Between musicals, solo albums, compilations and singles, the Dublin tenor’s vocals have been recorded on over 60 record titles and counting. In 1985, Wilkinson originated the role of Jean Valjean in The Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of Les Misérables in London’s West End. In 1987, the show then opened on Broadway, accompanied by Wilkinson’s original Valjean, where it garnered 12 Tony Award nominations and eight wins. In 1989, he relocated his family to Toronto to take on the title role in the new Canadian production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera at the Pantages Theatre (now Canon Theatre) playing the role for four and a half years in over 1,650 performances for 3.5 million theatregoers.
Travelling the world, Wilkinson returns to Toronto and the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts with his new release and two night Broadway and Beyond concert, August 12 and 13.
TheSceneinTO’s guest columnist spoke with Wilkinson about his early days, his music and his fame.
Q. How did you first get into musical theatre?
A. Playing Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar in 1973 in Dublin and then in the West End London. I was the second Judas in the original production and played him for 4 years in total.
Q. You stared as 2 of the most iconic stage characters Jean Valjean and Phantom. What were those experiences like?
A. I consider myself to be very fortunate to have had the opportunity to be the first person to sing the music of both of those shows and to have had Bring Him Home from Les Miserables written for me. The fact that both musicals were a huge success was also a bonus. How lucky can you get?
Q. How hard is it to separate Colm Wilkinson the singer, from Colm Wilkinson the Broadway star?
A. I am married to a wonderful woman and have four great children. There are no stars in our home. I concentrate on telling the story and making the best music I can and also trying to enjoy the journey. It’s great to be able to do what you are passionate about, but it is work just the same.
Q. You’re an inspiration to others, but who inspires you?
A. Strangely enough not all my inspiration comes from music. My wife and my family are my main inspiration.
Q. What have been your favourite stage roles apart from Les Miserables and Phantom?
A. [Playing] Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar.
Q. You’ve travelled extensively with your concerts, what does coming back to Toronto mean for you?
A. It is a great place to live and to rear a family and outside Ireland it is our second home.
Q. You’ve collaborated and worked with many other artists. Who has been your favourite?
A. My son Aaron. He’s just great to share a stage with.
Q. What was it like covering the Cat Stevens song Father and Son, with your son Aaron?
A. It was Aaron’s idea for both of us to cover the song and I have to say it was unique. I don’t think there is another version of the song out there by an actual father and son.
Q. Do you have a favourite song on this CD or one you’ve written that really stands out for you?
A. I really love Father and Son but I wrote the song I Cannot Stay about relationships that slowly fall apart through lack of understanding and communication on both sides. People have to know that you care for them and you have to remind them by telling them.
Q. After this concert tour would you like to go back to the stage or start on another album?
A. There is always concert and theatre work to be done but I want to get into the studio soon to record another album.
To order tickets to this limited engagement on August 12th and 13th contact DANCAP PRODUCTIONS INC. at www.DancapTickets.com or by calling 416.644.3665 or toll-free at 1.866.950.7469
Broadway and Beyond: the Concert Songs is on sale at http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/ColmWilkinson
Official Colm Wilkinson site, http://www.colmwilkinson.com/