Trish Takes Five: Alasdair makes West End debut
Alasdair Baker, former member of SADOS (Spalding Amateur Dramatic and Operatic Society) and St Nicolas Players, has just made his West End debut in Tennessee Williams' play, The Night of the Iguana at the Noël Coward Theatre in London.
I first met Alasdair in 2002 in the SADOS production of Carousel. While he dazzled as the lead, Billy Bigelow, I was prancing around in the chorus singing "June is Bustin' Out All Over". We met again in 2006 when, as director, he cast me as Laurey in one of my favourite musicals, Oklahoma!
We probably had the most fun, however, the following year, in The Witches of Eastwick. Alasdair played the devilish role of Daryl Van Horne to my bewitched Alexandra Spofford. You may remember in the movie these characters were played by Jack Nicholson and Cher.
My links with Alasdair have been theatrical but he is perhaps just as well-known as a teacher, educating pupils in German and French in a number of local secondary schools, including Bourne Grammar and The Deepings School from 1995 to 2016.
But his heart has always been on the stage. He trained at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and Guildhall before working as a professional singer, several years before embarking on his teaching career.
Telling me about his years with amateur theatre, Alasdair explained each show that he did "served to remind me there was one thing in life in which I found complete, unalloyed enjoyment and fulfilment, and that was the magic of communication between an audience and the world created on the stage".
Deciding in recent years to have another stab at professional acting, Alasdair was given his first break by Polka Dot Pantomimes, playing Captain Hook in Peter Pan. Since then he has accepted a number of opportunities including voice overs, adverts and photographic work. We will also see him in his first film role, as Buzz Allen in The Strangers, coming out in November this year.
A phone call from his agent, a casting and then, the incredible news: he had secured a part in The Night of the Iguana. Putting his fluent German to good use as Herr Fahrenkopf, Alasdair is performing alongside the hugely talented Lia Williams, Anna Gunn and, returning to the stage after 18 years, actor Clive Owen taking the lead role of Reverend T. Lawrence Shannon.
The Night of the Iguana premiered on Broadway in 1961. Set in a rainforest in Mexico in 1940, it brings together a group of lost souls. The result is an epic battle between flesh and spirit, captivity and freedom, art and faith.
This limited season of the play, directed by James McDonald, continues until 28 September 2019. Alasdair Baker, overjoyed to be working in the West End, explains how it feels to be doing the job he loves. He quotes his fellow performer, Julian Glover, who said in a recent interview, "It's what I am. I am that thing."
You can read Trish's blog at www.mumsgoneto.co.uk