Spotlight On… Glenn Adamson

Glenn Adamson has just completed a run in The Rise and Fall of Little Voice at The Union Theatre. He’s also been asked back to appear in pantomime at The Mercury Theatre, but what have his career highlights been to date and how did he come to be an performer? I found out!

How have you enjoyed the role of Billy in The Rise and Fall of Little Voice and how familiar were you with the piece prior to landing the part?

I’m originally a northern boy and now live in Leeds between jobs. So I love the strong northern writing of Little Voice, and I actually think I’ve met all of these characters at some point (that’s a scary thought). I first saw the play at the West Yorkshire Playhouse a couple of years ago, I loved it so much I went back the next night. I knew then I wanted to be in this play and Billy is the obvious role (though I’d happily audition for LV) so I jumped at the chance to audition.

Have you a favourite scene or moment in the show?

I love the celebration dance off between Sadie and Mari to ‘Jackson Five’. You laugh, you cringe, but we’ve all done it at some point in our lives – when you are so happy and the only way to express it is to dance! I also look forward to that because we all give it beans with our own routine back stage, if you could see into the wings you’d see the remaining cast members throwing some serious shapes!

Has your perception of your character and indeed the story altered as the show has progressed?

The idea of Billy climbing LV’s bedroom window to speak to her, when he barely knows her, is quite a creepy notion. How would you react if a stranger starts banging on your window! I felt like a creep doing it at first, but now I’ve realised he’s just willing to do anything to get through to this girl. She’s a rare find for Billy, they are both surrounded by big characters in a world of noise and chaos, and they both are quiet and introverted. He finds his parallel in LV and he’ll stop at nothing to make her notice him. I imagine they are probably each other’s first and only friends, people are quick to give up on quiet people, they mistake shyness for rudeness or stupidity, when actually they are just observing the world and taking it all in. He’s so eager for a like minded friend and he finds her.

What led you to follow a performing career?

I was very theatrical from a young age, always playing characters and putting on performances for anyone that would watch. As I got older I became quite shy and thrived off the idea of being someone else for a small period of time. I was so confident when I was pretending to be someone else but not as Glenn. So my parents sent me to the local youth theatre and I thrived there. Glenn the actor was much more confident than Glenn the school boy. I refused to do any drama at school, I was too afraid of people seeing that side of me. I still find it much easier to get on stage in front of an audience than I would to talk to a stranger for the first time.

Any highlights so far?

I did a national tour of ‘Secret Love: The Doris Day Story’ and played Doris’ son. It was filled with soft shoe dances and amazing songs. It was a great meaty role and I was working with great actors that taught me lots about how to survive in this industry. My favourite jobs are always the ones where I’m the youngest in the cast, everyone takes you under their wings and you get adopted theatre parents for the run. I realise it’s not going to be that way forever, thus far though I’ve always been the youngest in any cast I’ve been in. Long may it continue!!

What is your advice for people who wish to follow a career in performing arts?

I went straight to drama school at 18. I sometimes think that’s too young to go and train. I was so eager to be out in the industry. But at 18 its such a big change just to leave home and live alone, let alone some of the pressures of drama school and the things you have to do. I’d tell an 18 year old me, to take a year to find myself, do all the things you can’t do as an actor, like travelling the world etc. It’s so hard to play a range of other complex characters on stage when you don’t really know who you are yet! Once your out of drama school for the first two years just take whatever comes you way, you learn on the job.

Finally, a little birdie tells me you’re playing Dick Whittington this Christmas, are you excited to be performing in another pantomime and what do you enjoy most about panto?

Yes I can’t wait. I’m heading back to The Mercury Theatre in Colchester after playing Aladdin for them last year. I love it there, I’ve never known such a friendly welcoming environment. I’m just grateful they haven’t got sick of me yet. The Mercury really get it, they keep in all the stuff families love splosh scenes and ghost gags etc, but they write their actors a really strong script and a beautiful score to sing. So everyone’s happy! It’s not too cheesy but still has the family magic.

 Thanks to Glenn for chatting to Break A Leg, I can testify that he was the perfect Billy in The Rise and Fall of Little Voice and best wishes are sent to him for future projects and indeed, panto! Oh yes they are….

Feature Photo credit: Scott Rylander


The Rise And Fall Of Little Voice ~ Union Theatre, Southwark


  • Dates
    2nd – 26th June 2016
  • Times
    Tuesday to Saturday @ 7.30pm
    Saturday and Sunday @ 2.30pm

Please note performances will take place at our current venue

My over-riding memory of Little Voice, written by Jim Cartwright, is the film version which was performed so fantastically by a well-known cast including Brenda Blethyn, Jane Horrocks, Ewan McGregor and Michael Caine. Having such respect for the film meant that the stage show had big shoes to fill.

Little Voice tells the story of the Hoff family, there’s the widowed Mari, a woman to whom spit and polish is a stranger and alcohol is a regular companion. Then there’s LV, her timid and withdrawn daughter who spends her life in her bedroom listening to records. These records are so embedded in her head that she has developed the ability to mimic the greats, such as Shirley Bassey, Judy Garland and Marilyn Monroe, to name but a few. Whenever LV becomes distressed, which is a frequent occurrence, courtesy of her mother most of the time, up the stairs she goes and the record player is switched on. LV’s talent is hidden until she’s discovered by the over-eager and leery Ray Say who is her mother’s latest conquest. Then there’s Billy, who hangs around outside LV’s bedroom window in the hope that she’ll take an interest in his light show, and an interest in him, too. It’s a heart-wrenching tale of a dysfunctional family and their acquaintances, who all lack one fundamental ingredient in their lives… love.

I was won over from the start and this incredible piece of theatre completely blew me away. The space lent itself beautifully to the action, providing the audience with an intimate insight into the fray.

Charlotte Gorton knocked Brenda Blethyn’s performance off my radar as Mari Hoff, she was raucous, simpering and bordered on disgusting at times, but left just enough vulnerability to show that she has a heart, she just doesn’t know how to use it. Ken Christiansen gives it plenty of swagger as Ray, well cast as the Jack the Lad who’s looking to feather his own nest. He brought out a likeable quality in an otherwise devious character and I didn’t see that quality, previously. I liked the light and shade that he created and I’m keen to see more of Christiansen’s work.

James Peake epitomized Peter Kay as Club Owner, Mr Boo, he worked the audience brilliantly and lightened the tone of the show at all of the right times. Mandy Dassa played Sadie and her facial expressions said it all, which is necessary with Mari’s introverted next door neighbour. Glenn Adamson played love-struck Billy with a gentile quality which was endearing, the chemistry between Adamson and Carly Thoms who played LV, was just right for the would-be romance.

Carly Thoms is an amazing talent, her capabilities seem boundless, she plays the shy and frightened LV superbly, but when she embodies LV’s various heroes, her mimicry is second to none. She can impersonate Bassey, Monroe, Garland, Maria Callas and Piaf, one after the other, non-stop and her vocal ability is breath-taking. The difference between Thoms’ performance and that of Jane Horrocks is that I already knew that Horrocks had the knack. The surprise factor that accompanied Thoms’ put her performance off the scale.

From the costumes, to the set to the casting, it’s hard to find a show that one can liken to perfection, but I believe that this show has perfection written all over it. If you’re not able to see this tremendous piece of theatre, you’re missing out on one of the plays of the year.  those tickets as soon as you can by following the link and enjoy!

Photo Credit: Scott Rylander

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