Interview with Glenn Adamson on His Role in Closer to Heaven

by | Jun 20, 2024

Editor Claudio Harris sits down with Glenn Adamson to discuss his captivating role as Dave in the new production of Closer to Heaven at The Turbine Theatre. Dive into the world of this beloved club musical featuring the legendary Pet Shop Boys.
Editor Claudio Harris had the opportunity to meet with actor Glenn Adamson at The Turbine Theatre to discuss his role as Dave in the new production of Closer to Heaven.
Let us take you back to the Millennium for the night of your life. Suddenly, what was wrong seems right… The Turbine Theatre is proud to present a new production of this adored club musical.
With a book by one of Britain’s most celebrated writers, Jonathan Harvey, and the iconic sounds of the Pet Shop Boys, this promises to be anything but old-fashioned.Closer to Heaven features an original club score by the Pet Shop Boys and originally premiered at the Arts Theatre in 2001. The Pet Shop Boys are the UK’s most successful pop duo, having enjoyed 12 Top Ten studio albums and 40 Top Twenty singles.


Photography @David Muscat


Extended by popular demand! Now extended to 27th July 2024!



CH: So, Dave is a complex character within the fiber walls of Closer to Heaven. How did you prepare to bring Dave to life on stage, and what aspects of his personality or backstory resonated most with you?

GA: I think for Dave, he’s come from a completely different world to the one he finds himself in. So he’s grown up in Ireland. He’s come from a very Catholic background, probably really insular worlds where he’s not been exposed to these larger-than-life characters that exist in this gay club. And I don’t think he really spent any time clubbing, let alone around these people. I think intentionally as well, to not discover that aspect of him, he’s sort of hiding all that, the Catholicism in him is sort of shamed out of him. So when he arrives in this world, it’s so vibrant and different from everything he’s ever had before, which I sort of compare to me arriving in London from living in a really small town out in Lincolnshire. And arriving here for the first time and seeing that as being younger than Dave, being a teenager back then, thinking, “Wow, the world here is so vibrant and people were just allowed to be unique and whoever they are,” which is what we strive for. Inside Vic’s nightclub, which we’re trying to give here, is a really immersive experience of people being larger than life. And Dave is so vanilla compared to these when we first find him. But quickly, he becomes all the colours of the rainbow. Yeah, yeah.

CH: *Closer to Heaven* features music by the Pet Shop Boys. How has that music influenced your portrayal of Dave? And do you have a favorite song from the musical that you particularly enjoy performing?

GA: Yeah, absolutely. I love the Pet Shop Boys, and ever since I saw them, I mean, they’re very slightly before my time, but then I remember seeing them do their Glastonbury set and they were incredible then and loving that sort of tracks. And that’s how I discovered the music. I think people are finding the Pet Shop Boys again at the minute, especially as we keep saying it’s like Pet Shop Boys, some of them performing at the Royal Opera House this year. It’s like, all summer in July and sell-out concerts. And then obviously this is going on. So they’re having sort of a rebirth. I mean, their new album is number one. Is it? Yeah. So they’re firmly back on the scene, and that music is present again. So it’s trying to really honor their music. And actually, Neil Tennant, who wrote most of the music for the show, his concern is that it still feels it should feel clubby and thematic. That’s what their music is. It’s more vocal freedom for us than there is with the music. But it’s still trying to have that vibe, anthem sound the whole time. So it’s not about a traditional musical where it’s all about big notes and riffing on guys. Instead, it’s more keeping the light tracks we like to dance to and that nice euphoric sound in your voice. I think instead, more natural, yeah.


Photography @David Muscat


CH: Yeah. It’s nice of you to say that people are now rediscovering them, especially the newer generation because they were massive when I was a teenager, like, you wouldn’t believe it. Really. Especially myself. Coming from Brazil, they are huge in Brazil. They’re part of a lot of events and people feeling comfortable and, you know, representation, all that.

GA: So I think what’s important as well with the Pet Shop Boys is that they never wanted to be seen as an LGBT band when they first came out, which channels into sort of Dave. Because in our vision, Dave is a music artist that’s trying to make it as a music artist rather than traditionally. He’s making it as a dancer and then falls into the boyband world, whereas in this it’s like the dance is second to the fact that he really wants to be a singer and he’s writing his own music, and he doesn’t want to be defined as an LGBT artist in this nightclub, which is similar to them. And he falls into that bracket, but then he finds himself by the end and sort of takes ownership of that, which I think is like, yeah, they were so progressive when they came out. They had such phenomenal success at a time that was very different from now. So we’re trying to show that world as well.

CH: And the impact that they had without the internet is crazy, and their creativity as well. Like, the songs and the visuals for the clips and things like that. It was amazing. Yes. So? Yeah. You’ve played a variety of roles in productions like *Bat Out of Hell* and *We Will Rock You*. How does playing Dave in *Closer to Heaven* compare to your previous roles in terms of character and stage performance?

GA: Well, first of all, in terms of space here, like 15,000 arenas in Australia, went into the Australian arena tour to now come here. And it’s so immersive and it’s so in-your-face, like the audience here, they can smell your breath, but they’re not close to you. Everyone’s on table seating, so it’s a completely different style of performance. It’s a lot smaller. It’s a lot less of a… It’s the first time for me where I’ve ever got to play a character that’s not just heteronormative. We said we think that Dave’s on the sliding scale between the two, but that allows that to be something to explore from my life as well. Rather than, oh, the characters I’ve done, I’ve just been the sort of traditional leading man, boy meets girl. Yes. Yeah. So this is really liberating in a way, to not have to fall into that bracket and to be able to explore that side of me as well as a human. So I’m finding that amazing and really liberating. It’s the first time I’ve ever been able to do that in my career, and it’s not been butch up everything I’ve done before. It’s been really like, right, this is a very masculine world. Yeah. Whereas Dave is between everything. At times he’s feminine, at times he’s really masculine, at times he’s in between the two. And there’s a beauty.


Photography @David Muscat


Photography @David Muscat


Photography @David Muscat


CH: In his sexuality. Might be bisexual, but yeah, we don’t really know.

GA: I mean, we talk about it and we’ve sort of come to the decision he probably is sort of bi, but he’s so confused as well. Who knows if he would even be able to put a label on it by the end of this?

CH: The thing is exploring as he goes ahead. Yeah.

GA: Which is the beauty of the world we live in now compared to when the show was put on many years ago when it was first done. I don’t think people could understand that he wasn’t just falling into one bracket because then we had gay, straight. Now we’ve got all the colours of the rainbow in that.

CH: I believe that it will be easier for people to understand him now. And before, some people used to judge.

GA: I mean, if you actually look at the reviews from when the show was first done, way back when at the Arts Theatre, they were… I mean, people thought it despicable. Really? Yeah. Because it was a different time. People didn’t. It’s so overtly unapologetic about sexuality and people’s bodies. And this is euphoric and celebrates sex and queer love. Yeah, yeah. I think now it’s time for the show. It was so before its time and now it is time.

CH: I confess, I agree. Yeah. So how do you feel the audience reacts to Dave’s journey throughout the musical? And what do you hope they will take away from this story?

GA: I think what I hope people take away from the story is… Well, there’s a big message throughout it about the danger of drugs. That’s a huge part of the story. And that doesn’t have to go hand in hand with this world, this clubbing mentality, which I don’t think it really does anymore. And also what I hope people say about it is that you don’t have to follow a straight line. You don’t have to know who you are or what you are at any point in life. That’s what you see. I mean, Billie Trix has a great line. She’s a jaded rock star, probably in her late 50s, but she says all the time, “I’ve slept with men, I’ve slept with women, I’ve slept with 12 women in one night and then have slept with a man.” The message is you don’t have to put a label on it. You don’t have to be an LGBT beauty. You can just be somewhere between all of that. And I hope that people take away from it, “Oh, maybe I can explore those elements of myself.” If someone comes to this and they’re unsure of where they fit, that they sort of leave finding this power in being unsure. That’s what I think.

CH: Which is good. So talking about stage chemistry, chemistry with fellow cast members is crucial in a musical. How have you worked with the cast to develop these dynamics, especially with key characters like Shell and Mile End Lee?

GA: I think the beauty of this whole experience for all of us has been that none of us knew each other before we started. So there’s no preconceived notions of what anyone’s like, what they are. But now it’s hard to believe it’s only been three weeks we’ve been working on it because we’ve formed such a tight-knit group. And that started with our director Gene. I think he really wanted that from the offset and wanted us to find those moments of connection with one another. It really, really quickly happened. And this cast is just so talented, so lovely. Everyone’s so down-to-earth and grounded that I think we quickly found that chemistry, and I don’t think you can fake chemistry. You either have it or you don’t. And luckily, we’ve all found it with each other. And the friendships that we’ve built off stage have helped that. It sounds really cliche, but I think we’ve just really bonded as people and that’s really showing through now.

CH: Good. And so what can audiences expect from this new production of *Closer to Heaven* at Above the Stag, and how does it differ from previous versions?

GA: I think what’s great is that it is coming into a queer venue. That’s never happened before. So it’s being celebrated in the way it should be, in a way, rather than being in a commercial venue. And I think we’ve taken everything back to the basics of how it was done in the original version. And it’s that. We’re not hiding away from the fact that it’s about a nightclub, that it’s about queer love. I think that’s the heart of it, and this is the place for it. And I think this venue is the best place in London to do it. So I think this is the perfect place to tell the story.

CH: That’s nice. Okay. What other projects do you have lined up after *Closer to Heaven*, or are there any dream roles or musicals you would like to take on in the future?

GA: *Closer to Heaven* is actually taking me all the way up to Christmas now. And then I’ve got a new musical project in the pipeline, which I can’t talk about. It’s not announced yet. But in the future, I’d love to do *Hadestown*. I think that’s a great musical, and it’s a great role. And also something completely different like *Sweeney Todd*. I think that’s a great musical. So there’s a couple of dream roles there. And then I just want to keep exploring things and seeing what I can find along the way. I think this has been a great stepping stone into more different roles. So it’s the right thing to do, especially. And then I was always looking for the next new project. I think that’s where we’re at, where we’re at.

CH: Well, Thank you very much for taking your time and doing this for us.

GA: Thank you.

@Glenn Adamson


Photography @David Muscat


Extended by popular demand! Now extended to 27th July 2024!




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