After four years of touring and filming, West End and TV star Ben Richards is back in his home town for a one-night only performance.
Singing his favourite songs from the Rat Pack to modern day classics, Ben returns to Bognor’s Regis Centre on Thursday, September 14 at 7.30pm – a venue which will always be close to his heart.
It was where Ben cut his teeth in the business.
“I was Bognor born and bred,” says Ben. “I live in Hertfordshire. But I went to place called Felpham Art of Dance which then became Art of Dance and Fitness which is now the big dance school.”
At first he was at the back, just watching. But the teacher asked his parents if he would like to join in.
“There were not that many boy dancers at the time. There was Wayne Sleep on television, but there weren’t the boy bands then, and I think my dad was a bit cautious. But I found I had an aptitude for it.”
Ben started off with tap before expanding into other dance forms, and it wasn’t long before he was dancing five days a week.
“I went to performing arts college and came on board with the singing and a bit with the acting and then studied acting and became a triple threat, and then I pursued a career in musical theatre and also in TV and film. I have been very blessed to be able to have that balance.”
For his return to Bognor, Ben is proposing a first half which celebrates his own particular favourite style, the songs of the Rat Pack era. The second half encompasses modern classics, Billy Joel, The Commodores etc: “There is even a lovely version of Diamonds by Rihanna.
“It is all about the songs that I love to sing and songs that people will enjoy listening to.”
Adding to the pleasure is the fact that he will be singing them at the Regis Centre, a place for which he retains huge affection.
“I think it is hugely important to have a local theatre. I know we have got the CFT, but it is so important for Bognor to have its own theatre. It is the cultural hub of the town, the centrepiece of the town in some ways.
“It gave me the opportunities. I wouldn’t have had those opportunities to perform without it. That was where I cut my teeth in dance, at the Regis Centre. I performed there with the dance school. We did a show there every couple of years, and that’s how you learn whether you really want to be on the stage, under the spotlight. Some people discover they don’t; some people discover they definitely do. Fortunately, I found I was among the latter!”
Ben began his television career with guest roles in various British serials and in 2004 joined the regular cast of ITV drama Footballers’ Wives. He then went on to secure roles in Holby City and The Bill and in 2015, joined the cast of Channel 4’s Hollyoaks.
He has also enjoyed an extensive career in musical theatre with a range of leading roles in London’s West End and on tour including starring opposite Don Johnson in Guys and Dolls, playing Tony Manero in Saturday Night Fever at the London Palladium and most recently starring in The Bodyguard opposite Beverley Knight at The Dominion Theatre, London.
“I loved The Bodyguard, but it was unusual for me as it was a musical and I wasn’t singing in it. But I really enjoyed doing it. I am always wanting to try different things so that I am not just repeating myself. I want to be doing things I haven’t done before.”
Tickets available on alexandratheatre.co.uk.
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