Ahead of competing in this weekends final for ITV’s ‘I Have A Dream’, I caught up with frontrunner Tobias Turley. Competing for the role of Sky in Mamma Mia in the west end, I spoke to Tobias about why he wanted this role and if being televised affected his decision to go for it;
“Sky is one of those roles I’ve always loved. When I was at GSA (Guildford School of Acting), in my first year there were two guys in the third year who I got along with really well. I looked up to them a lot, and one of them went on to play Sky and the other covered the role!
It was a risk doing a tv show audition process, but I love a risk and a challenge! It’s such an open platform for ridicule or praise, so it's quite a daunting thing. But I thought I’d be silly not to. I had nothing lined up for when I finished Heather’s, so it was just another audition in my eyes at that point. When things started to get more real, I did have a conversation with myself to make sure I was in the right mindset… and I was!”
I went on to speak to Tobias about the ridicule element, with much reported online recently about this in particular from west end talent. Speaking of his own experiences so far;
“I’ve not noticed any of this luckily. Everything on my instagram has been nothing but lovely, so I’m very grateful for that. I must admit that I read some of the live tweets though, which is fun. I’m light hearted, and can have a chuckle at the tweets whilst the show is on."
The television format of casting for musical theatre isn’t new, although it hasn’t been done for many years. It has not only launched carriers of the winners, but also the other contestants. As well as ultimate winner Jodie Prenger, 2008’s BBC hit show ‘I’d Do Anything’ capitulated the careers of west end royalty Rachel Tucker, Jessie Buckley and ‘I Have A Dream’ judge Samantha Barks. Speaking about the format;
“I remember watching the Joseph show with my mum as a kid. I remember going to see Lee Mead after the show and the fact this was similar so thought this would be great. It’s an amazing thing, it’s a scary thing but its a really positive thing”
With a longer televised audition process, the contestants inevitably have opportunity to make friends along the process. This is an interesting dynamic when these friends can become the barrier between getting a job or not. Tobias explained about this element and the overall process itself;
“I've made 13 brilliant friends. You don’t want to see people leave, but you understand they have to. Im a very competitive person so I wanted to get as far ask can, so seeing people leave was very bittersweet. Darcy is one of my best friends so seeing him leave was really tough. However inside you know you are that one step closer.
It feels very different than other audition processes. Even the audition to get on the show was very different! You’re not just auditioning for the show, you’re also auditioning for the TV side of things. When we were over there it felt more like a bootcamp experience. Obviously it still comes to moments of performing in front of a panel, but the differences made the show what it is.”
The panel for the show is an interesting one, with a mixture of those who have trodden the boards (Amber Riley and Samantha Barks) and those who haven’t but bring a different element of performance to judge from (Jessie Ware and Alan Carr). I asked if there was any particular judge Tobias wanted to impress most;
“I really wanted to impress Alan Carr. Before meeting him, I thought he would want to earn his way on to the panel to begin with, not being from our industry directly. There’s so much guidance he can give with his stand up experience and everything else he’s done, so no matter what he could give us great feedback.”
Viewers have been treated to performances of both Abba, and non-Abba songs on the show. From performing ‘SOS’ as the first thing he did when he got there, Tobias now rates it as one of his favourite Abba songs, remembering such fond memories. Otherwise he loves ‘Does Your Mother Know’, which we agreed was an absolute banger!
Although auditioning for this role, we spoke about his dream roles;
“I call them the ‘Charlie Stemp role, those classical Jazz musicals. Crazy For You, Half A Sixpence, roles like that really interest me. I believe I’m quite a nice dancer. I would love to do something like that, as the dancing in those shows is just so beautiful. But then again on the other side I’d love to play Shakespeare in Something Rotten. Also, I would love to play Sweeney Todd at some point. My dad did that when he was younger, so that would be quite a cool full circle moment. I don’t want to sit complacent doing roles that might be easy. I want to be challenged, I want to learn, I want to get better and those roles would help that.”
Talking more about dancing, Tobias continued;
“My parents both performed when I was younger, so I used to go along with them rather them getting a babysitter. So eventually I would get involved. I got hooked and around the age of 14/15 as I got more into dance more after being in cats, having dance lessons quite heavily after that point.”
He has however set his sights further than the stage alone, explaining;
“I’m a bit greedy when it comes to our industry, I want to do it all! Whether that’s plays, tv or film. I’m a massive film buff, which is one of my passions outside of performing. I’m unto 350 movies this year. I’m trying to watch one a day for 2023, but I’m ahead of schedule!’
Like his thousands of followers on social media who have loved watching him each week, I have no doubt that he will achieve all he wants and more.
Tobias Turley is represented by BBA Management and in competing in the live final of 'I Have A Dream' at the Novello Theatre this Sunday (09/12/2023) . For those not lucky enough to have have seat in the stalls, you can catch this from your sofa at 18:30 on ITV1.