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Michael Mather

21st June 2022

Photographer & Editor-in-chief: Owen James Vincent

Stylist & Art Director: Rory Mcnerney

Stylist Assistant: Oliver Slade

Clothes Designer: Corey Dixon / Somebody Else's Guy

Make Up Artist & Nails: Rita Nieddu

Make Up Artist Assistant: Juste Vaskeviciute

Hair: Lucy Muyanga

Interview: Tadek Chmiel

Assistant & Videographer: Joe Reed

Jewellery: Lucy Quartermaine & We Are PR

Logo Design: Emily Curtis

Michael Mather has experience both on set and on stage, having played lead roles in Off-West End musicals including “Soho Cinders” and the original production of “Mythic”, whilst also appearing in Russel T Davies’ critically acclaimed series “It’s A Sin”, centred around the AIDS epidemic. We chatted to Michael about why he loves being involved in new writing and the direction he hopes to see it take in the future. 

Workshops are an incredibly important part of the process of getting a musical in front of a paying audience, with many shows going through multiple workshops before arriving at that point. You were recently involved in the workshop for “Halls the Musical”. How did you find the process of working on new writing?

I absolutely love working on new writing, it’s super exciting and fresh and something I love to get involved in, especially being a part of the creative process from the start. It’s a super cool feeling! For example, with “Mythic”, the writers were in the room along with the creative team, so being able to work so closely with the writers on the script and music was really exciting because they take your changes and they work with it. With the score, if you did something differently and the writer loved it, then they would rewrite that section, which is mega, especially when you hear or see the show in a different production and you hear the song being sung by different actors, it makes you feel proud to have been a part of that creative process. New writing is the best because there’s so much leeway to be way more creative with it, which makes it so much fun. Halls had actually been through a few workshop stages already and I just came in for the most recent, so it was really interesting to hear from the people that had been involved from the start about how different it is now. Big up to new musicals!

You also played Maxwell in Channel 4’s “It’s A Sin”, and whilst it wasn’t a musical, it was pioneering in the way that it showcased a cast of queer actors telling such an important story in queer history. Why do you think it’s so vital that queer creatives are involved in the telling of their own stories?

Because we are queer and queer people are very rarely heard and seen and when we get the opportunity to tell a queer story, it should be told by queer people, 100%. The amazing thing about “It’s A Sin” was that everyone on the creative team, as well as the actors, were queer so it was a really safe space. Filming that scene was quite a vulnerable scene to film, but I felt way more comfortable in the space knowing that everyone there was queer and understood me and my journey and understood the vulnerability of being in that situation. 

So it’s about the environment that you’re in as a queer actor, as much as it’s about being able to portray a queer character?

100%, and I also do love that straight people can have the opportunity to play queer characters, there have been some incredible portrayals of queer characters by straight actors, but I think now, because things like “It’s A Sin” are happening, it’s time to actually let the queer actors tell their stories because we’re constantly marginalised and pushed aside or stereotyped, so it’s amazing when we do actually have input into a queer part and we can do it with honesty and integrity. 

In 10 years’ time, what changes would you like to have seen within the musical theatre industry?

I want to hear fresh stories that we haven’t heard. Don’t get me wrong, I love the occasional jukebox musical, or film-to-stage musical, but there is more to be told. I want to see more new writing, especially from queer people and queer artists. I want to see so many more queer stories being told that aren’t just sad stories, let’s celebrate queer people. Obviously “The Inheritance” was insane, one of the most incredible shows I’ve ever seen, and  “Rent”is a classic, adore it! There’s so many more amazing queer shows, but there’s a lot of sadness involved in them, and I think we need more stories that show the fun that queer people have, and how wonderful and diverse the LGBTQIA+ community is. This community has been through so much but we’ve had fun along the way, so let’s show that through art! Less trauma, in 10 years’ time I want to see less trauma in queer theatre and more celebration of the queer community.

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