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My Top 5 Showtunes: Clive Rowe

The actor tells us the musical numbers he couldn't live without

Clive Rowe
© Johan Persson

Clive Rowe is a double Olivier Award-winner (Carousel, Mother Goose) with theatre credits including Kiss Me Kate (Old Vic), The Light Princess (National Theatre), Chicago (Adelphi) and Company (Donmar Warehouse).

He is currently starring in Daniel Evans' production of Me and My Girl, which runs at Chichester Festival Theatre until 25 August.

We caught up with Clive and asked him: "If you were stranded on a desert island which five showtunes could you not live without?"

1. "Gethsemane" from Jesus Christ Superstar

For me, Jesus Christ Superstar reinvented musical theatre; I remember seeing the film and subsequently auditioning for amateur performances. "Gethsemane" is an amazing song; it's a massive sing but tells such a beautiful story. Whether you believe in Christ and God is not really important; it's about the man's agony of decision coming to a pivotal point in his life.

2. "Mister Cellophane" from Chicago

It's an 11 o'clock number and I love it, especially in the current West End production, because it cuts right against the grain of the show in the second act. You've got this little man who cries to the universe, expressing himself truthfully for the first time in the show. It cuts against all the razzle and dazzle; Mary Sunshine, Billy Flynn, Mama Morton and the girls all have big songs – then this little humble man comes out and in many ways, especially on an emotional level, blows them out of the water.

3. "I'm Not That Girl" from Wicked

There are a lot of fireworks in Wicked like "Defying Gravity", but then you've got this little, beautiful, sensitive nugget about what it's like to love somebody who loves someone else. It's very simple and straightforward, very gentle. But that's what your heart is like when it realises it's not going to be your time.

4. "My Friends" from Sweeney Todd

I love this song. Sweeney Todd returns to London with nothing, but finds a sense of self in an inanimate object – a set of blades. I suppose in this piece you can make your own decision about when Sweeney decides he's going to do the killing; but in finding these blades, you know he's found the tools to start him on his journey.

5. "Lambeth Walk" from Me and My Girl

It's so full of joy. It's about the clashing of cultures and how two sets of people, who feel they can never meet on any sort of common ground, do exactly that. I worked front of House on Me and My Girl at the Adelphi Theatre for five years from 1985, when I first came to college in London and then for another couple of years after that. It's part of the reason why I wanted to do this production at Chichester; I spent my formative years at drama school listening to these songs and I've always wanted to be part of it again. My oldest friends are the people who worked front of House with me and they're all going to try to come!