West End Performer Paul Wilkins talks about performing in the Live Semi-Finals of ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ as part of ‘The Frontline Singers’

In March of 2020, the world would shut down in response to the spread of Covid-19, this in turn having devastating impacts on various sectors, including the arts. Forced to close, and in some cases shut down, venues were forced to adapt during an unpredictable period within our modern history, creatives taking on jobs on the frontline in order to support their income. Having graduated from ArtsEd in 2015, and shortly after that taking part in the 30th anniversary company of Les Misérable before embarking on an international tour and the 50th anniversary Tour of Hair, performer Paul Wilkins would take on night shifts at his local supermarket in order to supplement the lack of work available at the time. It was during his 5 months of work that he’d be asked by musical producing duo James Beeny and Gina Georgio to record the song ‘Strange Old World’ with many other key workers and it was here where ‘The Frontline Singers’ were formed. Participants in the 15th series of Britain’s Got Talent, the group would go on to make it to the live semi-finals on Thursday 2nd June. Paul tells us more about this experience and what it’s meant to be a part of The Frontline Singers during such a transformative time.

Hi Paul, you very recently performed at the Britain’s Got Talent live semi-finals as part of The Fronline Singers. How are you feeling after the performance?

I am feeling incredibly grateful to have had the opportunity to share such a wholesome experience with an amazing collective of individuals.

You completed your theatre training at ArtsEd in 2015, having graduated from their BA Hons in Musical Theatre course. What have you taken away from your training?

ArtsEd fully prepared me as an actor to face a range of foreign scenarios that otherwise I may not have felt confident to face. The most important thing I took away from my training is that I am not limited to one particular position within any one company and that I have the ability to play part of an ensemble, a leading role, a creative lead, a regular tv role and so on.

Shortly after graduating, you joined the 30th anniversary company of Les Misérable on London’s West End at The Queen’s Theatre, where you played the role of Marius, before embarking on an international tour of the Philippines, Singapore and UAE. How did you find this experience?

This experience was incredibly surreal and I wouldn’t change it for the world. I was launched from being 2nd Cover Marius to playing Marius on the International Tour – a responsibility that meant I was able to explore and detail my performance to a finer point. Even right through to my last performance on West-End in 2018, this approach continued which helped to keep my performance fresh.

You then workshopped and originated the role of Reggie in original British musical ‘The Dreamers’ which played at the famous Abbey Road Studios and you’ve also recently finished development rehearsals for new musical ‘Lady M’- with both shows having been written and produced by duo James Beeny and Gina Georgio. What did the creative process involve for both shows and how have you found working on musicals at their very beginnings?

Working on musicals within its early stages is a brilliant opportunity to work alongside like minded people – The process often involves working through any existing text, music, and exploring the characters.

The arts were severely impacted by the pandemic, with many professionals having to seek work or support elsewhere. What was the impact on your line of work?

Prior to the pandemic, I felt I was on a positive trajectory and I felt confident that it was only a matter of time before my next job offer – this obviously wasn’t the case. During Covid-19, screenwork was able to adapt and continue, but stage performances were not. As my past experiences are based in theatre, the likelihood of continuing acting work during the pandemic was very unlikely. The educational and hospitality industry was also heavily affected with part-time work limited to those already employed. This lack of part-time opportunity meant I had to take on an unfamiliar position at my local supermarket where I worked from 10pm to 7am in the morning stacking shelves.

It was during this time that your friends James Beeny and Gina Georgio invited you and other key workers to record the song ‘Strange Old World’ in aid of NHS charities. How did you find this experience and feedback from viewers?

The feedback from viewers, friends and family has been staggering and makes me incredibly proud to have played a small role in something so epic.

What has it meant to you to be a part of The Frontline Singers?

We have all faced difficulties the past few years and my own challenge was to remain positive towards my own career choice due to the lack of opportunity as our industry gradually found its feet again. This being said, The Frontline Singers has been a type of therapy and reminder of the importance of music, singing, performance and the amazing effect it has on us and human beings. It has been a beautiful, wholesome and humbling experience.

Questions by Lucy Basaba.

The Fronline Singers made it to this year’s Britain’s Got Talent Semi-Finals and performed on Thursday 2nd June 2022. To watch their performance, visit here…

To find out more about Paul Wilkins, visit here…

Written by Theatrefullstop