We caught up with the award-winning performer, Alex Cardall, ahead of his run in the adaptation of children’s classic Winnie the Pooh
Actor, singer, drummer and writer Alex Cardall has added puppetry to his CV for Disney’s gorgeous stage adaptation of Winnie the Pooh which is coming to the Hippodrome later this month following a record-breaking premiere in New York. Theatre aimed at younger audiences might seem like an easy gig, but not so. It has a unique pressure says Alex: “It might be the kids’ first time in a theatre particularly given the backdrop of the pandemic, so it feels special and important.”
Feedback from audiences has been overwhelmingly positive and Alex is looking forward to bringing the show to his hometown. The production features life-sized puppetry of A A Milne’s classic characters set in the Hundred Acre Wood and includes the Sherman Brothers’ Grammy award-winning music. Alex says being part of it is ‘a real joy’.
Alex’s previous work includes playing Daniel in BFI and Bueno Film’s Cha Cha Club, developing and starring in Metta Theatre’s eco-rock musical, Housefire and performing in the Australian Shakespeare Company’s production of Wind in the Willows. Most recently, Alex played Andy Williams in The Osmonds musical – a part that took him right back to his childhood home listening to and playing music with his dad. Alex’s father died in 2017 so he never got to see his son perform as Andy Williams.
His father was a trumpeter with the Midland Youth Jazz Orchestra and Alex was surrounded by what his dad called ‘proper music’ at home – big band mainly, so lots of Frank Sinatra and Andy Williams as well as Level 42 and Gloria Estefan. Alex would bash along on the pots and pans in the kitchen before taking up actual drumming and following in his father’s footsteps joining the Midland Youth Jazz Orchestra, aged 15. He toured with the orchestra as a drummer and vocalist for three years, giving him the opportunity to perform to packed out concert halls and world class jazz festivals.
Always into music and drama at school, Alex then attended Birmingham Ormiston Academy in the sixth form, followed by studying musical theatre at ArtsEd in London where he graduated with first class honours and won the Rising Star award. He also won the Stephen Sondheim Society Performer of the Year in 2018.
During the pandemic, Alex came home to stay with his mum in Knowle. From there he took part in an online series with Pitlochry Festival Theatre creating videos and initiatives as well as working as a drum and singing teacher with London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA) and delivering newspapers which inspired him to write a Victoria Wood-style song called Delivering Papers With My Mum which Alex is developing into a full scale production.
The song is largely about his experience during the pandemic and the weird uncertainty of that time and ultimately reconnecting with his mum. Alex says: “It was nice and bloody awful at the same time. It’s about self-reflection and coming to the conclusion that we’re doing alright. There’s a guilt involved with having a positive outcome from the pandemic as so many other people had a really tough time.”
Alex’s next step is to come back to Brum and workshop the play, check it works, fine tune it and secure funding, plus he’d love to get into film and TV, too.