Robbie White trained at the Cardwell Theatre School and at Laine Theatre Arts college in Epsom. Since graduating he has been working around the world: Dreamworks – How to Train Your Dragon (Arena Spectacular World Tour), Chess (Princess of Wales Theatre, Toronto), We Will Rock You (Original Stuttgart Cast), One Man’s Dreams (Disney Tokyo) and Flashdance (Original West End Cast). He reached the final of BBC1’s So You Think You Can Dance? but was unable to compete in the final show due to injury and therefore finished in 4th place.
Currently Robbie can be seen in Once at the Phoenix Theatre, London.
What’s it like to be a part of Once in the West End?
It has been, and I hope will continue to be, an amazing experience. It’s a beautiful show to watch and I think an even more beautiful to be a part of. It treads a wonderful line between the realistic and the fantastic and combines humour with honesty in a way that is both enjoyable to watch and challenging to perform. Long story short, I love it!
You are covering different roles in the show. What is your favourite role to play and why?
My favourite role to cover is probably Svec, the drummer. He’s one of the most off the wall characters in the piece, with some great lines, funny moments and plenty of challenging music to play. I love all four of my cover roles for different reasons but Svec is the one I’m usually most excited about. I think because that character gives me the most freedom and choice in performance.
Which instruments do you play? Did you take lessons or did you teach yourself?
In the show I’m required to play piano, guitar, bass guitar, ukulele, mandolin, banjo, melodica, harmonica, and drums/cajon. I also play a little bit of cello, although not as well as I’d like to. I taught myself to play, starting with the piano, but in truth a lot of the instruments listed above are similar enough for the basic technique to stretch across a few, for example the piano technique crosses over to the melodica and the guitar technique is similar to that of the mandolin banjo and ukulele.
In 2010 you reached the final of BBC’s So you think you can dance. Do you miss dancing on stage now that you are in Once? Can you see yourself doing a show that focuses on dancing again someday?
I do miss dancing. I hope to be putting it back into practice in a video soon, and I still try to stay in shape. In truth my favourite thing about dancing was always performing my own choreography because I can tailor it to hide my technical flaws, so as much as I miss dancing I couldn’t imagine leaving Once to be a part of a dance ensemble. However if something exciting were to come up in the future I would jump at it!
Beside performing in Once you also write your own music. Tell me a bit about your latest song “Save what can be found” (which I think is fantastic by the way).
Thank you. “Save what can be found” is the first track I’ve ever released on my own and it was a real labour of love. I love songwriting, both for myself and for others, and I love performing my own music. I’ve decided to try to find interesting ways of playing my songs from now on, so for “Save what can be found” I play the drum part with my feet, which took a long time to figure out and nail down, but I love the idea of not only the music being interesting, but also the method of producing the music.
Can we expect more original songs from you soon? Maybe even an album?
You can expect lots more songs from me, and hopefully someday an album! I’d love to get my music out there but it seems to take me a long time to get anything I’m happy with!
You’ve just signed up for another year in Once. However, are there other shows you’d like to be part of in the future? What would be your dream role to play?
My dream role would be Mark in rent. I’ve loved the show ever since I saw it the first time when I was 8 and it’s been my dream role ever since. Either that or Galileo, based solely on my love of Queens music!
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
That’s a tricky one to answer as I never really have had a long-term plan but at the moment I would love to be writing, releasing and performing music for a living in ten years.
Is there anyone (performer, director, songwriter…) you’d love to work with at some point in your life?
I’m certain there are thousands I’d jump at the opportunity to work with, I love collaborating more than anything purely for the fact that there is always something new you can learn/steal. I’d love to have a song writing session with Ingrid Michaelson though. I’ve loved every single song she’s ever released and I think we could make something great.
Last question: Why should people come and see Once?
I think purely because it’s a beautiful piece of theatre, touching story, wonderful music, talented cast. It’s got everything you could want from a musical (minus a big showy dance number) and it’s a really honest method of story telling. You can really lose yourself in it, and that’s what the theatre is all about.
Thank you Robbie for taking time out of your busy schedule for this interview.
Follow Robbie on Twitter @robbiewhite, check him out on Youtube and make sure you watch and listen to “Save what can be found”.