Interview With…Neil Stewart

The actor chatted to us about starring in NHS the Musical at the Theatre Royal Plymouth.

(c)Steve Tanner

Hi Neil, could you explain more about what we can expect from NHS the Musical? It’s not really quite like anything I’ve worked on before: I suppose Oh, What Lovely War is the closest comparison I can think of. The political and historical story of the NHS done as a sort of vaudeville show on acid. It’s funny and absurd and sincere all at once, I hope.

How does it feel to be part of this production? To be frank, it’s a bit overwhelming. There are seven of us on stage – plus a seven-piece band playing dozens of characters, singing and dancing and spouting a lot of very complicated medical terminology in front of an extraordinary set that… Well, you’ll have to come and see
it to find out.

What was it about the musical that made you want to be involved? It’s good to be part of a (hopefully) funny, uplifting piece of theatre that’s actually about something important and meaningful for our country.

How does it feel to be celebrating the work of the NHS in this way? The NHS is such a part of all our lives. It’s easy to take it for granted  but it was created just 73 years ago and it’s not automatically always going to be there. On the other hand it’s phenomenally expensive to run and has grown way beyond what its founders could ever have imagined. Yes, we are celebrating the NHS in this play and that makes me happy but there’s a bit more to it than that.

How have you found working on the production so far? This is the first job since covid for almost everyone involved and I think that has had an effect. I think we may feel a greater pressure to succeed than usual.

How would you describe NHS the musical? I think I’ll stick with vaudeville on acid.

By Emma Clarendon

NHS the Musical will play at the Plymouth Theatre Royal from the 17th to the 25th September.

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