that morning (as they made their way to Sunderland) there was no doubting there was already chemistry between. As they will be playing best friends in the show, it was certainly a good start.
Adam Cooper, while being an award winning chorographer and ballet dancer, is no stranger to musicals having appeared in Guys and Dolls, The Wizard of Oz and Singin’ in the Rain, as well as White Christmas.
Adam told us he is attracted back to White Christmas as the role he plays combines all the things he loves, acting, comedy and a return to tap dancing, which is his favourite form of dancing. He had not seen the film before securing the role originally, his previous co-star was Aled Jones, but admits that audiences cannot leave the theatre without a warm feeling inside and knowing they have seen a feel good family musical.
He has approached the role in his own way to give it an energy that makes it relative to today’s audiences and allows him to plays off his co-star, on this occasion Tom Chambers. But he admits he is more comfortable with performing in theatre, rather than TV and film. But, that maybe due to the fact it is where he has spent most of his career (having started in pantomimes at the age of seven) than anything else.
Although rehearsals will begin soon , before the White Christmas opens Adam is holding a workshop on a show that he hopes will open next year and there are plans to hopefully tour his production of Les Liaisons Dangereuses, which has already been a hit in both Japan and London.
Adams’ family will join him for four of the weeks he is in Sunderland and he intends to see as much of the area as possible with them once the show opens. On his agenda are the beaches and heading up to Alnwick Gardens. Last year, while the show was playing Manchester, he found his family trip to a nearby zoo resulted in them having the place to themselves due to the snow.
Co-star Tom Chambers, best known for his role in Holby City and winning Strictly Come Dancing in 2008, is playing opposite Adam and let us know he had just been awarded the lead role in the UK tour of musical BIG (playing the role Tom Hanks made famous in the film version). Although no venues have been released for the BIG as yet, as it is a six month national tour, he hoped it would mean he could be back in the North East, if not actually at the Empire, very soon.
Tom was very excited to be making his debut in a professional stage musical at the Sunderland Empire, as it was the same theatre where Tommy Steele first appeared on stage. By co-incidence legendary performer Steele is appearing in at the Empire in the musical Scrooge! just before White Christmas opens.
The Hollywood musicals of the 40s and 50s have always been a love of Toms’ and he used to tap dance on the kitchen floor from the age of five to Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly musicals.(by another co-incidence they worked with Tommy Steele). So now to be headlining in a musical of that era is a dream come true.
Ironically it was Astaire that managed to secure Tom his role in Holby City ,as he was on the verge of stopping acting altogether after several years of being a "jobbing actor". One of his last ditch attempts to secure that "breakthrough" role involved him putting up mirrors in his home and watching a VHS tape of Fred Astaire dancing then copying it. He paused the tape at every step and spent 5000 hours recreating the dance before sending off two thousand copies. Due to the recording containing no dialogue, he was perceived as being American (as the dance was recognised as being a copy of Americana copy of Astaire’s ) and he was called for an audition for Holby City. But on arrival he found the part was for one episode only and for an American doctor. But he was asked back the following week for the part of Sam Strachen, the a contract for three years followed.
The story lines for his character in Holby meant he had relationships with most of the female cast but ended up with Sam suffering from cancer. This meant he shaved his head daily with a razor for the part. But he always recognised at the end of the day he could walk away from the character and go home, while thousands of people with cancer never got that chance.
Tom believes he is more suited to family entertainment than the character he played in the BBC drama Waterloo Road and hopes White Christmas followed by BIG provides him with his move in to musicals and places him one step nearer his ultimate goal of appearing in a film musical. However, he is under no illusions of how hard the eight shows a week are going to be. He reflected that while appearing on Strictly Come Dancing once the dance is over and you are left out of breath you have time to recover. Whereas on stage it is straight in to the next dance routine or song, eight times a week, sometime two shows a day. But one thing’s for certain Tom is ready for the challenge.
With Adam and Tom heading the cast, a much loved feel good story and classic Irving Berlin songs, White Christmas is set to be remembered in Sunderland for a long time to come.