Anthony is back in London to embark on a UK tour as Manuel in Faulty Towers The Dining Experience. He’s here to meet me on the set of our London West End residency at Amba Hotel Charing Cross, where back in October 2012 he was part of the much-lauded opening cast.
Anthony is wrapped up tightly in winter clothes having just flown in from sunny Australia, so I distract him from the cold by asking him how his acting career began. Despite having been a keen actor at school and for some years after, Anthony then put acting on hold for 10 years, and it was only when he moved from Melbourne to Sydney that he discovered it again: ‘I then did a year at Sydney Theatre School, and it was only four or five months later that I saw the ad for Faulty Towers. A few months after that I was on a plane to Brisbane to workshop the show with Ali’ [Alison Pollard-Mansergh, founder and artistic director of Interactive Theatre International].
I ask what happened next. ‘My first ever show was in Gympy, Australia, in date. We were performing eight shows in the space of four days; audiences swarmed in when word got around. My first overseas tour was in 2011, when we spent three months touring the show around the Netherlands, followed by another 3 months tour that included the Edinburgh Fringe. I then accepted an offer to be based in Europe for the next two years – it was a huge but exciting decision. Over those two years I must have toured around 10 or 11 countries.
‘So which has been your favourite country to perform in?’ I wonder. ‘As far as audience reception is concerned, my two favourite countries have been Norway and Belgium. I think because the show is so different to anything they’ve ever seen before, they are particularly receptive. Some crowds were quiet, but that’s because they were really listening, while others were completely raucous. It was absolutely brilliant.’
I ask if Anthony’s Manuel has developed since he first started. ‘Yes, he’s grown – not height-wise, I hasten to add. Ali [Pollard-Mansergh] always says that it takes an actor somewhere between 12 and 18 months to really become the character without having to overthink or second-guess them.’ I follow up by asking how he gets into character these days. ‘I used to simply put on my moustache and bowtie and that would do it for me. That’s not the case any more because I grow my own moustache… It’s when I begin ironing Manuel’s shirt that the mindset begins to sink in.’
And what’s the best thing about playing Manuel? ‘He’s the favourite. It’s funny, it doesn’t take long after a show has begun for us to be able to identify whether it’s a Basil crowd, a Sybil crowd or a Manuel crowd. But most of the time it’s a Manuel crowd. People identify with him as he is the loveable underdog.’
When I ask Anthony what his favourite moment in the show is, he replies ‘The golden moments occur through interaction with the audience. They will only ever be one-offs. Some particularly hilarious moments will stay with me forever, like the day we spotted a Richard Branson look-a-like in the crowd, or when we alluded to three audience members appearing from the bathroom at once as suspicious…’.
Anthony has recently appeared in a mockumentary-style apocalyptic independent film ‘The End’, which is currently in post-production. He has now been cast in the same director’s upcoming web series. Watch this space to see him in action on screen!
Written by Becky Glockner, Marketing Communications Executive.
29 January 2016