Andy Coxon & Gabriela Garcia: Desert Island Sondheim

Andy Coxon and Gabriela Garcia are currently wowing audiences as Tony and Maria in West Side Story at Manchester's Royal Exchange Theatre. This new revival is directed by the Royal Exchange's Artistic Director Sarah Frankcom, is MD'd by Mark Aspinall, and features electrifying new choreography by Aletta Collins and a score re-orchestrated by Jason Carr.

Here, the two leads share their thoughts on their Desert Island Sondheim choices.

Andy

A 2010 Mountview graduate, Coxon's other credits include Berger in Hair at The Vaults and Mitch in Yank! at the Charing Cross Theatre, both for Aria Entertainment; Jamie in Last Five Years in Frankfurt; and Montparnasse/Cover Marius in Les Miserables at the Queens.

1. What are your three favourite Sondheim songs and why?

"Johanna" (Sweeney Todd)

Anything from Sweeney – I love ALL OF IT – but probably [Anthony's] "Johanna" because it’s beautiful and I want to play Anthony. He’s got a lot of similar qualities to Tony.

"Being Alive" (Company)

It’s almost a song for millennials or anyone at a crossroads by bringing that life-searching, lost and almost desperate for happiness feeling. A lot to play in a short song – and a dream for an actor.

"Someone Is Waiting" (Company)

Purely because it’s the first MT song I learnt with my first ever singing teacher. And from that moment I learnt the intricacies of Sondheim’s work and knew every detail he puts in is for a reason. We as actors have to understand why.

2. What is your favourite Sondheim song to perform and why?

"Maria" (West Side Story)

At the minute, it's "Maria" but its slowly being pipped by "Something’s Coming". It’s getting more exciting to perform as our run goes on. I almost find something new every night... Something in the song makes it fresh every time and you can’t help but search for "something" everyone you sing it.

3. What Sondheim role would you most like to play and why?

Sweeney Todd. Every time I see a different production of Sweeney, I see a new version of the character. I’d LOVE to get under his skin and create the life of what has made him the way he is.

Or Maria in West Side Story – her last speech is what dreams are made of for an actor!

4. What Sondheim lyric do you carry with you in your life?

“Someday, somewhere, we’ll find a new way of living... We’ll find a way of forgiving.” ["Somewhere", West Side Story]

The way the world is currently, this line brings me a constant state of hope.

5. What has Sondheim brought to your life and career, so far?

Before I graduated, I performed at the Albert Hall for Stephen’s 80th Birthday celebration with other winners of the BBC Performing Arts Fund, and that day opened my world properly to his work and the way his songs give actors the ability to emote and connect in a very special way. I sat behind Judi Dench on the stage singing "Send In The Clowns" at the dress rehearsal and I was blown away. A moment I’ll never forget. Now, 10 years later, I’m playing Tony in a new production and I’m able to emote and connect the way I’ve always wanted as an actor.