John Partridge on mental health and Masterchef ahead of Norwich show
PUBLISHED: 10:39 21 March 2019 | UPDATED: 11:23 21 March 2019
From the West End to winning Celebrity Masterchef, John Partridge has proved he can turn his hand to just about anything.
John is one of the most famous faces in musical theatre and got his big break portraying Rum Tum Tugger in the original film production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats.
The actor, who also starred as Christian Clarke in EastEnders, is performing at Norwich Theatre Royal from March 25 to 30 with Rough Crossing by Tom Stoppard.
The show follows two famous playwrights, a jealous composer and an unorthodox waiter as they try to rehearse a show whilst en route to New York and chaos unfolds.
Ahead of the show coming to the city, John Partridge opened up about his mental health struggles, how cooking helped him deal with the loss of his mum and whether he’d return to EastEnders.
What can audiences expect from Rough Crossing and are you a fan of Tom Stoppard?
I like to call it an undiscovered Stoppard as it isn’t performed very often so if you are a fan of his work it is a rare chance to see it.
If you are a fan of musicals you will enjoy it too as although it is a straight play there is a bit of singing and a dancing.
It was adapted from Ferenc Molnár’s The Play at the Castle which is the same play that musical Anything Goes was adapted from.
There is a great cast including Matthew Cottle from The Windsors, Pure and Endeavor.
Who do you play in the show and is he similar to you?
I play Hungarian playwright Sandor Turai and we have four days in order to finish our play before our ship arrives in New York.
As an actor you have to put a bit of yourself in every character which is where you find your truth and it is no different to writing.
The show is a Monty Python-esque farce and Sandor is the puppet master of the piece making sure the calamity of a crossing has a happy ending.
He is so many things and on the one hand he is suave and charismatic but on the other he is aggressive and manipulative.
You last came to Norwich Theatre Royal in musical La Cage Aux Folles in 2017, what do you think of the city?
It is a beautiful city and the theatre is well run and well versed.
We have a big and extraordinarily beautiful set and it requires and experienced crew to get the show ready to play to an audience the first night we arrive.
What was it like to win Celebrity Masterchef in 2018 and are you still cooking?
Cooking food from my past on the show helped me live in the present and my cooking story is far from over.
I’m in the process of finishing my cookbook called No Taste Like Home which was the title of my winning menu on the show and it is a food memoir with 100 recipes of things I have cooked in my home with my family and it is coming out in April next year.
You’re very open about your mental health struggles and battle with alcohol addiction, why do you think it is important to speak about these issues?
On The Real Full Monty last year I opened up about getting my testicle removed after getting testicular cancer and it was something I had never spoke about and had kept to myself for 14 years.
I didn’t realise the impact it had on me until I started talking and then I couldn’t stop and it was tied in with my mum’s passing, which had a profound effect on me, and Celebrity Masterchef so I felt it was time to be honest about a lot of aspects of my life.
When I feel like I’m not coping or not good I find a huge comfort now in being open and it is important to keep that conversation going.
It has helped other people but it is more selfish than that as you can’t help someone else until you’ve helped yourself.
I have been sober 18 months and I have achieved more in that time than the last five years in terms of my personal growth.
Do you feel content now you are sober and happily married?
Even through my recovery I was a highly functioning addict as I met my husband Jon and huge professional success.
What I didn’t have before was personal strength and to be anxiety free and not wake up with that fear every day is a blessing.
It is not bluebirds and butterflies everyday but I am able to face challenges.
We are obsessed with what people think of us on social media but it doesn’t tell a fraction of our lives and everyone is a star on their own timelines whether celebrity or not.
It is so important we use less social media and have more contact face-to-face.
What was it like starring as Christian in EastEnders and would you return to the soap?
I’m very fond of Christian as it is difficult to tell a gay story at 7.30pm in the evening without alienating the audience.
Christian and Syed were two people in love in impossible circumstances and people relate to that regardless of religion and sexuality.
I never tire of people coming up to me and talking about the character as I would hate my life otherwise.
I played the role for five years and there is a shelf life of every character.
I’m already booked up until September 2020 so I’m not waiting for the phone to ring.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
I know it sounds gushy but the highlight has been my husband as I wouldn’t have done it all without him as he has believed in me and loves me warts and all and is my complete and utter number one fan.
I have loved all of my roles for a different reason and the last time I was in Norwich in 2017 I lost my mum through the run of La Cage Aux Folles and she was wrapped up in the character and it made the role very poignant.
Also Cats was my first musical in the West End when I was 16 and I lost my father at 17 so it was the one time he got to see me perform professionally so it has a strong resonance.
Rough Crossing runs at Norwich Theatre Royal from March 25 to 30 at 7.30pm with matinees on Wednesday and Saturday.
You can purchase tickets in person at the box office, by phone on 01603 630000 or online at theatreroyalnorwich.co.uk