Best known on television as Christian Clarke in more than 350 episodes of EastEnders, John Partridge is one of musical theatre’s most prolific leading men with West End credits including A Chorus Line, The Drowsy Chaperone, Tommy, Grease and Starlight Express.

He performed in the original UK tour of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats at the age of 16, before starring as Rum Tum Tugger in the West End production and appearing in the film of Cats alongside Elaine Paige and John Mills.

John has also toured the UK in Chicago the Musical, Miss Saigon and La Cage Aux Folles. He has worked with singers and musicians including U2, Pet Shop Boys and Mica Paris and was the winner of Celebrity Masterchef 2018.

John Partridge stars as Turai in Rough Crossing and chat to the Adver about his role.

What’s Rough Crossing about?

I like to call it an ‘undiscovered Stoppard’. It was first done in 1984 at the National Theatre and it hasn’t really been done since. It’s set on an ocean liner travelling from Southampton to New York. The character I play, Sandor Turai, is finishing the play he’s writing with Alex Gal. Then we hit some rough water!

It is a Tom Stoppard play, so there is meaning upon meaning upon meaning. It is a comedy and it is very funny, but you have to pay attention because there is a lot to take in and there’s a lot to take away from it. There is a lot of physical comedy in this too. There is also a little singing and there might even be a little tap dancing. I’ve really enjoyed putting this together.

I haven’t done many plays. I toured in my first straight play last year. To now be doing a Stoppard, I feel very lucky. In many ways it’s been an education for me and I’m not too proud to say that. I wasn’t familiar with lots of Tom Stoppard. I haven’t seen much of his work, so when I knew I was doing this I picked up a collection of his plays and read it through. I frightened myself to death, but this is so well crafted and so well written that it has been great fun.

What is your character, Sandor Turai, like?

It’s a huge role for me and a great character. He is flamboyant, serious, aggressive, kind. He’s a lot of things. I go from Oscar Wilde to Jack Nicholson in the space of five seconds. I also get to be physical. I get to dance a bit. I get to sing a bit. It’s like all my dreams came true in a Stoppard. My musical theatre background has been really good for this piece. And we have Charlie Stemp in the show as well, who also has that musical theatre background. It means we’ve been able to give this play a little bit of that 1930s MGM feel about it and I think it works really well. Everybody’s party pieces are being used.

What is most exciting about touring this show?

Taking a brilliant play on the road that’s not been seen much. It feels exciting, it feels fresh. It’s a great honour for us to have this opportunity to take this rarely performed piece around the UK. That’s the thrill of doing something like this.

And I’m excited to see what the reaction to it will be. I am really looking forward to see if the audience thinks it’s as funny as we do.

How important is touring theatre?

It’s really important. Theatres up and down the country do a massive amount for their wider community. It’s important to support the theatre that’s in your area because they are a resource and if we don’t use them, we will lose them.

What makes theatre special?

It’s one of the few activities you can do together these days. We’re all so focused on our tablets or our phones. With theatre you can come together and collectively enjoy something. I always find that powerful and uplifting. That spirit of being a group of people in one place enjoying something together, it’s really good for your soul.

How do you look back on your time playing Christian in EastEnders?

I’m very fond of Christian and I’m very grateful to him. If I hadn’t played him I wouldn’t have the opportunities I have now. I had a wonderful five years there, but as an actor I always want to play different parts. I’m always asked “Will you go back?” I just think, that was then; Christian’s very happy in Birmingham living an idyllic life with Syed. Long may he do so.

Have the Rough Crossing cast been taking advantage of having a Celebrity MasterChef winner on the team?

In rehearsals, we had a little breakfast club in the morning to do our lines. I brought banana cookies or a flourless chocolate cake. MasterChef defined where I was in my life at that time. I don’t want to say it was life changing, but it certainly helped me. Cooking the food from my past helped me to live in my present. My food story is far from over. My food career is something that will run alongside my acting career from now on. And I am constantly cooking for everybody… but I love it.

Is there anywhere you’re particularly looking forward to on tour?

There aren’t many theatres I haven’t played in this country! I’ve never played Bath before, so I’m really looking forward to that.

 A new production of Tom Stoppard’s high class, high seas comedy Rough Crossing tours to the Theatre Royal Bath from Monday 25th February to Saturday 2nd March starring John Partridge (EastEnders, A Chorus Line, La Cage Aux Folles) alongside West End and Broadway rising star Charlie Stemp, Issy van Randwyck (Fascinating Aïda), Matthew Cottle (Game On, The Windsors), Rob Ostlere (Holby City) and Simon Dutton (The Saint).

Tickets are on sale at the Theatre Royal Bath Box Office, contact 01225 448844 or book online at