Brian Beacom

PHILLIP Ryan has revealed a hunger for success in landing the young male lead in the fabulous stage musical Mamma Mia!

But then it’s not surprising; Phillip is one of ten children. He’s used to feeling hunger in his belly.

The actor, who is set to play boyfriend Sky in the show, smiles.

“Not only am I one of a family of ten, I’m also a quadruplet.

“So if you’re not fast your last.

“And when I was a teenager, my parents had to put their time and money into looking after my sister Natasha, who has cerebral palsy, which was exactly the right thing to do.”

He adds, in more serious voice; “I moved out when I was 16 and from then on I supported myself. Now, with a steady income (he’s touring with Mamma Mia! at least until March) I’m really grateful for all I have.”

Phillip had to battle hard during those teenage years, and not just financially. A promising career as a professional rugby player was sidelined when he crushed his shoulder at college.

His damaged rotator cuff meant each time he tackled an opponent, his shoulder would pop out and wreck his ligaments in the process.

“I was told if I wanted to continue moving my arm then I’d have to stop playing.”

But what to do with his life after rugby?

“I had done some am-dram work, a few little shows when I was young. And even when I was playing rugby I did some shows with mates.”

Phillip decided to follow his instincts and apply for drama college. A stint at MGA College in Edinburgh was curtailed by vocal nodes illness but he recovered and took off to London with a scholarship to the prestigious Arts Ed college.

“When I graduated I decided to go back up o Edinburgh,” he explains.

“I’d had a little bit of a tough time at college because I’m not a ballet boy.

“And I wasn’t getting jobs because I wasn’t right for the parts I was going up for.”

He adds; “I figured I’d get back home and go see theatre, and see what sort of theatre I should be working on.”

On the train back to Edinburgh, PhlIlip took a call from a pal which changed the shape of his career.

Director Liam Rudden was looking for a new Sick Boy to star in the Fringe production of Trainspotting because the original actor had heard the call of Hollywood.

“I got the script that night and the next I was on stage in Trainspotting.”

Phillip took his chance and excelled. This led to him being recommended for the role of Sky in Mamma Mia!

Phillip went through hoops to land the part in the show.

“It was tough, and the more down the line you go you start to think you may have it. Then the waiting game begins ‘Do I have a job or not?’”

He breaks into a smile; “I got a bit of advice when I was at drama college. It was told that as performers our job is to be professional auditioners. Once you’ve got the job that’s the easy part – it’s about applying your craft, but the real challenge is to go up there and do your best, and hope, despite the rejection that comes your way.”

Phillip adds; “I’ve been so luck to land this part.”

Well, yes, there is always a certain amount of luck which comes into play. But Phillip Ryan doesn’t seem the type to trust to luck entirely.

Did he give himself an edge? Was there anything he could do to stack the odds in his favour?

“Yes,” he says, with a knowing grin. “A friend from college was going through auditions at the same time as me and he came round to my house every day.

“We’d move the sofas around and we would dance, and dance. And we would go through the same routine, again and again. He knew I had to make it look easy when it came to the audition.”

Phillip reveals he was offered the tour of Trainspotting at the same time as he landed Mamma Mia!

“I had to weigh up the options for my cv. And although I adore Trainspotting I felt I had to tick off the Mamma Mia! experience.”

Of course he had. You don’t get to sing and dance in Trainspotting. Or wear a white suit and snog a gorgeous blonde, in the form of Lucy May Barker, whom he is now dating.

At least it means the showbiz couple will be together at Christmas.

But what does he do at Santa time with a family of ten?

“Secret Santa,” he says. “Otherwise I’d be bankrupt. We need a limit on each present.”

Yet, his family at least get to see him appear in Glasgow over Christmas.

“You’re right. That’s their Christmas present,” he says, smiling.

• Mamma Mia, the Theatre Royal, December 5-30.