John Owen-Jones takes the Actor Hub Musical Theatre Challenge

John Owen-Jones is an award-winning and record-breaking West End and Broadway actor & singer – probably best known for his performances as Jean Valjean in Les Miserables and as The Phantom in The Phantom of the Opera.
After training at London’s Central School of Speech and Drama, John, at the age of twenty six, became the youngest actor ever to play the role of Jean Valjean in the West End production of Les Miserables. He is one of a handful of actors to have played the role of Valjean both in the West End and on Broadway and is in fact the only British actor to do so.
John originally played the role of The Phantom in The Phantom of the Opera between 2001 and 2004 in the West End.
After reinterpreting the role of Valjean on the 25th Anniversary tour of Les Miserables in 2010, John was asked to reinterpret the role of The Phantom in the brand new production of The Phantom of the Opera for it’s 25th anniversary UK tour in 2012.
He is in the unique position of being the only actor to have the opportunity to reinvent Valjean and The Phantom – two of the greatest roles in musical theatre history.
John has recorded four solo albums. The independently released Hallelujah (2006) and on the Sain label John Owen-Jones (2009) and Unmasked (2011). His latest album Rise is released in March 2015
John Owen-Jones performing ‘Rise like a Phoenix’ for his third album – RISE
‘RISE’ features twelve new tracks reflecting John’s lifelong love for music and displays the musical influences that have helped shape his unique and exciting voice. Staying true to the West End and Broadway star’s theatrical roots, the album also broadens out to the worlds of gospel, soul, classic rock and even Eurovision! “I loved making this album, I like to think that it’s not just my voice you hear but my personality too. It’s the record I’ve always wanted to make”

John Owen-Jones – The Musical Theatre Challenge

A song from the first musical you saw/heard
Anthem from Chess
I saw the last matinee of the show’s original West End run. I sing the song a lot in concert and have recorded it (on my first album ‘John Owen-Jones’) so I must love it!
The song resonates with me as it is about leaving the country you love to be able to do the job you love.
Moving from Wales to study acting at Central School of Speech and Drama was a big thing for me but it was necessary to move to London as that’s where most of the acting work was.
The video above is John singing Anthem in Welsh
A song from your latest musical obsession
I tend not to listen to musicals very often if I’m honest.
It’s not that I don’t enjoy them but listening to musicals is too much like work really and I like to use music as an escape.and after a show to “clean my mental hard drive” as it were.
I tend to listen to musicals for research for live shows and recordings and auditions.
I prefer to listen to rock most of the time. In fact I listen to very loud heavy metal in my dressing room before and after a show!
A song demonstrating how underrated you think a musical is
I think that No Choir of Angels from The Hired Man is a genius piece of musical theatre writing.
No chorus or hook, just a beautiful melody and lyrics that capture the characters’ thoughts perfectly. It sounds lovely and moves the story forward like all great musical theatre songs should. A great example of the writer creating something for a specific moment in the story that only really works in the context of the piece and couldn’t come anywhere else in the show.
Whilst the musical has it’s faults I think it is highly underrated and under-performed.
A song which can make you cry
I have kids so Children will Listen from Into the Woods
Especially in the context of the show.
A song which makes you laugh
Pretty much anything from the musical Which Witch
I saw that show about 10 times during it’s all too brief West End run.
I loved it – possibly for the wrong reasons.
I mean.
The musical you’d kill to be in
Into the Woods again, Sunday in the Park with George or The Hired Man
A song sung by your favourite female character in a musical
Send in the Clowns. A song that’s far greater than the sum of its parts.
I had the pleasure of working on A Little Night Music at the National Theatre in 1995 (as a liebeslieder) and got to watch the sublime Judi Dench rehearse this close up.
She eventually won an Olivier award for her role and her much talked about performance of this song was in my opinion even better in the rehearsal room than in performance. She’s that good.
A song sung by your favourite male character in a musical
It has to be Bring Him Home in Les Miserables
It’s pretty much perfect I think and I never get bored of singing it.. And it works amazingly well out of the context of the show – luckily for my concert career!
A song from the musical you know all – or nearly all – the lines to
My brain is full of examples but I’d choose Dog Eat Dog from Les Miserables
I used to lay on the floor “unconscious” during this scene as Thenardier sang this song every night and know the words by a process of osmosis.
Your guilty pleasure musical
See question 5!
The musical which made the most impact on you
Into the Woods
I played the Prince in a production of it in drama school and was amazed to see how densely layered the piece is. It’s a great work of art I think.
It made me realise that musicals can be just as good if not better than plays.
A song you could listen to all day.
I can’t choose one – I try to listen to different artistes every day
A song by your favourite musical composer
Later by Stephen Sondheim.
I had to understudy the role at The National Theatre and learn the cello for this song.
It was exceptionally difficult and I’m thankful I never went on as Henrik as my cello playing was awful.
Made me really appreciate the writing though.
The character you’d kill to play
The Baker in Into the Woods or George in Sunday in the Park with George or John in The Hired Man or Don Quixote in The Man of La Mancha
The character you’d kill to play – if you were the opposite sex
Fantine in Les Miserables
One great song and then she dies. That’s a nice night’s work!
A song which inspires you
Always Look on the Bright Side of Life
The musical you’ve seen over and over
Well that has to be either Les Miz or Phantom of course but the other musical I’ve seen the most is Which Witch – Not sure what that says about me…
The character in a musical you can most relate to
Pippin from er.. Pippin
I saw the Broadway production a year or two back. I’d never seen the show before and thought it was absolutely outstanding – one of the best things I’d ever seen.
I’d worked with Patina Miller on a Sister Act workshop in London and thought she would go far but had no idea how amazing she was until Pippin.
I relate to Pippin as he searches endlessly for something to fulfil his role in the world before finally realising that the answer is closer to home than one might originally think.
A song from your favourite musical
Everything from Into the Woods
Your favourite song NOT from a musical
That’s a difficult question to answer as I have a huge record collection but I’ll go with The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Iron Maiden as it’s the first one that popped into my head.
I love the theatricality of Maiden and the fact that no-one else really sounds like them.
Big thanks to John Owen-Jones for taking the Actor Hub Musical Theatre Challenge.
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