Currently appearing in Colchester Operatic Society’s Hairspray, actor and producer Jonathan Davis has a busy few months up ahead of him, including a role in Shedding Skin and producing Rabbit, both of which run at the Mercury Theatre Studio. For tickets go to or call 01206 573948.

What or who got you interested theatre? Did you take part in any productions at school?

One of my earliest memories was speaking in a school assembly aged five. All my classmates were told to speak up to be heard. Except me, of course. Every word I yelled could be heard at the back of the hall. My fate was sealed, and I quickly progressed to school musicals.

Are or were any members of your immediate family involved in the theatre?

My wife often performs on stage with me. My two daughters are keen dancers and my four-year-old son has just started a local theatre club.

Who is the most inspiring person you’ve worked with and why?

There are so many inspiring people in theatre and education that I have met that I simply couldn’t narrow it down to one. My primary school teacher, Christine, gave me my first part in a school musical and then spent the next three years trying to get me to join a youth theatre group. My life profoundly changed because of her. And I am delighted that, 42 years since we met, I shall be sharing the stage with her and her husband in May for a comedy review we do for Charity in Chelmsford, where I grew up.

What formal training have you done?

I have a BA Honours degree in Performing Arts from Middlesex University. One of the best things about that course was that my name got pulled out of a hat to go on a short two-week exchange with GITIS -The Russian Academy of Theatre Arts in Moscow. It was November 1991 and there was political unrest either side of my visit. We could still see the bullet holes in some of the buildings and there were parts of makeshift barricades left in the streets that had been driven over by tanks a few months previously. We watched every and any production we could. It was such a culture shock to me as a young student but it was thrilling to study there.

Gazette: Jonathan Davis and Olly Medlicott in Hairspray Picture: Sally Parkinson

Do you have any specialist skills – anything from stilt walking to dress-making – which you work into your repertoire?

I did a circus skills module as part of my degree. I spent a year learning how to juggle, stilt walk, tumble and I can even manage a few steps on a tight rope. However, a hasty trip to A&E and two weeks in a neck brace quickly ended a career as an acrobat. But you may see hints of the clown in my musical performances.

Which experience/role do you regard as the highlight of your career to date?

Playing Alfieri in Arthur Miller’s A View From a Bridge last summer with Colchester’s Protocol Theatre. It was a return to the professional stage for me after a long break. I am known for my cameo musical roles in Amateur Theatre, so to get to play the gritty lawyer in a straight play was a welcome challenge.

What has been your most embarrassing moment on stage?

I was introducing The Von Trapps from Austria in a production of the Sound of Music. With a slip of the tongue I pronounced it Australia. The sniggers from the audience haunt me still.

What role would you most like to play and why?

I’d love to play Estragon in Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot. I convinced myself to give up theatre as a 6th Former as I decided it wasn’t cool. Two years later, I saw John Alderton play Estragon at the National Theatre. He was mesmerising. Within a few short weeks I had resigned from my job in a bank and I was studying drama, keen to mirror John’s performance.

Ever corpsed on stage? What happened?

I was in a production of Annie, the musical. There was a row of very young girls high up on a balcony playing the orphans. One poor girl lost her footing and fell down a staircase. When she hit the stage with a thump, the poor girl lay there dazed, but unhurt. The audience started giggling and that was it, I was off. I had just finished all my lines and I turned away trying desperately not to catch the eye of my fellow actors.

Any big plans for the future?

After Wilbur in Hairspray, I ‘m playing Trevor in Paul T Davies’s Shedding Skin for Stagewrite at The Mercury Studio from February 22 to 24. Then I ‘m Producing Nina Raine’s Rabbit for Protocol Theatre also at The Mercury Studio from March 23 to 24. Then it’s on to reading as many plays as I can so we can plan the next few productions for Protocol Theatre.