He’s joined the cast of Mary Poppins as Bert, dazzled in two pantomimes at the London Palladium and gave us a performance worth more than Half A Sixpence in…well Half A Sixpence, but there’s so much more to know about London’s rising star, Charlie Stemp.
His West End debut was in Wicked
Shortly after graduating from Laine Theatre Arts School, Charlie Stemp was cast in his first ever West End production. He bagged an ensemble part in the cast of Wicked, specifically the role of ‘monkey number three’. At just 19 years old, Charlie was the youngest member of the cast.
After spending two years in the Emerald City, and dancing through life in a monkey suit, Charlie went travelling further afield, playing Eddie in the international tour of Mamma Mia!
He performed on Broadway last year
Following a successful run as Arthur Kipps in Half A Sixpence, Broadway unsurprisingly came a-knocking on Charlie’s door. Within a few days of doing his final curtain call at the Noël Coward Theatre, Charlie was flying across to the US of A. Appearing as Barnaby Tucker in Hello, Dolly!, Charlie got to act alongside the iconic Bette Midler and Bernadette Peters. Quite an achievement, especially as it was only his fifth ever professional show!
Charlie went onto win the 2018 Theatre World Award for Outstanding Broadway debut for this performance.
He wasn’t the first choice for Half A Sixpence
Charlie received critical acclaim (and several award nominations) for his portrayal of Arthur Kipps in Half A Sixpence.
But Charlie wasn’t supposed to play this break-through role, in fact he was originally considered to be an understudy for Sid, one of Arthur’s friends. Bryan Dick (Silent Witness, Death in Paradise, Eric & Ernie) was supposed to play Arthur, but ended up having to decline it due to contractual clashes with another show (Hobson’s Choice).
Cue a chance encounter with the show’s choreographer Andrew Wright while Charlie was training, and a follow-up audition, and the rest, as they say, is history!
He was nominated for an Olivier Award 2017
Due to his impressive performance as Arthur Kipps, Charlie was nominated for one of Theatreland’s most prestigious accolades, an Olivier Award.
Charlie was up against some serious contenders too, competing with David Fynn (School Of Rock – The Musical), Tyrone Huntley (Jesus Christ Superstar) and Andy Karl (Groundhog Day), who went on to take home the award.
And it wasn’t just Charlie that was nominated from the show that year either. Emma Williams got a Best Supporting Actress in a Musical nomination for her portrayal of Helen Walsingham, while Ian Bartholomew received a nomination in the Best Supporting Actor in a Musical category for his role as Chitterlow.
Half A Sixpence started off in Chichester
While this musical sensation had West End audiences on their feet every night, Half A Sixpence had its beginnings at the Chichester Festival Theatre.
Following rave reviews, the show’s cast moved into Theatreland for ten months, with three extensions added onto their initial run.
By the time the show closed on 2 September 2017, the cast had flash, bang and walloped over 400 performances.
He’d performed Half A Sixpence before
Before treading Theatreland’s boards as Arthur Kipps, Charlie had previously been a Half A Sixpence production while attending Laine Theatre Arts School. His future choreographer for the West End version even went to see it!
It took Charlie 8 weeks to learn the banjo
It turns out it’s harder to Pick Out A Simple Tune than you may think!
He’s in another production before Mary Poppins
Before Charlie begins sweeping chimneys and dancing on rooftops in Mary Poppins, he’s off on a UK tour in a production of Rough Crossings.
A classic Tom Stoppard comedy, Rough Crossing is about a group of playwrights on a boat, who are trying to rehearse their new play. However, distractions are all around them, including the relationship troubles between their composer and their leading lady.
Charlie will play unorthodox cabin steward Dvornichek, and will star alongside John Partridge, Issy van Randwyck, Matthew Cottle, Rob Ostlere and Simon Dutton.
The show will be like a reunion for Charlie too, as he previously worked with the show’s director, Rachel Kavanaugh, on Half A Sixpence.
You’ll be able to catch Charlie as Bert, alongside Zizi Strallen as Mary, in Mary Poppins at the Prince Edward Theatre from the 23 October 2019.