Ricardo Afonso, the leading man of multiple West End productions, was born into a life of music.
"As a child I remember my dad singing fado (a form of Portuguese singing) in big family reunions and everyone on his side of the family knew how to sing and loved performing. I guess that made an impression," the Britain-based Portuguese singer shares in an email interview with StarLifestyle."There were no professionals, just amateurs, but it was real. It was all very joyful and happy so it was easy for me to jump right in."
And jump right in he did.
Afonso cut his teeth as a guitarist in a band, performing at bars and competitions. However, Afonso recalls it was one afternoon in 1996 that he decided to devote his career to the arts.
"I decided to go for an audition for a musical TV series. It was an open audition in which anyone could apply, even non-actors like myself. I got the job. And I was hooked. I was very lucky to have worked the following three years with the best stage directors in Portugal and I learned a lot."
He then had a stint performing on a cruise ship, where he first met actors from London's famed theatre district West End. "I was at sea for two years, working on production shows and learning from other acts as well, and what struck me was the quality of these acts coming from the West End.
"So I made my mind up and decided that's where I wanted to be, in London. So I sold my little basement flat (in Portugal), my bike and off I went!"
Afonso left for London in 2005, and not long after, landed the lead role of Galileo in We Will Rock You, a musical based on the songs of Queen.
"I played Galileo for two runs, from 2007 to 2009, and came back for another run, from 2010 to 2011. I loved playing this role. How could you not? He's a rock star in the making with a life-changing moment after meeting this bad*** girl, full of attitude, and they both set off to challenge the boring world they live in," he reminisces. "It never got boring or the same. The audiences we had were amazing. It was the best time of my career so far."
But Afonso's dream job was also extremely physically-demanding. We Will Rock You was staged eight times a week. "Stamina. You have to put it into your head and body. You have to give it your all every single time. It's one thing thinking you can do it. You have to physically go through the discipline of understanding what you need to do. Song by song. Scene by scene. And of course, having great fun as you're doing it!"
The thespian also talks about his admiration for Queen lead vocalist Freddie Mercury, who was the subject of the celebrated biopic, Bohemian Rhapsody.
"Freddie was unique. He still is, in my eyes, the most special male performer I have ever seen. His truthfulness through his performances and his respect for the audience at all times makes him the best.
"His vocals were insane as was his ability to captivate everyone that watched him. He left so much for all of us to learn from and enjoy."
Afonso has since starred in other West End productions including Thriller Live, Top Hat and Women On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown.
He will be performing as part of the Stars Of The West End Sing The Rock Musicals! show on April 28 at Sunway Hotel Resort & Spa, Subang Jaya.
"We feel very privileged and honoured to perform for you all," he says about the Malaysian show, which will feature other West End stars like Shona Lindsay, Carole Stennett and Mike Sterling.
Tickets to the show, priced at RM150, RM190, RM280 and RM380, are available from britishtheatreplayhouse.com and ticketcharge.com.my.