Olivier-award nominee Charlie Stemp plays Dvornichek in Rough Crossing this week in Bath.

One of musical theatre’s brightest new stars, Charlie recently performed opposite Bette Midler in Hello, Dolly! on Broadway, receiving the 2018 Theatre World Award for Outstanding Broadway Debut.

Over Christmas he starred in Snow White at the London Palladium alongside Dawn French, Julian Clary and Nigel Havers.

Charlie made his professional debut in Wicked in the West End before playing Eddie in Mamma Mia! on international tour and Arthur Kipps in Half a Sixpence in the West End, where he returns later this year to star as Bert in the 2019 revival of Mary Poppins.

Here he tells the Adver abut his latest role in Rough Crossing

 What’s Rough Crossing about?

It’s a play within a play set on a cruise liner heading from Southampton to New York. Two writers, Sandor Turai and Alex Gal, are writing a play called The Cruise of the Dodo. I play a character called Dvornichek, who is a waiter aboard the SS Italian Castle. The play follows them and their cast having to create a new play in a very short space of time. It’s very funny. The more I do it the more I realise how funny it is What is Dvornichek like?

He spends most of the cruise trying to find his sea legs as he’s lied his way onto the ship. He’s worked as a waiter for most of his life, but on land, not on a ship. The role is great fun for someone like me who loves to be physical when performing.

Why were you eager to be part of this production?

Because the play is written by Tom Stoppard, who is one of the greatest writers of our time. He’s a god. The more I read it, the more I realise how intelligent he is, how intelligent the writing is and how funny the play is because of the intelligence of everything he writes.

This is your first play. Was it a deliberate choice to step away from musicals at this point?

Trying to show that I can do other things has been a focus for me, yes. I have Mary Poppins coming up next, and I love musical theatre, it’s my passion, but it’s great to do other things too.

What are John Partridge and the rest of the cast like?

I always find that challenging theatre needs to be done by very good actors. Everyone else in this cast is genius. They play it with such confidence and intelligence, that you understand things you would miss. It’s because of the inflections they use, the pauses or the way they say the lines.

How are you feeling about taking the show on tour?

I’m excited. I’ve never done a UK tour before. I’m going to try and see a bit more of Britain. As a kid we used to drive around the country for holidays, which was great. I’m looking forward to visiting places I’ve never been. I’m excited about visiting everywhere on the tour, but all for different reasons. It definitely won’t get boring.

How important is touring theatre?

It’s so important. The West End is considered to be the place where it’s at. In reality, it’s just different. Regional Theatre doesn’t mean the quality is any better or worse. I feel very privileged to be part of a cast of people who get to take a fantastic show to really prestigious venues.

You really made your name starring in Half a Sixpence. What was that experience like?

It was an exhausting whirlwind. I loved it. I had a smile on my face the entire time. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do; learning everything, keeping myself fit and healthy. I was teetotal for the entire year. That show was a big ask. I was basically running half a marathon every night. But it was incredible.

When did you become aware of the effect it was having on your career?

When I was nominated for an Olivier Award. That was the time when I thought, “Maybe it’s not just people blowing smoke.”

What can audiences expect from a trip to see Rough Crossing?

Laughter, lots of cognac, intelligent, witty actors and lots of fun.

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

I love history so I’m really excited about being in Bath.

Rough Crossing appears at the Theatre Royal Bath until Saturday 2nd March. Tickets are on sale at the Theatre Royal Bath Box Office, contact 01225 448844 or book online at www.theatreroyal.org.uk