Preeya Kalidas trained at the Sylvia Young Theatre School and has had an extensive performing career since on stage and screen. In the West End, she’s best known for originating the role of Priya in Bombay Dreams at the Apollo Victoria, produced by Andrew Lloyd Webber. She was subsequently featured on the cast recording and found chart success with the show’s song “Shakalaka Baby” (Best Video, MTV Asia Music Awards).
Kalidas’ film and television credits include East Is East, Bollywood Queen with James McAvoy, Bend It Like Beckham, Bodies with Max Beasley and Keith Allen, Banglatown Banquet, Green Wing, My Family, Doctors, The Bill, Casualty, Bedtime, Broken News, Sari and Trainers, The Fiancee, Jump Boy, England Expects and Decreed.
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat is a musical, based on the Biblical tale of Joseph and his 11 jealous brothers, which started life in 1968 as a 20-minute entertainment for an end-of-term school concert. The popular score includes the songs "Any Dream Will Do", "Close Every Door to Me", “Go, Go, Go Joseph”, “Those Canaan Days”, “Benjamin Calypso” and "One More Angel in Heaven". A new song, “King of My Heart”, has been written by Lloyd Webber and Rice especially for this new production.
Lloyd Webber has dedicated the show, a revival of the record-breaking 1990s production at the London Palladium, to its late director Steven Pimlott, who died in February (See News, 15 Feb 2007). Pimlott also directed Kalidas in Bombay Dreams.
Date & place of birth
Born 1981 isleworth
Lives now in
Tottenham Court Road – so near, it’s fab!
What made you want to become a performer?
It was just something I always had to do. As a kid, I was always performing everything I did!
If you hadn’t become an actor, what might you have done professionally?
Hmm, I don’t know. I love watching people and being an observer so possibly a psychologist?! If not, I love all kinds of music, so perhaps a DJ?!
First big break
When I got offered a place at the Sylvia Young Theatre School. From then on, it was all very exciting performing professionally.
Favourite productions you’ve ever worked on
Bombay Dreams at the Apollo Victoria. We were bringing something new to the theatre, something so cultural, it was fantastic. Working with AR Rahman, the composer, was a dream. I am a huge fan and he created wonderful and incredibly true music. I also got to work with Meera Syal and Don Black - really fantastic people to be around!
Max Beesley. He is so experienced, hilarious, talented and charming!
It has to be Steven Pimlott. A phenomenal man. He had such an authority and flamboyancy about him – I loved working him.
What’s the last thing you saw on stage that had a big impact on you?
Wicked! And it was! I loved it - it was camp, fun and spectacular. It’s something both kids and adults can enjoy, so visual.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Be the master of your own game.
If you could swap places with one person (living or dead) for a day, who would it be?
Gosh...hmm…Simon Cowell’s girlfriend - to see what he is really like! Or I’d love to swap lives for a day probably with Andrew Lloyd Webber to experience his genius and his success, which must be just so pleasing!
I loved The Secret by Rhonda Byrne.
Favourite holiday destination
Marrakech staying at the riad tizwa a perfect morrocon experience a plce I go at least once a year.
Favourite after-show haunts
My dressing room – it’s gorg! You can’t go wrong at Joe Allen’s for food though.
Why did you want to accept the part of the Narrator in this production of <Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat?
Because of Andrew Lloyd Webber really. Andrew thought of me for the role and one day I went in and sang ‘Pharaohs Story’ and later that afternoon he offered me the role. I wanted to do it because it’s such a well loved musical - I think just about everyone knows Joseph. All the schools do it, even I did, and everyone enjoys it. Many people have fond memories of Joseph from childhood productions.
Had you seen Joseph before? What do you think is the secret of its enduring appeal?
When I was a kid, I did an amateur production of the show, so I got to know it quite well. When I was rehearsing for this London production, I kept going over the one I did when I was younger, as the music and lyrics kept coming back to me. That’s what makes it so enduring – it’s infectious music and lyrics. Also the colours in Joseph are so camp, fun and commercial. Everyone can come and love it and go away smiling.
In a recent interview, you said "It's great to have the opportunity to be in something where it's not specifically for an Asian girl.” Do you think there’s a tendency for Asian-origin actors to be typecast? Why?
Perhaps once there was, but I think it doesn’t matter what your race or origin is any more. It’s about the talent you have. Some parts do have strict criteria because of the time they were written or set in, but new writers now tend to create parts for anyone to play. I’ve been very fortunate with the roles I’ve been offered and feel very lucky.
You previously worked with Lloyd Webber on Bombay Dreams. How different is your experience this time?
Not that different really. Andrew is a very supportive guy. The only difference with this and Bombay Dreams is that Andrew only produced that. He wrote Joseph, so it’s his baby and he is producing it too so is understandably even more protective.
Did you watch Any Dream Will Do? What did you think? And how has it been working with Lee Mead now, especially with the press attention focused on him following the TV show’s success?
Yes, of course I watched it. I was offered the role before the television series started so I was watching with a very keen eye! Lee, I think, stood out from the beginning and I am very pleased he got it - he really deserved to win. Working with him is great. He gets a lot of press attention, but that’s created a great deal of interest in the show.
What’s your favourite number from Joseph?
Oh, that’s so hard! Tim Rice’s lyrics are so clever. I guess, if I had to pick, it would be “Go, Go, Go Joseph” - the joy from performing that number gives everyone a huge buzz. The audience go crazy – it’s like being at a rock concert or something!
What’s the oddest/funniest/most notable thing that’s happened in performances to date?
Probably when Lee was doing his Prince of Egypt scene and the corn came shooting out of the machine and nearly hit him in the groin - that was giggle! They can fly into anything!
What are your plans for the future? Anything else you’d like to add?
Plans right now are to continue with Joseph. I must say I love my costumes!
- Preeya Kalidas was talking to Ryan Woods
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat is at the Adelphi Theatre.