In Conversation With... Cleve September | Hamilton | Interview

Cleve September is a rising star of the West End. He recently starred in Annie Get Your Gun and In The Heights to much acclaim and has just been cast as Laurens/Philip in the upcoming West End production of Hamilton so it safe to say he's destined for stardom! 

Was being a performer what you always dreamt of or did you have a different career path in mind when you were younger?

I've been singing since I can remember but only started dancing about 6, nearly 7 years ago. Before that I was really into my sports.. I played a lot of basketball and rugby. And I also love 100m and 200m sprints. So I was quite athletic because I got into musical theatre. And the dream back then was to be in the Olympics.

You just finished playing Sonny in In The Heights to much acclaim. It just seems like the funnest show and cast to be a part of. Can you sum up that experience?

Really there are no words to describe how incredible the experience was! In The Heights will always have a place in my heart, as will the cast! They were all such incredible human beings! And they really made my first professional job so amazing.

Did you feel any extra pressure joining so many original Southwark Playhouse cast members when you joined the show at the Kings Cross Theatre? How did you put your own spin on the role?

Not at all because everyone was so welcoming and everyone was so supportive! And I wasn't expected to do the things that Damian can do or did in the show so I could do a bit of creating and figuring out how my body wanted to move in terms of the dance routines. And we just found new things.

You definitely became a fan favourite at Heights; did you expect to gain so many fans in your first role after training?

I didn't know that I was a fan favourite... I had no idea what to expect but I am so thankful for the fans because their love and constant support was amazing throughout the run.

The Kings Cross theatre is super intimate. Are you excited to perform in the Crucible and other larger venues in the future? Do you prefer more intimate or bigger venues?

I'm yet to experience a bigger venue... so I'll let you know!

Annie Get Your Gun is such a Classic musical. Did it get a modern twist in your recent production or did it stick to its original roots?

Nope there was no modern twist to it, we very much stuck to the roots and played it truthfully! The choreography was stunning and it was such an honour and a pleasure working for the team of creatives behind that show!

Can you explain a little about Annie Get Your Gun and how your character Tommy fits into it?

AGYG is about a woman called Annie who is an incredible shooter. She falls in love with a 'swollen headed stiff' named Frank Butler and their story of how they fell in love through the circumstances that they were put through. My character had his own little love story going on with a character called Winnie Tate, who's older sister Dolly, forbids them to be together.

What was your biggest challenge with taking on this role?

I had more than one big challenge haha. The style of Choreo and also singing in a legit style were the two biggest challenges for me as they were both very new to me. However once I managed to kinda wrap my head around it I had the most incredible time! 

If you had a magic wand, which show would you do next? 

Hamilton 👀👀

You have a five minute break during rehearsal, what do you spend that time doing?

If there is food near my I'm eating, or trying to wrap my head around something that may have confused me or I might have done wrong..

You studied at Mountview, what was the best piece of advice your were told during your time there?

To be a sponge and soak everything up that works for me!

It's just been announced you're going to be playing Laurens/Philip in Hamilton; how did you find out you'd got the part, what was your reaction and who did you tell first?

I was out with the cast of Annie Get Your Gun for a drink to end the first week of rehearsals in Sheffield... so it was quite late, and I got a call from my agent. I answered and she asked me if I was alone and I said nope I'm out with the cast. She told me to go somewhere quiet. So I walked outside, she then told me to keep walking and find a place further away so that I was completely out of sight, so I did! And she told me that an offer had come through for John Laurens/Philip Hamilton. And I froze. I completely dropped to the ground and started crying! I was shaking and just couldn't believe it. I was told that I was the first one to find out and that I had to keep it a secret. Only my agent knew at the time so she had had to wait for everyone in the office to go home before she could call me. I had to keep it a secret from everyone!

What are you most nervous about with taking on such a huge role? 

Right now I'm not too nervous about anything... I'm so incredibly excited that I don't really have any space in my mind for any other feelings.. it still doesn't feel real! I guess I could say that I'm almost nervous that I'm going to wake up one day and it was all a big dream. But I'm so thankful to be in the position I am in right now and I can't believe that I get to say to people now that I will be playing John Laurens/Philip Hamilton in the Original West End Cast of Hamilton! It's the most amazing feeling!

Thank you so much to Cleve for taking the time to answer these questions. Make sure you go see Cleve in Hamilton and any other shows he does- you'll love him!

Follow Cleve on twitter here