Richard Winsor is a British actor and dancer, currently starring in Saturday Night Fever at the Peacock Theatre London. I managed to get some time with Richard while grabbing a coffee to talk about the show and his amazing career on screen and stage with work with Matthew Bourne and how his take on Tony Manero is a gritter, darker version and a musical must see.
Can you tell us about your current project Saturday Night Fever, what drew you to the iconic show in the role of Tony Manero?
I watched the production at the Palladium when I was a kid with Adam Garcia as Tony, I thought it was wonderful. It was always a show I was fond of and I had seen the film but it’s obviously quite a raunchy gritty film. I rewatched it when Bill Kenwright approached me about the show and it struck me how dark it is and as an actor, I really wanted to get my teeth stuck into the role and show, with my dance background it seemed a perfect role. I wanted to keep this production close to the film with a nice drama alongside great music and dance.
With this production would you say it is a darker version like the film?
It is truer to the film. It’s definitely a different darker version to the previous runs. Keeping a bit more grit and darkness. I loved the previous version too!
Where has been your favourite place to perform on stage and why?
The Peacock is a wonderful place, I have never performed there before, the fact that it’s attached to Sadler’s Wells which has been a home for me over my career. I’ve also been lucky to perform in New York on Broadway when I did Swan Lake with Matthew Bourne and a few other places like Tokyo which was wonderful. Loved, loved, loved performing in Tokyo!
Would you say the audience reactions are different in Tokyo compared to Broadway?
They certainly are, New York audiences definitely reward you at the end for your performance, Tokyo are really quiet throughout the whole piece, it’s out of a mark of respect and at the end they show their appreciation for so long, like 20+ minutes.
What is the most rewarding thing about your work?
I have enjoyed the work I have done with Matthew Bourne and be able to dance and act. With this role as Tony, I get the best of both worlds with dance and acting.
Are there any different songs in this production?
The same songs, the show is really heavily focused on the soundtrack. A big difference in this production is we have three guys in this version playing the Bee Gees, they are there as song soundboards and they sing throughout the show and feels like a running soundtrack, it almost feels like a bit of a Bee Gees concert as well! The band are amazing and it feels big and loud and fantastic to have the support in the story.
Is there a moment that you’re excited to perform in Saturday Night Fever at the Peacock Theatre?
I always look forward to the end of Act 1, “You should be dancing” is a big number and I really get to show off as Tony! The scene ends in a big culmination of the company dancing, singing and the band playing such a wonderful song. I also like some of the funny, quirky scenes, I get to delve into what Tony Manero is all about which is fun!
Why should people come along to see the show?
You need to see this because it has everything that you want in a piece of theatre it has good drama, a good journey, the storyline you get taken on with the character and the trails and tribulations. And of course, brilliant music, set pieces, dancing, choreography by Bill Deamer which gets everyone up jigging in the aisles! You can’t get the soundtrack out of your head; it is a fully rounded evening of theatre.
What has been your favourite role you have played?
Oh golly! That’s a tricky one! The four years I did on Casualty playing Caleb was wonderful for me, I loved developing a character for that length of time…before they killed him! That was definitely a changing point in my career and my life. And Dorian Gray, I did for Matthew Bourne it was really an opportunity to be creative and such an interesting role as we modernised it and brought Dorian into modern times and it was brilliant to be a part of and a lovely role.
Who are your influences and inspirations?
When I was younger definitely people like John Travolta, the things he did like Grease, Staying Alive, Saturday Night Fever it was so iconic. Patrick Swayze, Gene Kelly as well – people in film that acclimate the dancing and acting together. Strong men dancing but also being known as fantastic actors.
Where did you train?
I trained at The Central School of Ballet, when I was 16 I did three years there and I also did a course at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in my early twenties, while I was working with Matthew Bourne. I’ve also done various acting techniques and training as well throughout the years. A variety but classically ballet trained for sure to start with.
What’s been a funny moment for you on stage? Any mishaps you want to share!?
In Saturday Night Fever I wear the iconic white suit and in once scene I change on stage in Act 2 and one time the zipper on the trousers which I zip up slowly while a lovely song is playing got stuck as it was pointing the wrong way down into the trousers! Tucked in the black shirt, tried to get the zipper out and I couldn’t do it! The crowd started to laugh, it was embarrassing but I had to go with it!
Where can people follow your work on socials?
See Richard in Saturday Night Fever at The Peacock Theatre.