Exclusive Interview: Martin Kemp stars in Chicago
Martin Kemp is currently starring in Chicago as the smooth talking lawyer, Billy Flynn. The English actor and musician is best known as the bassist in Spandau Ballet and his role as Steve Owen in Eastenders. We caught up with him at the Phoenix Theatre to discuss his iconic role in the award winning West End show.
Why were you drawn to star in Chicago?
Chicago was on my list to have to tick off. I’ve starred in other musicals that tour around the country - last year I did Million Dollar Quartet in the Royal Festival Hall in the Southbank. It didn’t quite feel like you’re in the West End. I’ve always wanted to get up in a West End theatre and sing a couple of songs! Chicago came to me ten years ago when it was in the Strand but I couldn’t do it because of timings …Chicago is the show that’s always bugged me as the one that got away.
Billy Flynn is an iconic character with a huge personality – how do you get into character?
He’s a lot like other characters I’ve played in the past; he’s American but he’s similar to Steve Owen in Eastenders. I like to think of him as the Devil - he’s asking these young women to sell their souls for $5000. I wanted to make him charming and sexy. Billy Flynn is all about sex; he’s the only guy in that prison that all the girls see all the time, so they’re all in love with him…not because of who he is or what he looks like but because he’s the only man they ever see. There’s a part in the show where the girls are all singing “We want Billy, We want Billy” and you have to play to that.
Billy Flynn is always very smartly dressed; do you have a similar style to him?
Billy looks great all the time. I have worn clothes like that such as 1930s suits which are very similar to Billy’s suits. I’m very at home with that character. I love the Chicago gangster period the play is set in, so it’s nice to be part of it.
Describe your style in three words
Nowadays it’s relaxed, casual and smart.
What are your top tips for aspiring actors?
Learn your lines using a Dictaphone. Put the other actors’ lines on your Dictaphone so you can rehearse your lines at the same time as you’re listening to theirs. A lot of actors forget to listen to other people’s lines.
What has been the most memorable moment in your showbiz career?
Performing at Live Aid charity concert at Wembley Stadium was one of the most memorable showbiz moments.
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