From his vantage point in the Heathrow control tower, he’s responsible for the safe movement of hundreds of aircraft as they take off and land at one of the world’s busiest airports. But the pressure of Paul Morris’s day job as an air traffic controller doesn’t compare to the challenge that awaits him on the stage of Basingstoke’s Haymarket Theatre.
“I’m wearing 3 inch gold platform shoes and a Saturday Night Fever-style purple and gold suit, while singing and dancing a big camp production number,” explains Paul. “The last time I performed on stage was in a panto back home in Liverpool when I was 10. And I’ve never had to learn a dance number before!”
But 34-year-old Paul has one big advantage as he prepares for his role as King Herod in BATS’ forthcoming production of the Tim Rice/Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Jesus Christ Superstar.
“My wife Julie is the dance captain, so she’s giving me some one-on-one tuition,” he smiles. “On the way home from rehearsals she’s often telling me where I went wrong and what I need to improve!”
BATS audiences may remember Julie as the lead, Reno Sweeney, in their 2012 musical “Anything Goes”. “I was operating the lighting for that show,” says Paul. This time round the roles are reversed. Julie is pregnant with the couple’s first child so won’t be on stage for JCS. “So she’s doing the lighting instead – I’m relying on her to make me look good!”
Paul may feel trepidation about his dancing debut, but he’s no slouch when it comes to belting out a song. “On holiday I’m always the first to volunteer for the karaoke.” And what’s his party piece? “Usually an 80’s classic or ‘I Am The One and Only’ by Chesney Hawkes!”
‘King Herod’s Song’ is a very different kind of showstopper – and one Paul can’t wait to perform. “The rest of the songs in the show are pretty intense. With my song, the whole cast can let rip and really go for it. It’s going to be fantastic with a full live orchestra!”
Six peformances of Jesus Christ Superstar run from Tues 13th - Sat 17th May 2014 at the Haymarket, Basingstoke.