Heart FM’s Ed James on butterflies, split sole jazz sneakers and singing lessons!

Heart FM’s popular breakfast show presenter Ed James blogs about  his forthcoming starring role in the Birmingham musical Wallop Mrs Cox which receives its Birmingham Hippodrome premiere next week.

Ed James in rehearsal

Let me rewind time for you!  It was back in January when I agreed to my theatrical debut!  I was very honest with everyone,  I told them there are three things they needed to know, “I can’t act, can’t sing and definitely can’t dance” – “you’ll be fine was the reply!”      I think I have this thing whereby people always think I’m taking the mickey and having a laugh …… when rehearsals started they realised I was being totally honest!

Since the start of the year we’ve been rehearsing twice a week, Thursday night and all day Sunday and it’s been loads of fun!  There’s nothing quite like trying things you’re no good at to focus the mind and get you on that steep learning curve.  At the very back of my mind was always the fact in June, we’d be doing this for real, live and totally exposed on one of the finest stages in the UK!    Well, over the past few weeks that thought has gone from the back, to the very front of my mind!!

Over the weeks and months we’ve been learning the numbers individually and we’re now at the stage where we’re putting it all together.  Inevitably some of it works, some of it doesn’t, some bits we keep, some we have to relearn or tweak.  Last Friday our set arrived at Birmingham Hippodrome.  It’s impressive!  Modern, striking, sweeping and not to mention quite high!  We actually had bets on who would be the first to fall off before opening night!  This was a huge turning point because in many cases things clicked into place and made doing what we had learned really come to life.  However, the opposite is also true and the set actually exposes the scenes which need more work, which is the reason for a few extra rehearsals this week!

How am I feeling at the moment??   Nervous really doesn’t cover it!  For the past week I’ve not been sleeping and what’s more I’ve been waking up in the middle of the night reciting lines from the show and at one point … even dancing!  Trying to explain why I was doing a ball change and a ‘step –  turn – step’ under the covers was an interesting moment!  I’m not sure if this is normal or not but I’ve also got a constant feeling of butterflies!  Honestly!  I could be making a cup of tea and suddenly think to myself, “why do I feel anxious?”, then I’ll remember what I’ll be doing at 7.30pm on June 8th!

Full cast rehearsal, Birmingham Royal Ballet studios, Birmingham Hippodrome

We’re all too familiar with the word journey at the moment, we’re used to hearing Simon Cowell et al telling the fame hungry wannabees on X Factor that they’ve been on their own ‘journey’.  But it really is the only word I can think of to describe the process of being involved with a show.  From the things you learn, to the people.

There have also been many firsts ……. I’ve danced in the same place as the world famous Birmingham Royal Ballet, (what’s more I was wearing my own split sole jazz sneakers!)  I’ve had singing lessons!  And I’ve found myself practicing dance steps at 5 AM in the morning in the Kitchen!  I also can’t remember having as much fun as this for a long time!

The cast are hugely talented, it’s well written, the songs are simply stunning and you’ll be singing them for days afterwards.   It really will make you proud to be a Brummie.  I hope you’ll come and see the show and I hope you love it!

Bring on opening night!

Wallop Mrs Cox is a co-production by BMOS Theatre Company in conjunction with Birmingham Hippodrome.   It runs at Birmingham Hippodrome from 8-12 June. www.birminghamhippodrome.com

 Follow Ed James on twitter @edjames1


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