Knights Of The Rose is the latest in a long line of brand new productions to make its West End debut at the Arts Theatre (The Toxic Avenger; Ruthless). Knights Of The Rose is a classic rock musical of Shakespearean proportions, featuring legendary ballads and timeless anthems from the likes of Bon Jovi, Muse, No Doubt and many more. Last week, I had the chance to speak to Andy Moss (Hollyoaks, Doctors) ahead of the opening of this brand new production.
Congratulations on preparing to make your West End debut! Are you excited about it? What’s the experience been like so far?
Obviously it’s really exciting to start out in the West End, and I think the most exciting thing about this show is that it’s starting from scratch. [Knights Of The Rose] has never been done before so we’re getting to put a little bit of our own spin onto it as well, so we’re creating at the same time as being involved in a brand new production. It’s even more exciting than doing a regular show!
I did Ghost last time, and this is opening in a theatre in the West End with an amazing director, Racky Plews (Summer Holiday). We’re getting to workshop everything before we do it, so for me it’s really exciting to be involved from the ground floor.
Is the rehearsal experience much different to when you were rehearsing Ghost, with Ghost already existing as a show whereas Knights Of The Rose is brand new?
The director has an idea of how she wants it to look, then we come in and we have an idea of what we think the character should be as nobody has been before us, and it’s just really interesting putting the two ideas together. It comes up with something new that neither of us expected but it seems to work – it’s amazing!
What about your West End Live experience? Was this your first experience of the event?
It’s my first ever West End Live, and there were thousands of people in Trafalgar Square. It gave us such a rush, and it’s the first time ever that we previewed any of the songs. We’re lucky that the songs are well known so everyone was on board with us straight away and singing along. It seemed to get a real buzz going for the show; we came out and sang a powerful song without choreography – just us in our Knights Of The Rose t-shirts – and it was just the bare bones of the show. It went down well.
Tell me a little bit about the show and your character.
Another exciting part of the show which is what got me interested in it is that it uses a lot of Shakespeare and Chaucer, and poets from that time, and takes a lot of their dialogue which is sewn together by the words Jenny (Marsden, writer) has written. But the songs are inserted in such a way that they’re not just shoehorned in; every line in the song means something to the proceeding scene or the proceeding speech. It just feels like one flowing journey, rather than a jukebox musical which was another thing that really attracted me to the show.
My character, Prince Gawain, is next in line to the throne of the House of Rose. It’s a great part to get. We start the show with Blades of Glory, it’s a big powerful opening number that I sing, and his journey throughout is one of love for the girl who is waiting for him back home. I get to do rousing big speeches and battle cries. It’s a real rollercoaster of emotions, especially when we return home from battle. There are other stories that flow off from that; it’s a totally different character to what I’ve ever played before.
You’re best known for your roles in Hollyoaks and Doctors, and this is completely different to anything we’ve ever seen you in before.
Like I said with Ghost, we knew the characters and aspects of what we were playing so that was easy to find. With TV, I’ve been playing real people but this a total different step to what I’ve ever done before. It’s set in a mythological world in medieval times, so we can only draw on what we know through history or what we know from Shakespeare’s words and sonnets. I think it’s a totally different aspect in that respect, that I had to take a completely different approach to how I’d ever done it before.
There are some real showstoppers in Knights Of The Rose that everyone knows and loves. What are you most looking forward to singing every night and are there any songs in the show that you wish you got to sing that your character doesn’t get to sing?
For me, I think it’s Bed of Roses. I know it from being a kid as Bon Jovi was one of my dad’s favourite artists so it was always being blasted out in the car. [Bed of Roses] is centred around a love scene in the show so I get to do this quick little scene then break out into Bed of Roses so I’m going to absolutely love singing that night after night.
As for the song I’d like to sing,:one of my favourite bands in the world is No Doubt and obviously Don’t Speak is in the show, so if they somehow could’ve adapted that it would be my ideal song. I think it’s just because I grew up with No Doubt, but other than that I think REM Everybody Hurts because it’s such a beautiful song. I wish I could have a go at that as well.
But they’re all amazing song, and that’s what makes it so great. It’s like a gig setlist rather than a musical theatre score so even if you don’t know the songs off by heart, you’ll think ‘I remember that’, and there’s something in there for everyone. I think that balances it out a bit because not everybody wants to see Shakespeare or see something in those words, but the songs balances this out a bit. It helps you understand the language of the piece, and two really interesting concepts have been combined. This is what’s going to make it a really great show to be honest.
What are you most looking forward to about Knights Of The Rose?
I’m excited to get the band on stage, because we’ve not had the band with us yet. We go into tech next week which is going to be a crazy, mental time because we have to put it together with the band and set. I think the most exciting part for me is being able to do it with a live big band, and getting out there and seeing what the audience think about it.
With it being a brand new show, we have no idea how it’s going to be received. Obviously we hope it’s all going to be good, but we have no idea at this stage as we open this week how what we’ve been rehearsing for the last three weeks is going to be received. For me, it’ll be the first couple of nights out on stage with the band and engaging with the audience. That’s going to be the most exciting part for me. And it’s make or break; ride or die.
Knights Of The Rose opens at the Arts Theatre on 29th of June for 9 weeks only.