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BBM Podcast with Tim Edwards

Podcast with Tim Edwards

Podcast with Tim Edwards

In episode 2 of the BBM podcast “This Business Called Show”, we talk to actor and BBM client, Tim Edwards. Tim can currently be seen playing the role of Chandler in the UK Tour of Friendsical the musical. His previous credits include Wicked, Book of Mormon, Tarzan and Tanz der Vampire.



Amy: Hi, Tim. How are you?

Tim: I’m all right. How are you?

Amy: I’m very good, thank you.

Welcome to This Business Called Show Podcast.

Tim: Thanks for having me.

Amy: For our listeners, the joys of technology, we have probably tried this introduction five times!

We’re about to hear the actual challenge of the actor, which is to make it sound like we’re doing it for the first time.

Tim: Yes, that’s the challenge.

Amy: Yeah, exactly.

Hi, Tim.

How are you?

Tim: I’m very well, thank you. How are you?

Amy: I’m very good.

Welcome to This Business Called Show Podcast.

Hey, it’s great to have you with us today.

Tim: Fabulous to be here.

Amy: We’re just going to get stuck in straight away.

You’ve been in this industry for a few years now. Can you talk us through some of the work you’ve done and the different experiences that you’ve gained?

Tim: I can indeed. Would you like me to start at the beginning?

Amy: Yes.

Tim: Chronological run through?

Amy: Yeah, give us that timeline.

Tim: All right. Okay.

Well, I graduated from Guildford School of Acting in 2007, dating myself a little bit there.

So I went straight into Peter Pan by Styles and Drewe at Birmingham Rep. And it was a really nice sort of way to start easing in with some new sort of theatre. I think we were the first “on stage” version to be done, and then I carried that over and did it again the next year at West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds.

In between that, I did a couple of little things like James and the Giant Peach at Southampton Nuffield. I did Departure Lounge, the musical at Edinburgh Fringe, which is a wonderful experience.

I then went over to Germany and spent four years there. So I started in Tarzan in Hamburg with Disney, and then in Stuttgart, I did Tanz der Vampire for a year, and then I ended up going on tour in Germany, Austria and Switzerland with Grease, which was great fun.

I came back and went into the first UK tour of Wicked. And then after that I went into the West End for the first time as a swing in the Book of Mormon, which was pretty much the best thing ever for a South Park fan like me.

By the way, I should precursor that.

Then I went into a touring show called All Or Nothing about the rock band The Small Faces, and played the lead in that. It was an actor-musician piece, so my first actor-muso job.

And then after that I sort of went off and did my own thing for a while. I became a fitness instructor. I did a lot of panto over those years. I ended up doing some guest entertainment on cruise ships.

And then during the pandemic, strangely enough, I felt this really weird tug of seeing people struggling, fellow actors who I could see that I knew had been in fantastic jobs in the West End and big roles on tour. We were all working from home or doing online content or delivering packages for Hermes and I thought I actually kind of felt more solidarity then as an actor than I did before. And that was actually one of the things that spurred me.

And now I’m on tour with Friendsical the musical playing Chandler Bing.

That’s where we are. I’m up to date I think pretty much covered it.

Amy: That’s amazing.

You’ve got a pretty impressive CV on you there.

Tim: Thank you.

Amy: Amazing. So can you tell us what is it about the performing arts industry that made you want to pursue it professionally?

Tim: So my parents were both opera singers and met at the Guildhall School of Acting, but they did the opera course and as it was very difficult to break into theatre in those days as well because there were way more hoops to jump through as far as Equity and Spotlight and getting in the room goes. And as well, the world of opera is very cut throat. When I was growing up, they always said, please don’t go into the performing arts. And of course I took that as every time you tell a child not to do something, that’s the first thing they want to do. So that’s what kind of got me into it, “Why what’s so horrible about it?!” And then I started doing loads of school plays and just didn’t stop. And then ended up doing National Youth Music Theatre when I was 15.

And then it came round to choosing between drama school or going off and doing a degree and my two choices, this is going to sound absolutely ridiculous by the way, I don’t think I’ve ever told this out loud to people. My two choices of degree were… I got into GSA to do the musical theatre course, or I got into the School of Oriental and African Studies as part of Central School of London to study Japanese music history and culture.

There we are.

Amy: There we go. You heard it here first, everyone.

Tim: Yeah. I was always very interested in music, but I didn’t know which way I was going to go with it. And I’m just really, really glad I went the way I did because of the fact that I just needed an active job, because I’m also a little bit of a Tigger, so I can’t really sit still. There we are.

Amy: Amazing.

Yeah, I’m the same. I just feel like, the feeling that you can gain from working in this industry is just incredible, and no other job for me, kind of gives you that same feeling and it never feels like work, which I think is the beauty of it. You have your down days, it’s hard, but when you get that job, it’s really rewarding. And I think sometimes when you’re on stage and you’re performing, you forget that actually it is a job.

Tim: That’s very true.

I think we as actors have the propensity to complain a lot, but in actual fact, it’s only because we’re so passionate about what we do.

One of those wonderful things that they always say that actors complain all the time and then you just come off stage and you go, hang on a minute, what am I complaining about? I have the best job in the world. This is great.

Amy: That is the best job.

So you mentioned that you’re currently playing Chandler in Friendsical the UK tour. Now, can you just talk us through what life is like on tour and maybe kind of some of the pros and cons that you’ve experienced?

Tim: Of course. Yeah. Well, it’s not my first rodeo. I’ve toured quite a few times and I have to say, actually, that as a person, individually, I love touring because I’m not really one of those kind of home comfort people. I’m not too worried about being in one place at one time, any one time, and establishing creature comforts, what kind of picture goes on the wall and all that kind of stuff. I really love the touring life and so I would say the pros far outweigh the cons for me.

I love the idea of going to new places, getting to see a city that I’ve never been to before, finding out about the culture, seeing if it has any historical significance, because I’m a bit of a history nerd. I just love touring. I think it’s wonderful.

And the other fact of the matter is that touring provides people with a whole brand new opportunity.

Which is if you can’t afford to get to London to see a West End show or any other show, when the entertainment comes to you in your town, there’s this sort of gratitude that comes from an audience of like, “Thanks for coming over here. Thanks for putting on a good show. We really appreciate it”. And I always feel as though the gratitude that you receive through touring is just a little bit more than when you’re working in.. and I’m not bashing the West End at all because it was one of the greatest experiences of my life, but, you know, for me that was just like one year staying in a flat in London with the living costs as they are going there, finishing up, “Thank you very much. That was awesome”, and then you go home and you do it again. You don’t get to go to somewhere up north. You don’t get to go to Scotland and see parts of the country that you’ve never seen or in fact, the world.

When I was in Germany touring with Grease I got to go to towns and cities that I’d never even heard of. And you get to go and climb up to the castle in Salzburg and see where they filmed The Sound of Music and stuff like that. It’s just a wonderful life, really. Yes.

Amy: I also did that Sound of Music tour.

Really classic.

Got to get ticked off the list.

Tim: Did you convince all of your cast mates to do the photo around the Fountain?

Amy: Oh 100%.

Tim: Of course you did.

Amy: You have to. Have you been to Salzburg if you don’t have that picture?!

Tim: Yeah, right. Pictures or it didn’t happen.

Amy: Exactly.

So when you’re on tour, can you just talk us through kind of what a daily routine would look like? Because you are traveling around a lot. What’s the standard routine?

Tim: Well, the first thing is wake up groggy eyed, down a glass of water and then convince yourself to get to the gym… I think is the first thing that you do. For me, it’s very important to start the day right. It also helps as well, whenever you find people in the cast who are like minded. So, I always erm, me, Chandler, and the guy playing Ross… So Chandler and Ross go to the gym every morning. Now, that’s just a nice little routine that we’ve established.

But I will say that that is one of those parts of touring that is also very important to keep because you remember that your job is to do the show the same every night. So rather than recreate the same thing every day, go and do a different workout every morning and keep yourself stimulated. And then try and make it an absolute must to get out and just walk somewhere for about an hour. Doesn’t matter what you see. It doesn’t matter where you go. Make sure you’re out in the fresh air. Because we are creatures of the inside. We stay indoors quite a lot of the day. And especially when you’re in a theatre or wherever you’re performing, it’s dark, you’re getting artificial light and it’s very important to see the sun at some point or we all turn into vampires.

Other than that, eat well, eat healthy and make sure you’re staying stimulated at all times. Because once you get into the theatre, it’s all work.

Amy: You just mentioned there about staying healthy. And you’ve told us that you go to the gym and you go on your walks, which is great, but how do you stay on top of your nutrition? Aren’t you eating at like, awkward times, like hotel food? How do you kind of manage that situation?

Tim: I think it’s very important to understand what works for you. I’m not ashamed to say this, that when I was on tour with Wicked in 2013, 2014, I didn’t stay on top of my nutrition or my health. I didn’t go to the gym. I was still eating meat and dairy and a lot of drinking, a lot of milk and stuff like that. And I basically pushed myself into a corner of being unhealthy.

And as well, I was actually eating as a sort of a coping mechanism because I would finish a show and feel weird and my voice would be going and I’d think, “Why is this happening?”. So I’d sort of go and have a yogurt to cheer myself up. Not the way to go, by the way. That’s very bad behaviour. I gave myself a slap on the wrist years later for it.

But I think it’s important just to remember that you’re only human and the way to stay on top of it is just to be calm. Don’t worry about it. You just plan out your meal for the day, know exactly when your cut off point is. That’s the other thing, I always say that the cut off time for me to eat anything is 8:00 in the evening. So I will either have dinner directly after the show and grab something that I can, even if it’s a sandwich locally and I don’t get anything else after that, it’s fine, because then you’re not eating right before you go to bed. You’re not sleeping on a full stomach.

For me as well, it’s quite easy to keep on top of it, being I’m not a preachy vegan, but I am a vegan, so I don’t end up eating any meat or dairy, which actually takes longer to process and can make you feel quite lethargic.

And luckily, as well, I’ll say this, I’m not a cheese lover. I never was. People think I’m crazy for it, but I don’t have a craving for cheese. And cheese is the silent killer when you come home and you need some comfort food.

I remember those days, cut off times before a performance as well, for eating, because I don’t eat anything before… one and a half hours before a show. Yeah. Otherwise bad things happen.

Amy: It’s not what you want on stage.

Tim: No.

Amy: Thank you so much. That’s really helpful insight into your daily life. And hopefully we have some listeners that are getting ready to go away for the first time. They can kind of take some of that feedback on board.

So some of our listeners may not know this, but when you’re on tour, the performer is responsible for finding their own digs while they’re away. How do you personally find this set up? And do you think the industry should be doing more to support performers in finding accommodation?

Tim: I have had this conversation recently, I remember having to find my own digs for a couple of productions and it’s a real pain. It is quite irritating because obviously you’re never sure of any guarantee of quality, of being treated well. It’s a bit of a lottery and I think with new agreements being passed, I mean, Equity is actually just in the last few days, agreed, a 4% rise in touring allowances as well, which is going to help because obviously we want to be able to spend a little bit more on our accommodation to make sure it’s good.

But I do think that especially when you’re in tours, where you’re staying for maybe the maximum three nights and then you have big chunks of traveling, I think it’s actually probably in the best interest of the production company to make sure that the performers are well looked after and sort of not zombified by the time they get to a venue.

I’m aware that through Equity you can apply to get a company rate through Travelodge. So if you go to Equity and ask for a particular code, they’ll give you a company number and you get a 5% sort of discount on Travelodge on a company price. Not a lot of people know that. There’s some life hacks for you. But I do think going forward it would be to everybody’s benefit if tour buses, for instance, and corporate deals with hotel chains, would actually be far more beneficial because as well, now that we’re living in a post COVID society, the ideas of doubling up need to be taken more seriously because COVID is still out there and the best way to make sure that that stays under control is to keep your cast together.

And then the other part of that is the travel. We’re looking at different people trying to get up to a different location, all separately. And it could be that from one day to the next you’re trying to get from, let’s say, Cardiff to Dundee. That is almost an impossibility for some people, especially if they’ve got suitcases. And the last thing you want to be worrying about while you’re traveling is, oh, God, I’ve got to do a show tonight, I’m on a seven hour train journey.

So I think if production companies could be negotiated with to provide travel and blanket accommodation, they would see a lot better results as far as performance quality, but also morale within their companies. And I think morale within companies is something that has often been taken for granted, but is so important and

you’re never going to get a good performance out of a bunch of people who are just down in the dumps.

Amy: Yeah, I think you’ve made some really interesting points there and yeah, I think it is something that does need to be spoken about and I think there is room for growth and change within our industry. And like I said, it has been a big topic of conversation recently and I’m glad Equity have provided that 4% increase. But it’s imperative that performers feel safe, like you said, so they can go on stage each night and perform to the best of their ability. If they’re not happy in digs, if they’re knackered from all the traveling, you’re just not going to get the best out of them.

That’s when the voice starts to go, the physicality starts to go. They’re not giving that 100% and then yeah, it’s just not the show that it could, that it should be. So I think it’s the mental health and the wellbeing of performers is really important. There should be people out there that are making sure that performers are doing okay. Because I know you said at the start that you’re okay being away from home comforts, but if you’re on tour for a year, you know, everybody’s kind of got the breaking point and you just don’t want to feel knackered, do you?

Tim: That’s very true. Yeah.

I think that the analogy I would use is that of a sort of a rechargeable battery. If you’re looking at your phone or if you’re looking at your watch, iwatch or whatever the heck you’ve got, this isn’t an endorsement, by the way. Please cut that. Cut that. What I mean is if you go home and you don’t have the time or you don’t have the quality of charging. If you’ve gone to a pound store and bought a charger that doesn’t recharge your phone the full way. The next day you’re going to be operating on 85% battery and then the next day you’re going to be operating on 75 and then 60, 40, 30. It’s going to keep wearing down. The ability to completely recharge as a performer is gone and you just are turning up to the building.

There’s a huge difference between turning up ready to work and just turning up.

Yeah, I don’t know. There we go. That’s my analogy. There’s nothing else to it.

Amy: I love that though. It’s great. I think it’s just the reason I asked this question.

It’s just been a real big topic in our industry and I’m glad that people are pushing for change and hopefully even from us having these types of conversations. The more and more that happens. Something will start to get sorted and then it just becomes an element of tour that people don’t need to worry and stress about and they can just enjoy all the fun things that you said of being able to visit different countries. Different cities. Embrace the culture and just enjoy being away with a great group of people doing a job that you love.

Yeah, especially for the young performers.

Tim: I would say to anybody coming out of drama school or going into the industry early, I know there’s never a bad time to talk. For me, that’s how I feel. But as well, when you first come out and you actually weirdly have very little pressure on you as an adult human, this is going to sound horrendously patronizing, but the time to tour is always now. There’s never a bad time to do it, but if you can get in there early and just see everything you want to see, do everything you want to do in this sort of free environment of just understanding that you’re literally getting paid to travel is one of the great joys.

And that’s why I still keep going back and doing it, because I’m in Coventry right now. I have never been to Coventry before and I get the chance to go and do a tour of the old cathedral that got bombed out during the war and they built this glorious new cathedral next to it, and there’s incredible art there, and the university campus is great. I found an awesome CrossFit gym. Yes, I’m going to say it, but you can actually go and become part of a local community for a short amount of time and just live it and feel it, and then you move on and it’s okay, because that’s just what we do. We move.

We’re a nomadic species. Oh, God. Now I’m getting all prophetic and pretentious. I don’t like this.

Amy: It’s been so great talking with you, Tim, but just before we finish, we’re going to play a quick fire round. I really wish I had, like, an exciting title for the end of this section, but I get to create one. So if any listeners out there have any suggestions, then please email and let us know.

So, Tim, I’m going to ask you a series of questions that you need to answer quickly.

Tim: I’ve actually got a suggestion for this.

All right, so, this is a quick fire round of questions for actors, right? What about the Lovey’s Lightning round?

Amy: Oooooh, yes.

Tim: I’m just throwing it out there, throwing out the chum, hoping to get a bite. That’s just throwing my 50p into the ring.

Amy: Yes, I’m enjoying that. Do you know what? Maybe we need to turn into some sort of competition. Maybe we’ll open up a little cheeky voting line and see if we can get suggestions then.

Tim: But there you go. You know what else you should do? Open up the competition and see if anybody can write a jingle for it as well.

Amy: Yeah, we did talk about this. I was straight to the jingle as well.

Tim: I love writing jingles. I’m going to send something in.

Amy: I’m going to see if you can rise or crumble under the pressure.

Are you ready?

Tim: I am now.

Amy: Right, easy one to start off with. Your favourite musical?

Tim: Book of Mormon.

Amy: A musical you would like to be in?

Tim: Guys and Dolls.

Amy: If you could have dinner with any musical theatre performer, who would it be?

Tim: I’ve got to say my boy, Richard Carson.

Amy: Nice.

The number one most played song on your Spotify playlist.

Tim: Do you really want me to go there? I think it’s Nookie, by Limp Bizkit.

Amy: Amazing.

Tim: Either that or a song called Belicoso by Calva Louise. It is my number one gym “go to” song right now. It’s absolutely banging.

Amy: Love it. Name it.

Three musicals beginning with the letter T.

Tim: T. Why is that so hard?

Amy: I know.

And you’ve been in two of them.

Tim: What? Oh, Tanz der Vampire, Tarzan. Why am I drawing a blank here? We’re going to have to have, like, a 22nd countdown here because I’m trying to think of anything that doesn’t start with “The”.

Amy: I’ll accept it, you can go for it.

Tim: Well, I don’t want to. This is making me look really bad.

Amy: Oh, don’t worry. This question makes everyone look really bad. That’s why I keep putting it in the quick fire round!

Tim: Why can’t I think of anything?! Pass.

Amy: What’s your “go to” karaoke song?

Tim: Gasoline by Audio Slave.

Amy: Love your music choices.

Can you give me your best Scottish accent?

Tim: Would you like me to do it from Glasgow or anywhere else? This is actually me just doing an impression of my uncle who’s from Glasgow, but also a little bit of a shout out to George Ure, who was Boc for so many years. We used to hang out quite a lot in Wicked.

Amy: I’m gonna give you that, Tim. Yeah, not bad. Well done.

Tim: Thanks.

Amy: Right, finish the phrase “the way to my heart is?”

Tim: … to make me laugh.

Amy: To make you laugh. That’s a nice one.

I’m going to let you finish there. Have you thought of another musical that begins with T?

Tim: No. Oh. The Mystery of Edwin Drood.

Amy: There we go. I’ll give you that.

Tim: Do you know what’s going to happen? We’re going to hang up and I’m going to have, like, seven.

Amy: Yep. Your full day now all you’re going to think about is musicals that begin with the letter T.

I was kind to you. I gave you two.

Tim: You gave me two that I was in. That is embarrassing. I’m going to get phone calls.

Amy: Ah Tim, it’s been so lovely chatting with you today.

Thank you so much for hopping on and being our guest.

Tim: You’re welcome. In my one and only appearance. Thank you. That’ll be…. thank you, ladies and gentlemen.

Amy: Thank you.

I’ll speak to you soon, Tim. Take care.

Tim: All right. Thanks, Amy.