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Craig Chalmers on experiencing some Guilty Pleasures

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He may have performed over 1,400 shows during his almost three-year run playing the title role in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat but for his next stage outing Craig Chalmers is leaving the loincloth far behind him and replacing it with, well, nothing actually! Craig told me all about his raunchy new show, Guilty Pleasures, and the charity which will benefit from the tour.

Can you tell me a little about this new comedy?
First of all, I never thought that after Joseph and the loincloth that I would ever appear in even less clothing but, low and behold, that’s exactly what’s happened. It’s a show that you have to be over 18 to come and see.

There is some nudity at points in the play, but the thing about it is that it’s more of a raunchy carry-on kind of show. The show is very much a physical slapstick sort of piece. The one thing it certainly isn’t is seedy. It’s racy, but it’s essentially an adult comedy.

What is your character, Tommy, like?
The show is set in a ladies’ spa run by a guy called GC, who is played by David Van Day, My character, Tommy, is one of the guys who work there. There’s a slightly older guy called Gordon. He’s been there a bit longer and is a bit more experienced, but he’s got some issues going on that bring a bit more drama to the piece. Tommy, well he just loves his job.

He’s maybe not the cleverest sort of guy but he is good at his job, you know, I think the ladies get a lot of pleasure from his services. I think he fancies himself as a bit of a budding actor too as he really gets into the characters he plays in some of the fantasy role-play scenes. He really goes at it with gusto.

Are there other famous names in the show?
Definitely, it’s a fantastic cast. Everyone knows David from his time in Dollar and his stint in the jungle and – as well as myself – you've also got CJ from the television quiz show,Eggheads. There's another lead guy in it too, but his name hasn't been announced yet. Then there are the ladies. These include Terri Dwyer from Hollyoaks, Pauline Fleming (who was in Coronation Street) and Alexis Strum, who starred in the Eva Cassidy musical, Over the Rainbow.

Are you enjoying straight acting?
Oh yes, for me it’s a great change. For years I’ve been known as a vocalist, and most things that I have done have involved singing at some point, but in this production I get to develop a character without any singing.

I’m finding that I’m really enjoying the comedy too. I’ve done a few pantomimes now and although I didn’t realise I could do comedy, if you can commit to it and you’re not afraid to take the micky out of yourself, then you can really go for it.

Is this your attempt (forgive the expression) to grow up from the Joseph days?
Yeah, I think so. You see, I played that part for three years solid and worked in the vast majority of the theatres in the country. So most people have seen me as this all-singing, all-dancing, goody-goody character. In this production I get to show that there’s a lot more to me. I have grown up in many ways over the years, I’ve got a lot more experience, I got married and, at the end of the day, I am 30 going on 31 now.

Have you been hitting the gym for this part?
Indeed I have. In fact I did eight weeks of intensive gym training before the rehearsal period started, but then I went on holiday to Mexico for two weeks after that – so I’m back on the weights again. I’m not going to be some sort of Men’s Health Magazine beefcake, as that’s not what they want for the character.

They want him to be a “normal” guy, because that’s the whole comedy thing about the spa. It’s not like the Chippendales pleasuring the ladies; it’s just young good-looking guys who have the ability to fulfil the ladies’ fantasies.

You open in two weeks. Is everything on track?
Rehearsals are rehearsals. Some days you think you’re on top of it and then, before you know it, the days slip away and you’re into the technical rehearsal period. I’m just working very hard to make sure that I get it right.

You see, I have this nightmare that I’m on stage and there’s a full house of people watching – and all of a sudden I have no idea where I am, or what I’m doing, so I think that spurs me on to make sure I’m very organised.

You’re also raising money for Everyman, the testicular cancer charity.
Exactly, and I’m really hoping that we can get that message out before the show starts. The charity is directly relevant to part of the storyline and some of the action in the show. Prostate and testicular cancers affect almost 40,000 men each year in the UK.

Everyman is an appeal by the Institute of Cancer Research to raise money for research into these diseases and we are proud to be donating part of the profits of the show to them. It will be great if, as well as coming out to have a good night out and to enjoy the comedic aspect of the show, the audience goes home and takes some time to think about health, particularly men’s health.

Guilty Pleasures can be seen as part of a three-month national, tour at the Alban Arena, St Albans (23-24 April, Pavilion Theatre, Worthing (25-26 April), the Key Theatre, Peterborough (10-12 May),  the Gordon Craig Theatre, Stevenage (20-31 May),  the Central Theatre, Chatham (2- 3 June), the Grove Theatre, Dunstable (18- 19 June) and the Camberley Theatre (26-27th June).


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