Bermudian talks of Covid’s ‘devastating’ hit on acting industry
A Bermudian whose craft has taken him around the globe has described the “brutal” impact that Covid-19 has had on his profession.
Trevor Nicholas, who recently co-hosted a major West End show in London alongside English actress and singer Bonnie Langford, said he was lucky to still have work as many had left the industry in face of widespread show closures.
Mr Nicholas, who is widely referred to in the industry as “a theatre legend”, said: “Covid shut the whole industry down and we are still struggling to recover from it.
“It has been brutal – I have seen a lot of people leave the industry because shows have been forced to close and there has been a lack of government support. There were many who switched careers who weren’t able to trust the instability of theatre.
“I thought about leaving, absolutely, multiple times. I am glad I was able to stick in there and I’m glad that when projects came up I was lucky enough to get a phone call. A lot of people didn’t.
“That has kept me afloat both financially and emotionally.”
Mr Nicholas, 38, was in The Show Must Go On! live at the Palace Theatre in London from June 2 to 6 this year. It was subject to robust Covid-19 regulations including social distancing. It featured multiple musical hits in a celebration of the industry and as well as co-hosting the event, Mr Nicholas performed a song from Hamilton which he previously starred in as George Washington.
The follow on show West End Musical Celebration which finished two weeks ago also celebrated the industry and both shows raised funds for the West End and actors who have fallen on hard times.
“The Show Must Go On! got 40,000 viewers globally on the June 6 live stream and it raised over $1m for the West End – it was incredible,” he said.
Mr Nicholas also starred as the Genie when Walt Disney Theatricals took its Tony Award nominated production of Aladdin the Musical to London's West End at the Prince Edward Theatre in May 2016.
Mr Nicholas, who was born in West Virginia and spent endless summers in Bermuda visiting family as a child, tragically lost his mother Doris Nicholas (née Tucker) at the start of this year: “She was Bermudian and was my deepest tie to the island,” he said.
“Add that on top of losing the sense of self that theatre provided to me and others on stage, it has been a balancing act to persevere.
“It feels worse now with my mum being gone. Life and schedules get in the way – we make plans and we are not able to fulfil them and now there is a new level of heartbreak.
“I haven’t performed in Bermuda, I would love to come back and perform there. I have not been back for a decade, my kids haven’t been there with me yet.
“I miss it. We would go every year and I would insist on going to Dockyard - we would go to Shelly Bay and Crystal Caves and we would have the best time.”
Mr Nicholas said both his parents nurtured his interest in theatre.
“My parents were into theatre and we would watch a lot of shows,” he recalled. “When I was eight years old I was overly energetic and it took a lot of attention to calm me down.”
His parents decided to put him in the theatre where he started off doing improvisation. He later got into musicals and flourished. He attributes much of his talent and success to Hillary Phillips, founder of Morgantown Theatre Company in West Virginia where he studied before moving on to the West Virginia University for Acting.
The profession has treated him well taking him to many far flung places including Japan, Germany, the US and Canada.
”It is a difficult road, there are a lot of obstacles but it is special and unique path to take,” he said.
“With the pandemic, there has been a lot of disappointment, let down and pain but I am cautiously optimistic it will get back.”
His message to those thinking about entering the industry is “keep chasing it”.
He added: “There is not just one simple path in the arts and theatre – starting that journey is the most important thing.
“It can feel like you are not supported but know there is a family waiting to support you.”