Martin's long route to Detroit in Sheffield's Guys and Dolls

Martin Marquez has had a long and varied career from playing cops on TV to Shakespeare and American drama on stage but not so much the realm of musical theatre which finds him at the Sheffield Crucible as Nathan Detroit in Guys and Dolls.

Wednesday, 8th January 2020, 12:09 pm
Natalie Casey and Martin Marquez in Guys and Dolls at the Crucible, Sheffield
Natalie Casey and Martin Marquez in Guys and Dolls at the Crucible, Sheffield

Martin Marquez has had a long and varied career from playing cops on TV to Shakespeare and American drama on stage but not so much the realm of musical theatre which finds him at the Sheffield Crucible as Nathan Detroit in Guys and Dolls.

“I am getting more used to musical theatre and I certainly enjoy it and want to do more,” he says. “For me, I learn stuff and it stretches me. I can then apply it to when I do straight plays. I know what I can bring from musicals to straight drama and vice versa and hopefully that enhances the musical.”

He did, however, have an early taste of musicals. “Back in the day in places like Ipswich where I started they had seasons for a whole company and we did A View from the Bridge, a Shakespeare and High Society.

Martin Marquez playing the numbers game as Labour whip Bob Mellish in political drama This House

“That was the last one I did until Anything Goes with Trevor Nunn at the National in 2002,” the actor continues. “He wanted a company that could do a musical and a Shakespeare.

“So exactly the same principle that actors can do musicals and musical theatre actors can do plays. I think that’s happening more rather than doing one or the other. More actors are being cast in musicals.”

But it was being cast in Sweet Charity, Josie Rourke’s last production at the Donmar Warehouse, that was significant in this regard.

“After I did Sweet Charity, for the first time I felt comfortable saying I could sing. Until then I felt I was an actor who could put a song across but other people said, no, you’ve got a good voice.

Martin Marquez in rehearsals for Blasted at the Crucible in 2015

“ On Sweet Charity (with Anne-Marie Duff in the title role) I worked with the some great people, like the MD Gareth Valentine, and felt my voice came on leaps and bounds.

“With Guys and Dolls I think I have it relatively easy songwise. I have only one song on my own plus one duet and then bits with others so it was relatively easy compared with Sweet Charity which was a big thing.”

It posed a different demand. “Nathan Detroit is a familiar character from musicals so the challenge is not to let people down in their expectations and also bring something new, fresh and personal to it without interrupting the flow of what is a very successful musical. I am happy with the balance,” he affirms.

Actually there was more serious hurdle to overcome when he arrived in Sheffield and felt ill. “The doctor diagnosed shingles and it had all the signs of that in terms of being really painful and having a rash on my back and low energy, But I got through it quite quickly, I guess I was lucky, they got it early and gave me the antibiotics and it cleared up in about 10 days.”

Kadiff Kirwan as Sky Masterson and Martin Marquez as Nathan Detroit in Guys and Dolls at the Crucible, Sheffield

Martin Marquez is remembered as Gino Primirola, the head barman, in TV’s Hotel Babylon.

His first screen roles was DS Danny Pearce in The Bill and he later had a brief stint on EastEnders and more recently was Prince Charles’s security in the second series of The Crown.

He was also a bodyguard to the US President who came to a sticky end in Swedish noir, Modus.

He has appeared in Doc Martin alongside his brother John Marquez, who plays the village policeman. They once formed a comedy duo, The Brothers Marquez.

Stage highlights include John Proctor in The Crucible at West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leaonato in Much Ado About Nothing at Shakespeare’s Globe and Bob Mellish in James Graham's The House at the National Theatre. It toured to the Lyceum, Sheffield, in 2018.

Before that he was in a revival of Sarah Kane’s Blasted in the Crucible Studio. “Blasted was the last thing I did here and it couldn’t be more different,” he agrees.

Martin Marquez’s other claim to fame is as the father of Ramona Marquez who played the young daughter, Karen, in BBC family sitcom, Outnumbered.

“Ramona started at Manchester University in September doing Spanish and Mandarin,” he reports, near enough to come over to Sheffield for press night.

Does she still have acting ambitions? “She’s got a pretty good agent and gets things put her way now and again but because she’s at uni it would have to be something big like a lead for her to consider it. She doesn’t want to do bits and bobs here and there because it would be too disruptive.

“In the meantime she’s getting on with student life and having a good time which I am pleased about. It took a few weeks for it to come out on the university news feed online that Karen from Outnumbered had been spotted – like some rare bird.”

Guys and Dolls continues at the Crucible until January 18.