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Heathers The Musical: Star Simon Gordon on taking to the Edinburgh Playhouse stage

© PAMELA RAITHRebecca Wikes and Simon Gordon as Veronica and J.D. on stage in a scene from Heathers The Musical
Rebecca Wikes and Simon Gordon as Veronica and J.D. on stage in a scene from Heathers The Musical

When Simon Gordon was a boy, he travelled to Edinburgh from his Dundee home to see The Phantom Of The Opera at the Edinburgh Playhouse.

On Tuesday, he will take to the famous venue’s stage for the first time, as the lead in the touring musical version of hit ’80s teen movie, Heathers.

“I’m so excited to be performing there,” he admitted. “I went there to see Phantom as a kid and the size of the place – especially when I was young – felt colossal, and I never would have imagined I would be on that stage one day.

“It’s going to be a really cool moment, and I have a lot of family and friends coming to the shows.”

London-based Simon is making a relatively quick return to Scotland, having spent more than a year here during lockdown.

“I had just finished a job in February 2020 and had come back to Scotland like I always do, and Covid hit while I was here.

“So, rather than go back to London and be locked down in a flat, I thought I’d stay in Scotland with family and friends, and with more outdoor space. I stayed for more than a year, and I loved it.”

But London is where he needs to be, after grinding out a successful West End career over the past decade. A youth theatre performer and singer in a wedding band during his student days, he first came to prominence in 2012 when he was selected to be part of Superstar, an ITV show where Andrew Lloyd Webber searched for the next actor to play Jesus Christ Superstar.

Simon Gordon

His time on the show came while he was in the third year of a law degree, which presented him with a dilemma.

“With those types of shows, you need to strike while the iron is hot to make real use of it, and I didn’t,” he explained. “Opportunities popped up at the time and it was difficult not to abandon ship, but I’d sacrificed three years and it would have all been for nothing if I’d left, so I saw it through.

“I’m glad I did, because it gave me perspective and showed me there is life outside of the entertainment industry. Being on Superstar also gave me an insight into that life, and I think it helped me get into drama school.”

As soon as he completed his degree, Simon moved to London and was accepted into the Guildford School of Acting, but afterwards it proved tough to make his mark in the industry.

“I had two years with no acting work. It’s hard to get that first job, I was a singing waiter and did things like sell food boxes. Selling the food boxes was a tough job – I was at a stand at events for 10 hours at a time, surrounded by very talented salespeople who were hard selling. If I wanted to pay the rent, I had to sell those boxes.”

An acting job finally came his way, playing the Ewan McGregor role in Secret Cinema’s immersive production of Moulin Rouge, and he has worked consistently on the stage ever since.

Now he has taken on the Christian Slater role of JD in the musical version of Heathers, a black comedy about a teen rebel who takes the vulnerable Veronica under his wing and persuades her to start killing their fellow pupils.

“It’s dark but it’s also funny, which is really important or it wouldn’t be a fun trip to the theatre,” he added. “The movie’s themes are all addressed, such as suicide and bullying, which are more relevant today, and the songs are great.

“It’s a dream role to play – there aren’t many characters you get to go that far with, and there is a lot of light and shade to him. I saw it in the West End three years ago, and when I heard it was coming back, I really wanted to be involved.”

Heathers The Musical, Edinburgh Playhouse, Tue-Sat