The next interview in our stagey chat series, is with the amazing Ako Mitchell. Ako is currently in the West End production of Bonnie and Clyde as the Preacher. Ako's recent credits include: Charlie in ‘Dr Strange And The Multiverse Of Madness’, reg in ‘Hilda’ for Netflix; Award Winning Film at Berlin & Paris ‘Two And A Half Minutes’; Papa Who in ‘The Grinch’; ‘Caroline or Change’ for Chichester & West End; ‘The Colour Purple’ for Leicester Curve; lead role of Sweaty Eddie in original West End cast of ‘Sister Act’.

Get yourself comfy and join Ako and I for a chat about all things stagey!

Hi Ako, how are you? Thanks so much for chatting to Stage to Page today! Would you mind introducing yourself and telling us how you first got into acting? 
Hi Stage to Page! I’m Ako from Chi-Town (Chicago). I’ve been working in theatre since my first show - playing Mufasa in ‘The Lion King’ - in 2005 at the Lyceum in London. I did my very first acting job as a kid. It was a tv advert in my hometown for the Boy Scouts - of which I was one. I had a blast. I was hooked!! 

You're currently playing Preacher in Bonnie & Clyde at the Arts Theatre. Can you tell us about the show and the character you play? 
Bonnie & Clyde is a brilliant love story and a peek into the dynamics of the working class struggles of the early twentieth century. Bonnie and Clyde - while certainly guilty of criminal behaviour - were folk heroes representing the frustrations of the working classes during the depression. I play a sort of metaphorical character ‘Preacher’ representing the exploitative authority figures of the times. Might be a little echo of what’s happening today perhaps, which might be a part of why the show seems to resonate so deeply with audiences. 

Back in 2017, you played Preacher in the Bonnie & Clyde workshop. How has it been to see the full evolution of the show, and to be a part every step of the way? 
It was really cool to do the workshop back in 2017 as I wasn’t familiar with the piece. The heart of the love story really shone through. Coming back to it with all of the societal change since has made the show resonate with me even more. Also Nick Winston has done an extraordinary, revolutionary job with the storytelling and the creation of epic scale in our space. 

At the recent Bonnie & Clyde fan night, you called the show, an "almost impossible sing". How do you keep your voice in shape? I've got to say, you probably have the greatest voice I have ever had the pleasure of seeing on stage - so whatever you're doing, it's working! 

What a kind thing to say. Thank you. I have a nice little daily routine to maintain my voice. The songs I do in Bonnie and Clyde - and the songs in the show generally - are very, very demanding - which is a good thing - they sound amazing. I do my daily vocal exercises designed for me by my friend and vocal coach - the incredible, talented Me’Sha Bryan. And of course I HYDRATE.

From The Lion King, to Sister Act, to The Color Purple, you've already been a part of so many incredible shows. Is there a particular show or role you'd love to tackle that you haven't had the chance to yet? 
Wow! Great question. I’d love to do some Sondheim - so universe please BRING IT ON! 

Bonnie & Clyde is about to end it's run. Do you have anything planned for after the show finishes? A holiday? A well deserved break? Another show perhaps… 
Hmmm… a holiday would be very nice! But, I’m playing ‘The Arbiter’ in ‘Chess in Concert’ at the Royal Drury Lane beginning of August and then I’ll be returning to the Color Purple for a UK Tour starting in September. Exciting times ahead. 

Do you have a favourite musical theatre song to perform? It doesn't have to be a song you've already performed in a show. 
I did a concert series down in Chichester last year to re-open the theatre after the pandemic closure - which was very exciting. The director introduced me to the song ‘Where or When’ from ‘Babes in Arms’. It’s such a gorgeous, lyrical, sentimental tune. It’s become a new favourite. But really, I love music and love so many songs. It’s very hard to chose one. 

My blog is called Stage to Page. But if you could turn any book, from page to stage, what would it be and why?
Interesting question. I’d love to adapt the Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s short story ‘That Thing Around Your Neck’ . It’s poignant and moving. It is a story that examines family and duty and the occasional juxtaposition with pursuing one’s dreams. 

Thank you so much for chatting to us, Ako. You can currently catch Ako in Bonnie and Clyde at the Arts Theatre, here

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