Rory Taylor: Actor, Musician & Superstar
With Rent In Concert coming to the Lyceum later this month we thought we'd catch up with leadng man, Rory Taylor. The runner up in Andrew Lloyd Webber's Jesus Christ Superstar from Liverpool is a busy man, when he isn't on stage acting, he's touring with his band 54321 and preparing to release a solo album so we quizzed him on how he manages his time, life after Superstar and why he chose to take on the role of Roger, the former drug addict and rockstar.
What part do you play in Rent?
Roger is an ex-heroin addict who has contracted AIDS. Prior to the story his girlfriend also contracted AIDS and killed herself, so obviously he is in a very dark and strange place. He is an ex rock star and songwriter too and is trying to fulfil his dream of making one last amazing song before his time is up. In the process of all that he also finds love. So, it is a rocky road from the start. Rent isn’t as dark as it sounds; Roger has a lot of layers and history but it just makes it a really interesting role to play. And I also get to play guitar which is great.
What attracted you to perform in the production?
I love the music, the story and the theme of Rent, it is so relevant to today as it was twenty years ago when it was first written. It’s timeless. There are great characters in the production too. Sometimes it isn’t about the character you play yourself but the characters you interact with on stage – the likes of Mimi, Angle and Collins. Roger’s room mate Mark too, they have a really brotherly relationship. It is a whole lot of fun to play.
What is it like working on such a large production?
Well we are based in Liverpool which is my hometown so, I’ve been able to come and go and actually stay with my parents for once. You become one big family though really. During the tour we will be living on a tour bus. You get used to the lifestyle really quickly and it is such a nice way to do it. You spend time together and become a family, it’s my favourite way to work.
As Rent is a famous story that has been in theatres for decades, is it difficult to reinvent?
With modern advancements regarding the subject matter, it actually gets easier. Now we are constantly subjected to stories in the media about violence and crimes that are so common now. Because of that it is easier to translate that on stage. Twenty years’ ago AIDS was still a taboo, something you shouldn’t really talk about and deal with. It was labelled as the gay disease but now we know more about it and understand it more. Roger is a straight guy who has contracted it through needles so, it challenges a lot of myths. The whole production has naturally evolved without losing the essential parts for the dedicated Rent fans.
Do you feel added pressure with it being a known tale or does the fact that it is already adored make it easier?
It’s a funny question really; you have to stick to a certain guideline because it’s what people expect. People don’t necessarily think about the actor behind the character but it is a lot about them. How they perceive and connect with the characters they play.
With Rent being so political, does it paint a picture for future productions you want to be involved with?
I think the story is incredibly important. What attracted me most to Rent was the complexity of the characters and the subject matter as it is so relevant and brave. I think I’ll always go for those with a juicy story, but as a musician I’m also attracted to great music!
You’re also in the band 54321, how do you manage to juggle everything?
So far, I’ve been very lucky. My calendar has allowed me to balance my acting and music quite well. It’s panned out so I had time to go on tour in Europe with the band but also come back and do stuff over here. I have a break from RENT over Christmas for instance and I’ll go back on tour with the band then. I’m hoping to find more time in the New Year though for some solo work and dedicate time toward my first solo album.
Don't forget to enter our competition for the chance to win a pair of tickets for the show, details on how here. Catch Rent on November 18 at the Lyceum Theatre, 7.45pm, £27-£30.