As critics file their reviews of McQueen’s West End transfer, the show’s star, Stephen Wight, has revealed the only opinions he was concerned about were those of designer Alexander McQueen’s family.
Speaking to Official London Theatre following his press night performance, he said meeting McQueen’s relatives had been “an incredibly profound experience,” adding, “They couldn’t have been more supportive. That was all I ever cared about, their blessing for my portrayal of their uncle, their brother.”
Wight plays the titular designer in James Phillips’ play that was first seen at the St James Theatre earlier this year. The recipient of the Evening Standard Outstanding Newcomer Theatre Award in 2007 could well be in the awards shakedown this year following a central performance that has had those who knew McQueen proclaiming his portrayal as the real deal.
“I thought I knew the gravity of the situation, of taking on the role,” Wight said at last night’s party at the Café Royal, “but when I went to the V&A [to Savage Beauty, the exhibition of McQueen’s creations] and saw his clothes, I took a sharp intake of breath and thought ‘Oh my Lord, what have I done.’”
Despite that daunting prospect, Wight says “It’s not difficult to focus the mind when you realise you have a great weight of responsibility to portray Lee McQueen.”
The play, which features dancers portraying the memories and creations lurking in the recesses of his mind, follows an imagined night in which the designer finds a dress-obsessed intruder in his home. Instead of calling the police, he takes her under his wing on an enlightening tour of London and his imagination.
The production has been altered since its St James Theatre premiere with scenes rewritten, an interval added and a new leading lady in Carly Bawden, who, Wight says, is “doing an amazing job” and enabled the cast to “rediscover the play afresh”.
“I hope when people see this show,” Wight concludes, “they want to learn more about Lee McQueen. He was a man that was truly blessed with genius. We shouldn’t forget his legacy.”