“It’s easily the most fun I’ve had in
a show, ever.”
On a very rainy day in May we dashed through London’s West End to the Adelphi Theatre where David Hunter is currently playing Dr Pomatter in Waitress. We had seen the show the day before and were still feeling a little emotional from it. As David welcomed us into his dressing room, we were greeted with the rather delicious smell of the lunch he’d just made in his little microwave (it was sweet potato, which he tells us he eats a lot of. David explained he’s on a very strict diet to protect his voice). As we settled down on the sofa we got to talking about this magnificent theatre.
D: I was in Kinky Boots for two years in the Adelphi Theatre, I’m now in Waitress in the Adelphi Theatre, I did One Man, Two Guvnors in… the Adelphi Theatre!
M: So it’s like home.
D: It is like home! Once fortunately was in the Phoenix Theatre so I got a little bit of a tour of the West End. But in that time since One Man, Two Guvnors about eight years ago, the crew backstage at the Adelphi has remained the same so it did feel like coming home. I felt very lucky on that first day of Waitress coming into the theatre because I think that’s quite rare, really, for someone to keep coming back to the same theatre again and again. And actually, I finished Kinky Boots about six months prior to Waitress so it was really recent that I’d left, so it just felt like I’d had a nice break then came home - slippers by the door!
M: And how long have you been doing Waitress?
D: We started rehearsals in January.
M: So it’s still pretty fresh.
D: Yeah it is, but it feels like we’ve been here a nice long time because we do eight shows a week it’s sort of merged into a long stream of shows so that you feel like, gosh, we’ve been doing this so many times. You put your costume on and think, have I ever not been in this costume! And did I go home last night? But it’s glorious. It’s easily the most fun I’ve had in a show, ever. The cast are just so kind and supportive and lovely to one another. The show is so much fun, and I have a lovely fun role; I get to sing some massive belting songs and some sweet lighter songs. And I get to throw myself around the stage a bit and do a bit of slapstick – it’s great! Really, really fun.
M: Waitress is quite emotional. I had some watery eyes. But it has that classic happy undertone all the way through - even through the dark issues.
D: Well, that’s the funny thing when advertising the show. I think it’s quite tricky. If you imagine most musicals are advertised on posters on the tube with that kind of snapshot of a show. This is a show about a woman trying to survive domestic abuse, but it’s a comedy. How do you marry those two things on a poster? I mean, you do kind of want to let people know that this has got a serious message and some real dark undertones. We have a fantastic performance from our leading lady, Kat McPhee and then Pete Hannah who plays her abusive husband really commits to that abusiveness and is fantastic, but whenever I’m onstage it’s very jovial and whenever Jack McBrayer is onstage it’s laugh-out-loud funny.
M: That’s another time I was crying – with laughter!
D: I do! I found a few weeks in that I was giggling in my scenes and it as because it was immediately after Jack’s scene and I was laughing so hard I was still kind of there! I had to like calm myself down! But I’m crying with laughter and giggling in some scenes and it’s a show about domestic abuse. I think it’s incredibly tricky to put that across to people without a conversation like this where you can say, this is what it is.
M: Do you get people writing in who have been through it?
D: Yeah, we do. Very occasionally. We have these guest checks because it’s set in a diner, we have these little checks out front of house, and people can write their reviews about the show, what they liked and send messages to the cast. We read a few of the out at warm up which is lovely and yeah, a few of them will write that this gave them the courage to leave an abusive relationship and realise there were other options. I think that’s one of the really interesting things. One review we got, from a major paper actually, said the husband was so nasty it made you wonder why she didn’t leave him. Quite frankly I was like, this is ludicrous. It’s a complete misunderstanding of domestic abuse and for how hard it is for people to shake off those shackles; how complicated that is. It’s not like, ‘he’s mean, why didn’t she leave?’ Well, because it’s incredible complicated. And I think it is this complicated show which is why I love it. It’s a messy show. I play a part that’s really likeable and a really nice bloke who has an affair. People talk to me about how they struggle with that and go, ‘I really like him, but he’s had an affair; he’s a baddy!’ We’re so used to these stereotype characters – he’s the baddy, he’s the goody. That’s what we like. But good guys do… I’m not even going to say bad things… make bad decisions at points or do things they regret. Or maybe in that moment the affair was the right decision for him because he maybe wasn’t in the relationship that he was meant to be in. Maybe it was messy. But life is a bit messy, isn’t it? We’ve all been messy in life, and thought I regret that. But that’s fine, you can still be a good guy. You don’t do things wrong and think, oh I’m a baddy now. That’s interesting. I’ll have to update my CV!
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This episode of Mainly Music is sponsored by Chet Rock - style for men with an alternative attitude. Check them out online www.chetrock.com. You can also follow them on Instagram @chetrockclothing.