Dean John-Wilson has had a busy eight years working in the West End, from his first show; the UK Tour of Sister Act, he went on to take up roles in From Here to Eternity, The King and I, and Here Lies Love at The National. He is probably best known in London for playing the title role in the original West End cast of Aladdin, and just this year he experienced his first Edinburgh Fringe, playing Greg McConnell in Cruel Intentions The Musical, directed by Jonathan O’Boyle.
Dean and Jonathan are reunited for the UK concert premiere of Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella, which will have a semi-staged production at Cadogan Hall on 20th October. It was originally conceived for television, and was remade twice before a new adaptation by Douglas Carter Beane saw it mounted on Broadway for the first time in 2013. The concert at Cadogan Hall will be the first time this new adaptation has been seen in the UK, and will be accompanied by the London Musical Theatre Orchestra.
When Dean found out that Jonathan would be directing Cinderella, he knew it was something he wanted to be a part of, “Jonathan and I get on like a house on fire,” says Dean, “he’s a great man personally, as well as professionally, and when he told me he was casting this brand new adaptation making its UK Premiere, I was desperate to be involved.”
Dean will play the role of Jean Michel, a new character added by Douglas Carter Beane, “I think there’s some typecasting going on,” laughs Dean, “I always seem to get cast as the guy who falls in love with someone outside of his social class, but I love this character, he’s a bit of a pauper that wants to do good for social change.”
That’s part of a wider theme in Douglas Carter Beane’s adaptation, which see’s Ella (Christine Allado) highlights to Prince Topher (Jac Yarrow) the injustices within his Kingdom. “I guess most people know Cinderella through Disney or Pantomimes,” says Dean, “but that’s not what this is, there’s definitely the backbone of the story we all know and love, but the characters in this Cinderella have far more depth, they are more three dimensional, and the music is just fantastic.”
“It’s classic Rodgers + Hammerstein, legit musical theatre at its finest,” says Dean excitedly, “it’s rare that I get to sing this kind of material, I do find it challenging but I love it, and I have missed it.” That music will be played by the 21-piece London Musical Theatre Orchestra, under the direction of Freddie Tapner, “I’ve never worked with LMTO before so I know I am in for a treat.”
This isn’t Dean’s first time in a semi-staged concert, so he knows what to expect, “I’ve done MT Fest and Songs For a New World at The Other Palace, so I know how much hard work goes in to pulling these kind of events off, we don’t have long to rehearse, so everyone will always have to be at the top of their game, but we’re all professionals so I know we all will be.”
It helps that Dean has worked with some of the cast before, “I’m friends with Cedric Neal but we’ve never worked together, so I am looking forward to that. I’ve worked with Jodie Jacobs and Christine Allado before, and Christine and I have played a love interest twice before, so I know we already have that chemistry, it’s a great feeling knowing that going in, but I know everyone will be lovely, it’s such a wonderful cast.”
Dean is genuinely excited to be taking on this new role, “Edinburgh was a blast, I loved it, and I loved working with Jonathan, I’m so excited to see what he, and this amazing cast, do with Cinderella. I cannot wait to hear the opening chord of a Rodgers + Hammerstein musical played by a 21-piece orchestra in Cadogan Hall, the acoustics in that room are incredible, it’s going to be so magical.”
Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella, featuring Dean John-Wilson, is at Cadogan Hall on Sunday 20th October at 6.30pm. Read our review of Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella here.
Main Image Credit: Darren Bell