Will Barratt has been performing in London’s West End (Jersey Boys, Phantom, War of the Worlds, Producers) for a while now but he became someone to look out for amongst Alfie Boe fans when he understudied Alfie’s Billy Bigelow in ENO’s Carousel; he literally took over from Alfie half way through a show after Alfie came down with an ear infection. Two more shows the next day followed, both to rave reviews. I interviewed Will after the end of the five week run and although he was quick to point out he had no expectation of performing the role, in the event that he did, said that “it was good to get on for a couple of shows together, like a preview and opening night in two shows”. Additionally, Will said that although Alfie was sad to have to miss the show, he was “so pleased that I got on – he was dead happy for me”. If you want to hear Will singing the soliloquy, click here for a pre-show talk and performance at ENO (soliloquy starts at 23m).
As Will’s only role in the production was to understudy Billy, I was keen to find out about the creative process and rehearsal period; how much was he involved? It turns out that both Will and Molly Lynch, who understudied Katherine Jenkins as Julie, were as fully involved as Alfie and Katherine from day one. Whoever plays the part, the blocking and direction is the same, it’s the thought processes of the actor that differs. Will says that “Alfie, Katherine, Molly and I, we all got on, we worked through stuff together…Alfie was also going through the process of figuring out the role, he didn’t know what it was on day one either. We were all doing it together”.
Now, you might be wondering about the headline of this piece – Confessions of a Justified Sinner. This is the title of Will’s self penned debut album, released in 2015 and showcases his seemingly effortless talent for singing, playing multiple instruments and song writing. Of the songs themselves, Will says that “all the songs on this album contain bits of me, my life, history, wants and needs, aches and pains, ups and downs…they are my confessions”. He leaves it up to us as to whether he is a justified sinner or not!
Being self penned, this album is not what you might expect from a musical theatre performer – there are a few songs that wouldn’t be out of place in a musical but on the whole, the songs are a mix of upbeat, rockier, pop and jazz with a hint of Americana that really get you up and out of your seat. To me, a great song is one that you instantly sing along to or you can’t sit still to and both the opening track, Give Me Some Time and Demon, towards the end, had me up and dancing straight away. These two songs, together with Fearless (below), a beautiful ballad and the almost Buble-esque Never Thought, are my favourite songs. Interestingly, Give Me Some Time and Never Thought are songs originally written when Will was at school, just reworked and rearranged to give a more sophisticated sound.
Will’s fabulous voice handles all these styles with great versatility and is a joy to listen to.
Confessions of a Justified Sinner is available here:
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