The immersive Broadway theatre experience Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding is coming to London from 27th April.
We chat with singer and actor, Ben Ofoedu, about his career, as well as his role as Vinnie in the show…
How has this year been for you so far?
This year has been busy, I’ve had a lot of changes in my life so I believe I’m ready for a new chapter.
You took part in the Southsea’s Kings Theatre pantomime of Cinderella last December. How was this experience for you?
The Pompey Panto as we so fondly call it, was probably the best Panto I’ve been in. It was fun as the theatre is so beautiful, the acoustics are amazing and the Portsmouth and Southsea crowd are so up for having a good time. It was a massive hit at the box office and before we opened it was still unknown whether people trusted the theatre because of Covid. However, when I walked out on the first night I knew that it wasn’t gonna be a worry.
Your career, however, began in music when you joined the band Benz. You then progressed to become the singer of Phats and Small. Can you tell us about this part of your career?
Benz were an incredible boyband looking back, I believe just way ahead of their time. We were self produced singers and songwriters. A band called NDubz became the closest thing to what our record label RCA /BMG thought we could’ve been, but they happened 10 years later. So being ahead of our time with Hip Hop and R&B unfortunately went against us. What I did learn was a skill set that I took into my next project which was the dance underground band Phats and Small.
Benz were media, dance and vocally trained at the expense of a major record company. So I had all that training. Phats and Small was an underground band on quite a small record label, there was no budget for that sort of stuff. Just by coincidence I already had all that work in my artillery, it gave us the ability to be super professional with a great record, which added to the enormity of the project. Also, we were on a massive wave of great dance/house records as Brit pop was over, pop music was getting tired and it was the end of the decade. We were facing the millennium and Britain and the world wanted something new.
You’re now about to start a new beginning in the brand new London show, Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding based on the Broadway hit. How does this new venture differ from your career so far?
Tony and Tina’s Wedding is different because it’s immersive and interactive so there’s no down time. I play a character named Vinnie Black who’s cheeky, confident and a bit of a ‘wide boy’ or second hand car salesman type. I have to stay in character from the beginning to end, there’s no off stage, you’re there with the audience as Vinnie Black not Ben Ofoedu. It’s gonna be so much fun.
How have rehearsals been?
Rehearsals have been great, we are a cast of 16 people and we’ve all become a family. We’ve all been thrown in together becoming these characters while allowing each other express their character, so on opening night we know each character and their backstory.
Any nerves ahead of the opening night?
I love people and can’t wait to get going. I don’t know if I’m nervous as I think the audience is all we need to add to what I think is a masterpiece of entertainment.
What is it like working in a production from the impresario that is Paul Gregg?
Working with Paul is incredible. For me I like to work around legends. He’s all calmness and patience but at the same time his fiery enthusiasm is infectious.
Do you have any plans for after Tony n Tina’s Wedding? Any more musicals or stage performances?
Yes I have plans to make a record before the year’s out and shoot a Brit Flick in which I play a teacher. Also I may be going on tour but I can’t say much about it as I’m sworn to secrecy.
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