Simon is perhaps best known for creating the role of Chris in the original London production of Miss Saigon at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, which opened in September 1989. He received widespread acclaim for his performance, playing the role for around 1000 performances. He has since played many of the best leading roles in the West End including the title role in The Phantom of the Opera and Jean Valjean in Les Misérables.
Simon was born and grew up in Cardiff and feels very close to his Welsh roots. Although they say that everyone in Wales sings it was far from inevitable that he would choose a career in musical theatre. He was thinking of going to university but when he was in the sixth form he was asked to help out with some vocal sounds in the school production of Oklahoma. Then one day in rehearsals the lead boy was off and he was asked to stand in and sing ‘Oh What A Beautiful Morning’. The next year he was asked to help out again and agreed, thinking it was going to be the same set up. However, he was shocked to find they had given him the lead role in a show called Rock Nativity. He was eventually talked into doing it and found he really enjoyed it, so his teachers suggested he should go to Drama College. Simon has always been grateful for the guidance, help and support of his headmaster Gwyn James and his English and music teachers John Wilkins and John Wickett.
Simon went to Mountview Theatre School in North London and in 1982 he graduated, aged 21, with an acting diploma. It was a straight acting course and he was doing Chekhov, Shaw, Ibsen and Shakespeare and played such diverse roles as John Procter in The Crucible and Mark Anthony in Julius Caesar. In the whole three years they only did one musical, West Side Story, and he played Tony. However, interestingly, sometime later Mountview closed and moved and it became an acting and musical theatre school.
When Simon finished at Mountview he wasn’t really expecting a career in musicals. However, the 80’s was a time when big things were happening in the musical theatre world and there were many exciting opportunities. He landed his first major role with the London Players Theatre Company in Villiers Street within days of finishing drama college. Other roles quickly followed and in 1985 he gained rave reviews as the young Elvis in Are You Lonesome Tonight? He went on to play a wide variety of leading West End roles as well as doing television and concerts both in the UK and all over the world.
Working in a big musical with eight performances a week is a demanding job. In addition to the performances there are always more rehearsals or calls for costumes, wigs or photos, especially at the beginning. It doesn’t leave a lot of time for anything else. But Simon loves all sports, especially rugby, football, golf, sea fishing and Formula 1. He loves being out in the country and does a lot of oil painting. He enjoys song writing and has also written a musical The Lost Weekend with John Sinclair, formerly of Uriah Heep.
Simon’s Theatre Credits include:
London Players Theatre Company
Narrator in Paddington Bear (UK Tour)
Blondel (Old Vic and Aldwych Theatre)
Eddie in Mack and Mabel (Aldwych Theatre)
Young Elvis in the award winning Are You Lonesome Tonight? (original cast, Phoenix Theatre)
Marius in Les Misérables (Palace Theatre)
Vernon Gersh in They’re Playing Our Song (Olympia Theatre, Dublin)
Kangaroo in Just So (Watermill Theatre, Newbury)
Chris in Miss Saigon (original West End Cast, Theatre Royal Drury Lane)
Poetry in Motion (Richmond)
Raoul in The Phantom of the Opera (Her Majesty’s Theatre)
Phantom in The Phantom of the Opera (Her Majesty’s Theatre)
Jean Valjean in Les Misérables (Palace Theatre, 2000; Queen’s Theatre, 2004; and Oct 2009 to June 2011)
Che in Evita (Douglas, Isle of Man)
Elvis in This is Elvis (UK tour)
Colonel Luke Gibson in The Prodigals (Belgrade Theatre, Coventry)
Greg Reed in Club Tropicana (Menier Chocolate Factory); Norman in Sex Chips and Rock and Roll (Manchester Royal Exchange); Rhett Butler in Gone with the Wind for Trevor Nunn
Simon’s Television Credits include:
7 Royal Variety Performances; Evening Standard, Olivier and BAFTA Awards; The Kenny Everett Show; Ragtime; 321; The Marti Caine Show; That’s Show Business; The Music Game; The Great Event; What’s My Line?; The Heat Is On – Documentary on the making of Miss Saigon; Night of a Hundred Stars; Sink or Swim; Guinness Hall of Fame; The Chris Stewart Show; The Lyrics Game; Wednesday at Eight; Wogan; Open House; Brian Rossington in Doctors. Simon has also made various TV appearances in Spain, Germany, Holland and Czechoslovakia.
Simon’s Concert Credits include:
Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar (Norway, Sweden, Finland, Iceland, Gran Canaria); Phantom in The Phantom of the Opera Concert (Opera House, Paris); Che in Evita (World Premiere Concert, Chelmsford); Stars of the Musicals (Kuala Lumpar); Aspects of Andrew Lloyd Webber (Symphony Hall, Birmingham); Another Kind of Magic (The music of Queen, Sweden); Thank You for the Music (The music of Abba, Norway and Iceland); A Celebration of Rodgers and Hammerstein (with Carl Davis and Claire Moore, Halle Orchestra, Manchester); The British Invasion (Boston, USA); The Teddy Bear Hall of Fame (for Radio 2 at Stratford Upon Avon); Bryn Terfel’s Faenol Festival (with Elaine Paige and Jose Carraras, Snowdonia, Wales); Men and Supermen (Halle Orchestra in Manchester, the RSNO in Glasgow and Edinburgh, the CBSO in Birmingham); All That Jazz (CBSO, Birmingham); Oscar Winners (RSNO); West End – The Concert (Finland, Sweden, Denmark); The Music of James Bond (Luxembourg, Estonia); A special Les Misérables Concert at Windsor Castle in the presence of the Queen and President Chirac to celebrate the Centenary of the Entente Cordial; Sing Along a Musical (Hackney Empire, London); White Christmas (Royal Albert Hall); Friday Night is Music Night (for Radio 2); A Musical Gala (Seoul, Korea); London’s Heritage (Mumbai, India); Llangollen Festival (North Wales); Best of Bond (Carnegie Hall, New York); Best of Broadway (Sydney Opera House, Australia); Musicality (Washington DC); James Bond (Royal Albert Hall); 25th Anniversary Concert of Les Misérables (O2 Arena, London); The Songs of My Life: Peter Polycarpou (Garrick Theatre); The Chris Needs Charity Concert (The Grand Theatre, Swansea); The Three Phantoms (Chichester Festival Theatre, Theatre Royal, Newcastle); Bohemian Rhapsody (Newcastle, Ireland, Eastbourne, Monte Carlo).
One Night With You (solo album); Miss Saigon, Original London Cast; ‘The Last Night of the World’, single; Are You Lonesome Tonight?, Original London Cast; Blondel; Poetry in Motion; No-good Boyo in Under Milk Wood; The Temptation of St Anthony; Celebrating Andrew Lloyd Webber; the voice of Gaston in Beauty and the Beast; West End – The Concert; Stars of the Musicals; West End – The New Generation; The Understudy (film soundtrack); Best of Bond (Royal Philharmonic Orchestra). Simon was also signed with Mickie Most in the mid eighties on the RAK label.
DVDs: The Heat is On – Documentary on the making of Miss Saigon; Les Misérables in Concert: The 25th Anniversary at the O2.