As we sat down with Charlie – who made a discreet late arrival wiping crumbs of pastry from his mouth – we knew he wasn’t the stereotypical musical theatre diva you might have expected. Not so long ago Charlie was graduating from Laine Theatre Arts himself, but since then his likeable character (and abundance of talent) have landed him roles in the West End’s Wicked and Half a Sixpence, as well as Broadway’s Hello, Dolly!
For now, he’s back where it all began in Epsom, returning to inspire the graduating class of twenty-nineteen before they leave Epsom to find their own theatre fame. Charlie described his three years at Laine Theatre Arts as the best three years of his life, claiming “it made me”. Not only was it where he learned everything there is to know about dancing, singing and acting, but it also taught him some invaluable ‘people-skills’, which he appears to value more than all that jazz. He went from socially awkward introvert (something we simply can’t imagine), to feeling comfortable in himself and his performing abilities.
But what advice will he be sharing with the soon-to-be graduates? Keeping it short and sweet, “be happy” he smiles. Charlie encourages them to ignore the pressure of finding a job and securing a high salary – openly admitting that they won’t find that anytime soon in the theatre industry – and instead to prioritise happiness.
As the curtains close on our chat with Charlie, we just had to ask him about his favourite Epsom haunt; and where else would the all singing, all dancing Charlie Stemp choose, than the infamous The Boogie Lounge. If you can’t find him there, he’ll probably be onstage at the Prince Edward Theatre, rehearsing for his new role of Bert in Mary Poppins, opening later this year.