Ed Larkin makes it big in 'The Little Big Things'

The actor who plays Henry Fraser in the new British musical The Little Big Things shares his thoughts on being the first wheelchair-using actor leading a West End show.

Bev Hislop
Bev Hislop

After nailing TV roles in Casualty and Doctors, Ed Larkin is now blazing a trail as the first wheelchair-using actor to lead the cast of a West End show, playing Henry Fraser in The Little Big Things.

‘I was kind of brought up with theatre – I saw Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at the age of eight or nine and got the bug from there. My first West End show was Mary Poppins and I only recently realised that Mrs Banks was played by Linzi Hately, who’s playing my mum in The Little Big Things. Talk about full-circle!

‘This show has been challenging in many ways. I’ve always sung, but singing eight shows a week involves stamina, so I’ve been learning what my voice can and can’t do. The story is also an emotional rollercoaster, where I go from crying with laughter to just crying, so pretty intense. But a script like that is a dream – it’s what you want as an actor.

‘Being the first wheelchair-user to take the lead in a West End show feels like a real honour, but there’s also a sense of “why has it not happened before?”’ I think it’s down to two things – the first is an accessibility issue, because a lot of West End theatres are listed buildings with rabbit-warren backstages and lots of staircases. From what I understand, @sohoplace is one of the only West End theatres with onstage accessibility. The second reason is that, although film, TV and now plays have put in effort to include more diversity in their productions, musical theatre has had no stories about the disabled experience until now.

‘With so many film and TV scripts I read, the purpose of me being there is my disability. So the thing I’d really like to see come out of this job is just a general brushstroke when it comes to disability casting. When we’re on that stage playing a part that wasn’t written for a disabled person – that’s when we’ll know the change has come.’

This story first appeared in the premiere edition of London Theatre Magazine.

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Photo credit: The Little Big Things cast (Photo courtesy of production)

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