Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Sam Mackay Interview - In The Heights 1st Birthday | LittleEllieMae

You may have read my post on the amazing party to celebrate In The Heights first birthday last weekend and saw how over the moon I was the entire evening. To add to the excitement, I had the chance to chat to some of the cast and crew too. Here's my interview with the delightful and extremely talented Sam Mackay who plays the lead role of Usnavi. As well as playing Usnavi in In The Heights at Southwark Playhouse and Kings Cross Theatre, his previous roles include Eddie in Mamma Mia at Prince of Wales Theatre, Jimmy in Flashdance at Shaftesbury theatre and Reecey in Our House UK Tour. 

It was a pleasure to chat to Sam beforehand and he absolutely smashed the show, as per usual. He really is a gem of a performer- he puts so much energy and passion into his performance and receives nothing but love back from the audience. Usnavi is one of my favourite theatrical characters of all time and Sam's portrayal proves no exception. 

The show has been running for a whole year now, what is it that makes In The Heights so special? 

I think the show has universal themes that people connect with. At a time when there's a lot of political instability, financial instability- which are both two massive themes in the show- I think, coming somewhere and escaping to a place with a real sense of community and caring for the people around you. Its a nice new message when you turn on the TV and you see Trump with so much violence coming out of his mouth and you come here like, here is a hub of love and story of community and home. I think that's something that everybody needs in their life.I think its very easy to connect with, regardless of whether you're Latino or not, its just about community and struggling together. What's not to like about it? 

I'm still such a fan of this show. It's still crazy to me! I did this show in 2014 at Southwark- I was a fan of the show then, and I'm still a fan of the show every day. Its a piece that I love talking about and sharing it... I mean, how can you not?! The music is SO good. I think there's something in it for everyone. We've had such a spectrum of audiences- all races, colours, creeds, genders, ages- there is such a mixed audience and I don't think you get that much on the West End anymore. 

Even me, as someone who has grown up half very middle class and half very working class, I go into the theatre and I feel very {out of place}. There's a very particular type of person there so its nice that there's a break of that here. We offer very affordable prices (£15 tickets for under 25s)... there should be accessible theatre, especially for a piece like this. It resonates with people that wouldn't necessarily usually be theatre- goers but also attracts middle-class regulars too- it has classic musical theatre ballads, a very honest musical theatre structure to the show as a whole yet it also appeals to a much wider audience beyond that. 

Of course I have to ask, your boss and former Usnavi visited a few weeks ago, what was that like?!

Oh yeah... that guy! It was mental and wonderful. He's a very generous and humble man. He came over when we were at the Southwark in 2014, but unfortunately he missed it as he was writing Hamilton at the time. He came over and met us afterwards and he was very lovely about it. His parents had seen the show and they loved it. It was a big pressure with him coming in, performing this role to this guy. I was getting tweets when he mentioned me on his Periscope! I was smitten. In life I try not to idolise people, when you meet these people you realise we are all just humans. Those people I aspire to and follow in their footsteps work- wise are just like us. Lin is the depiction of a lovely human being, despite his huge success. He had lovely things to say about the show and the company. Of course it was nerve- wracking but the audience was unreal that night- it was like a rock gig or something. We hit the end of "in Washington Heights... BAM!" and it just went wild. After that, I was just like "oh cool... at least these guys think it's alright.". It was amazing. Unreal. 

Thanks to Sam for such an interesting chat. It was great to meet you! Check out the audio of our interview below:

And thanks to In The Heights for inviting Aby and I for an amazing evening of celebrations... HAPPY BIRTHDAY! 

In The Heights is running at the Kings Cross Theatre until 8th January 2017 so book your tickets now... Everybody needs to see this unreal show. Check out their website for more details: www.intheheightslondon.com

Ellie Mae x

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