Competing in ITV’s Mamma Mia! I Have a Dream, Performing in Hit Musicals, and Signing With BBA Management
Every Sunday, musical theatre lovers across the UK tune into ITV’s Mamma Mia! I Have a Dream. The fun-filled talent show follows Tobias Turley and 13 other performers as they compete for the opportunity to play Sophie and Sky in the West End Mamma Mia!
Fast approaching the final, Tobias has shone in knock-out solos and performances with other contestants. Here, he takes us behind the scenes of the talent show, describes how he made it into the theatre industry, and shares insights into what it’s like working with his talent agency, Bronia Buchanan’s BBA Management.
Tobias also reveals his experiences performing in hit musicals like Heathers and West Side Story, shares the roles he’d love to play on the West End, and offers advice to performers who are auditioning for talent shows and productions.
From Tobias’ First Musical to Training at the GSA
Tobias was around 16 years old when he knew he wanted to be a performer. He played the lead role in the musical Barnum at his dance school: “That was the show where I was like, ‘I’m actually all right at this,’” Tobias says. “The feeling of performing and then having such a lovely response was great. That made the decision for me.”
Knowing he wanted to pursue theatre, Tobias went on to train at the Guildford School of Acting (GSA): “It was great,” he says, “but my time at the GSA was disrupted by Covid-19. It hit halfway through my second year and then the majority of my third year was affected.”
Tobias credits the GSA for adapting to the lockdowns, especially given how difficult it is to train remotely as a performer: “The training is never going to be quite what you would get if you were to do all three years in person unaffected,” he says. “But I’m really happy with how I’ve done since and the training I got.”
Signing With Bronia Buchanan’s BBA Management
Tobias signed with Bronia Buchanan’s BBA Management while he was training at the GSA. Agents from the London talent agency watched Tobias and his peers in a performance of Titanic. Shortly afterwards, these agents scouted talent in a GSA showcase, which the School hosted over Zoom.
During the showcase, Tobias sang “This World Will Remember Me” from Bonnie and Clyde, “Ten Minutes Ago” from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella, and “All of Me” by John Legend.
“Afterwards, I got emails from numerous agents and I had meetings with quite a few. I decided, ‘I think BBA’s the way I want to go.’ They were so lovely in my interview. I was like, ‘These guys sound great.’”
“You get told so much before you graduate, ‘You need to have a good relationship with your agent.’ Because it’s a mutual relationship. You’re working for them and they’re working for you… I made a very good choice… I know that [the BBA Management team is] here for me.”
Within three months of graduating in 2021, Tobias started landing roles through BBA Management. Since then, he has “worked pretty consistently.” The team at BBA Management has “been really great,” Tobias says. “I feel very lucky and blessed about how I’ve done in the industry since graduating.”
“I’m very happy with the jobs I’ve done, the quality of those jobs, and the range of those jobs. I’ve done some very wide-ranging stuff.”
Performing In Musicals From West Side Story to Heathers
Two of Tobias’ biggest musical appearances have been in West Side Story and Heathers. He played Diesel in West Side Story and played Kurt Kelly while understudying JD in Heathers.
Although Heathers is an impressive production with “big musical numbers and fight scenes,” it usually takes place in a small space. The show finished its run at The Other Palace in London in September 2023. Seating 312, this is a smaller theatre, ideal for intimate performances.
On the other hand, West Side Story usually unfolds on a bigger set. Tobias performed in West Side Story in Ljubljana, Slovenia, a setting that made the production even more unique. “We [performed] outside at a music festival on a stage that was 30 metres wide. We had this incredible set with scaffolding everywhere. The scale of that was incredible,” he says.
Performing in Slovenia’s summer heat had its challenges: “I was wearing a baseball varsity jacket that’s padded and woolly,” Tobias says. “We were doing the “Jet Song” dance routine, the six-minute one, for the eighth time in tech. [I thought I was] going to pass out.”
“But it is genuinely the most beautiful place,” he adds. “The rural city of Ljubljana is beautiful. I never would have even got to go there without this show.”
Tobias also reflects on the difference between British and Slovenian audience culture. While British audiences usually applaud once at the end of a show, the Slovenian audiences “would stand up for five or six minutes. We’d come on, bow, and leave. And they’d be like, ‘You’ve got to go back on for a second bow.’ So we’d all run back on and bow again.”
Tobias’ Dream West End Roles
Although Tobias has already played major roles on the West End and beyond, he has a list of dream roles that he’d love to play. Elder Price in The Book of Mormon “is right up my street,” he says. “I’d love to give that a shot.”
“I’m way too young right now, but I’d love to have a go at [playing] Shakespeare in Something Rotten!” he adds. “That is such a funny role. It’s one of those characters that’s so wacky and wild. You can be a bit outrageous with that character. And I love that style, being a bit crazy, and never letting your cast mates know what you’re going to do. You have the right to be a bit wild with it.”
Tobias also loves old-school musicals. When he was training, he looked up to the actor Charlie Stemp, admiring his performance as Arthur Kipps in Half a Sixpence. Tobias also enjoyed watching him recently in Crazy for You.
Tobias would love to perform in “something along those lines, like a classic Gershwin or a Rodgers and Hammerstein, with an amazing dance sequence in the middle.”
Behind The Scenes of ITV’s Mamma Mia! I Have a Dream
Tobias is currently appearing in the ITV talent show Mamma Mia! I Have a Dream. Thousands of performers auditioned to take part in the show. Now, ITV is documenting the audition process as the final 14 contestants compete for the lead roles in the West End Mamma Mia!
“I don’t know how I’ll feel [if I win the role of Sky],” Tobias says. “I think my brain would implode… If you get sent through to the next week, that’s a great feeling. To win in this process would be wild, out of this world.”
“This is such a different process from any other auditions I’ve ever done,” he explains. “So many people get to see this process, what I and the rest of the boys can do, how much we love this industry, how great everyone is, and [whether we] get the tick of approval from the judges.”
“I’m really excited for people to see what I can do and how passionate I am about acting, singing, and dancing. I’m excited for everyone to see everyone else as well because there are some cracking performances.”
Tobias’ Friendships With the Other Contestants
Tobias has made many friends on the Mamma Mia! set. “When us boys went into rehearsals, we clicked instantly,” he says. “And then when we met the girls in Greece for the first time, we clicked with them as well.”
“Maybe it was a mutual realisation like, ‘We’re in this together. This is crazy. We need to be really close.’ Maybe it was that or maybe it was just that everyone in that cast is a genuinely lovely person and so easy to get on with.”
“I feel like any of the guys would do an amazing job in this role. Only one boy and one girl can get it. But you’re rooting for everyone. It’s weird. You forget it’s a competition sometimes because everyone gets on so well.”
Bronia Buchanan’s BBA Management: Supporting Tobias in Mamma Mia!
When BBA Management sent Tobias the audition details for Mamma Mia! he felt overwhelmed by the scale of the talent show. “I was like, ‘So many people are going to go for this. Do I even bother?’ [But then] I put in my application. I went through all the rounds. BBA Management was so supportive going through that entire process.”
“Bronia Buchanan, especially, was amazing. She came with me to all the legal days and she helped me work my way through those contracts because there were a lot. Bronia’s a titan of this industry. She’s done these shows before. She’s had clients in the original [talent shows], like the Andrew Lloyd Webber ones. She knows exactly what she’s doing.”
Advice For Performers Auditioning for Productions or Talent Shows
Entering talent shows can be nerve-wracking because they’re “such open platforms for ridicule or praise.” Tobias encourages performers to remember that “all press is good press” and that “if you don’t buy a ticket, you don’t win the raffle.”
“You have to put yourself in scenarios that maybe are a bit scary but, in the end, probably will benefit you a lot,” he says. “I felt the same before accepting [a place on Mamma Mia!]. I was terrified. I was like, ‘This is a big thing.’ I’m so glad that I did because I’ve had the best time.”
Whether auditioning for talent shows or productions, Tobias adds that “knowledge is everything.” This is true whether it’s “your knowledge of musicals [and plays] or the actors in musicals and plays.”
“Even if it’s just listening to musicals or watching old movie musicals with Gene Kelly, it never hurts to know more,” Tobias says. “Knowing stuff about plays and musicals is such a great thing. I love listening to cast albums and watching the movies.”
“Secondly, if you’re going to drama school, three years seems like a long time, but it’s not. It flies by. For those three years, enjoy it but be ready to take on everything. Do the extra classes and get as much sheet music as you can from the library. Because after those three years, it’s such a massive ocean of people and auditions that it’s a little bit daunting.”
Catch Tobias in Mamma Mia! I Have a Dream
Viewers can keep up with Tobias’ performances in Mamma Mia! I Have a Dream every Sunday. Episodes air at 6.30 p.m. on ITV1 and ITVX.
About Bronia Buchanan’s BBA Management
A talent agency for the exceptional, Bronia Buchanan’s BBA Management represents actors and creatives across the television, film, and theatre industries. Aside from Tobias, other actors on the agency’s books include another Mamma Mia! contestant Zachkiel Smith, Ted Lasso’s Neelam Bakshi, and Waterloo Road’s Priyasasha Kumari.
The agency provides the individuals on its boutique list with support and guidance across every aspect of their careers. All agents provide this support and guidance, giving clients peace of mind that counsel is always available.
In BBA Management’s latest news, Viss Elliot Safavi will play Mrs Elmsworth in the new Apple TV series The Buccaneers. Elsewhere, Patricia Jones will take the lead role in Bridge, which premiered at the Norwich Film Festival in November 2023. On top of this, Maureen Hibbert will star in Snow Falls in the Summer, which had its European premiere at the 2023 BFI London Film Festival.
Learn more about Bronia Buchanan’s BBA Management.