Actor and Musician Hadley Fraser on Young Frankenstein, unresponsive audiences and dealing with failure

Actor Hadley Fraser has experienced the highs and lows of musical theatre. He starred in the stage version of Les Mis to great acclaim. But a subsequent project, The Pirate Queen, has the dubious honour of being one of the “biggest musical flops of all time” - a disappointment that prompted a two-year absence from the stage.

Hadley is currently starring in Young Frankenstein at the Garrick Theatre in London’s West End.

On audience reactions:

“There’s no sort of false appreciation, I don’t think, in an audience. Sort of herd mentality isn’t ‘Oh, let’s make these people on stage feel better’, is it? And neither should it be. That’s not what we’re there for. We all know what we’re encountering when we go into this.”

On what acting means to him:

“I’ve been through harder periods in my life, personally, when actually going in to do a show, of whatever type, has actually been a saving grace...It gives you a regularity. It gives you a focus. It gives you a community. It gives you a connection and it gives you a purpose. And so actually, I’ve found it quite a saviour, I suppose, sometimes.”

On his schooldays:

“I was one of the kids who tried to do everything. I probably thought I was quite cool, I wasn’t. I was probably a bit of a prick, if I’m honest with you. I was Head Boy at my secondary school because I just had confidence. And thinking back on it now, it was probably misplaced.”

On defining success:

“I think I have a mistrust of resting too much now...I don’t think generally that I’m following a desire to be successful. I think I’m following a desire to be busy.”

On dealing with failure:

“The Pirate Queen was a musical, written by the guys who wrote Les Mis and Miss Saigon...The omens were all good...It sort of sunk without a trace...I would imagine they probably spent upwards of about 25 million dollars on the show and - I would imagine - lost most of that. And I think it’s gone down in internet musical theatre forums as one of the biggest musical flops of all time...So, to have been part of that, I suppose, is quite a good way of dealing with failure... It took me two years to sort of get over the failure of Pirate Queen...I didn’t touch the stage for two years.”

Listen back to the full episode of MohPod with Hadley Fraser here

Sofie Hagen