Ben Jennings is currently playing Joey Pesci in the smash hit Jersey Boys. He is covering the lead role of Frankie Valli and has been playing the part to rave reviews on numerous occasions. Before joining the cast of Jersey Boys he appeared in Mamma Mia at the Prince of Wales Theatre. His other theatre credits include Kipper in Oliver (London Palladium), Gavroche in Les Miserables (Palace Theatre), Hair (European Tour), Beauty and the Beast (Germany) and Aladdin (Worthing) to name just a few.
Ben trained with a scholarship to the Urdang Academy of Ballet and Performing Arts. During his training he appeared in various dance videos and commercials.
What was the first role you ever played and how old were you?
The first role I ever played was actually my first professional job. I was 9 years old and had literally had one singing lesson. That same week the singing teacher asked me whether I would like to join an audition at the Royal Opera House in London. I went along and got the part of a boy cupid in an opera called “Arianna” which is an old greek myth story.
Who was your inspiration when you were younger?
My main inspiration from a young age has to be Michael Jackson. My mum brought me “Thriller” when I was 3 years old as it was released as its own separate video being a short 15 mins long. Singing wise I was brought up on 60’s rock’n’roll music so I’ve always listened to artists such as the Everly Brothers, Roy Orbison, Eddie Cochrane etc.
Out of all parts you’ve played so far which one has been your favourite and why?
From all the parts I have played so far the part I cover at present has to be my favourite. Frankie Valli is such a diverse and challenging role for me that there is always something new to explore. So much back story and detail to get across to the audience not to mention every hit song that you want to give justice to, never a dull moment.
Who would you love to work with?
I would love to move into some film work if possible and work with some great actors. Al Pacino would be nice, haha. I saw him on Broadway last year in a play called “Glengarry Glen Ross” and he was amazing!
If you had not become a performer what profession would you have chosen?
At school I was always into English, History and Art. I wanted to study architecture but the option was not there but I love buildings and craft subjects so a career in architecture I think would have been my next path.
What’s your dream role?
My dream role… well, as far as musicals go I get to play my dream role! Frankie Valli, you can’t get much better than that in my opinion. For film I would like to play something deep. I’d like to explore something opposite to myself, maybe a character with special needs or maybe even a villain as those characters always come with the most scope.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years time?
Who knows, hahaha. We never know where we will be next year let alone in 10 and that’s sometimes why we love this industry as it brings so many surprises and can be so varied. I would like to be able to look back and say I have played some good roles and had many more experiences, maybe got to travel with my work some more.
What are your pet peeves?
Seeing people in roles they were never right for in the first place. It has become all to familiar now for “celebrities” to be cast in shows for the sake of their 5 mins of fame rather than go with a professional who has spent their life training and working hard at their art. It is very rare that you see talent cast over profile and so the standard of any show, film or TV program suffers dramatically . It’s a sad thing but I guess this is a business after all.
What music do you listen to? And what was the last album you bought?
The last album I bought was Rascal Flatts, Changed. I try and listen to loads of different types of music, anything that’s honest and good in its own right, preferably not manufactured… real music!
If there was a movie about your life, who should play you? And it can’t be yourself!
Not entirely sure how interesting this would be to anyone but I’d certainly like someone who is down to earth. I will pretty much watch anything with Leonardo DiCaprio in as you can always see that he chooses the films HE wants to do and not just for the mass. He completely puts himself into each character he chooses. I like the idea of the actor becoming someone else and not just themselves reading the lines they were given.
Thank you Ben for taking the time to do this interview!
You can see Ben in Jersey Boys at the Prince Edwards Theatre. For more info and to book tickets go to http://www.jerseyboyslondon.com/.
Follow Ben on Twitter @Ben_Ejennings