Jonathan Stamp is looking forward to his biggest challenge yet with Worthing Musical Theatre Company when he takes on the role of Max Von Mayerling in their production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s award-winning musical Sunset Boulevard.
The show tells the story of a faded silent screen goddess and a young man she manipulates to save her film career. And it comes with music that emotionally packs a punch including With One Look, The Perfect Year and Sunset Boulevard.
Performances will be in Worthing’s Pavilion Theatre from Thursday, September 26-Saturday, September 28.
“I first got involved with the company in about spring 2017 when the company were preparing a production of Footloose,” Jonathan says.
“The person playing Roger Dunbar had dropped out and the director was looking for someone to replace him.
“I had worked with the director James on a couple of pantos that I had been involved in with the Pilgrim Drama Group at Broadwater parish church, and I live on the same road as James.
“He saw me walking past and he thought he would ask me. I happened to be available and did it. It was only about a dozen lines or so and a few chorus pieces, but I was really well accepted. They were very friendly and very welcoming, and I was impressed by the standard of the acting.
“And I thought it was a good opportunity to expand on what I had done previously.”
Later that year, Jonathan returned as Harold Wilson in their production of Made in Dagenham: “Because of work commitments, I was unable to participate in their next two productions, Oliver! and The Sound of Music. I went back to doing a couple of things for Pilgrim again, but then I got involved again when they did Bad Girls earlier this year, just a small role, and then I saw that they were auditioning for this.
“I ummed and ahhed about going for the part of Max because it would be more challenging than anything I have ever done before in terms of the songs I would be asked to sing.
“But I went for it and they asked me to do it. It is quite a challenging show. It is not a frothy, laugh-a-minute show.
“You have got this character Norma Desmond who was this great movie star in the past and has been unable to make the transition to talkies. She has been struggling to go from being a great star to being unknown, and she is wanting to make up for lost time when she meets Joe.
“They are both looking to rebuild their careers – and they are using each other to an extent.
“Max is the butler to Norma Desmond. He is effectively her minder.
“He has known her for a long time, and he has very much been looking after her.
“We get this young man Joe coming in that Norma takes a shine to and brings him into the household, and there is a little bit of a frisson between Max and Joe, this young upstart coming in and taking all of Norma’s attention…”
Jonathan is intending to shave his head to get more fully into the part when production week comes.
“Max has got a lot of gravitas, and you have got to put across the fact that he has been looking after Norma for many years.
“He is in the background but he is a controlling figure as well.
“He has obviously in the past had quite a lot of responsibility for Norma. Now he is just the butler, but he is still someone to whom Norma pays attention.”
Musically the challenge comes in a particular song where Max is telling Joe just what a great star Norma has been.
”I am a baritone, I guess, and my strength is in the lower register, but the song has these higher notes where to you have to go from the lower register, where you have to jump quite quickly… and it could feel quite exposed…”
Tickets for the show from Worthing Theatres.