The 26-year-old actor from Grimsby will be getting the hump (quite literally) when he takes on the lead role in Hunchback The Musical at Newtownabbey's Theatre at the Mill from Monday
So, tell us about the show, The Hunchback of Notre Dame!
It's a full-scale musical version of the classic Victor Hugo tale. It's a new take on a classic romance with elements of the original -- but with something slightly different in there too.
Were you familiar with the story before you took up the role?
Well, I had read the book a couple of times in my youth, so I know the characters involved.
Does this production differ much from the book?
It's closer to the book than the more mainstream versions, like Disney. It's truer to the original and yet still has a nice musical theatre element to it.
Have you been practising your rope-climbing skills to play Quasimodo, then?
Yes, I've been learning some aerial rope stuff. I've been up and down quite a bit, so it should be interesting.
It's quite a physical production then?
Yes, we have people playing the Parisian gypsies in the show with their festival of fools.
It'll be a big, energetic, physical thing, and we have stilt walkers, hoop manipulators... and me clambering up and down a rope as well. It's not usuall for me to play a highly physical madman, but I'm very excited to do it!
Is the make-up a big consideration for your character as well?
We had discussions about how deformed to make him -- if he was less deformed and if it was more about the way he has been raised and imprisoned, or if he was going to be like a proper old school Hammer Horror character. Interestingly, in the book, he isn't described as crazily deformed, that's been extended for the film versions. As long as it can accommodate me going up and down a rope!
Quasimodo is a deeply tragic figure. Is it easy to empathise with him?
Absolutely. A huge part of the book is about him not knowing he was ugly until he met someone so beautiful and realising he can't be beautiful because he doesn't look like that.
It's a child's view that if I love you, you must love me. But it doesn't work like that for the poor boy. It's tragic but people learn that kind of lesson only when they are not locked in a bell tower!
Is musical theatre your main discipline then?
I trained as an actor but since graduating have done a lot of singing.
I love working with music and physical stuff. I like to explore things I haven't done before, as with this circus stuff in this.
And you're a bit of a Belfast veteran, aren't you?
I first came over to Belfast to do a show at the Black Box for the Rainbow Trust. Since then I did Molly's Wobbly T** Factory at the Lyric and Hansel and Gretel with the girl who plays Esmeralda in this show.
I've spent more time in Belfast in the past two years than anywhere else in the world. But it's a great city and the people are so nice to me, so I don't intend to leave until they throw me out!
Hunchback The Musical runs at the Theatre at the Mill, Newtownabbey, from December 2-14. For details, visit www.theatreatthemill.com.