“After many years away from Gibraltar, I returned home in 2018, and tried to save some money to attend auditions in the UK, for the flights and for B&B accommodation when I couldn’t just ‘crash’ at friends’ or relatives’,” Anthony says. “Auditions are advertised on social media and specialised websites, and this one particularly attracted me, but I didn’t have the money or the time to attend it in person, so I just submitted a video demo of my dance routines, without letting my hopes too high. But the producers were actually impressed by it and I got the call back. I attended it. And got the part.”
At just 25, he has an impressive curriculum featuring varied experience both stylistically and geographically, having been performing in the UK, Disneyland Paris, Barcelona and the Canary Islands. He discovered his passion for dancing, acting and singing in 2012, when he had just started university, and auditions were advertised for the Olympics closing ceremony.
“I knew it was a long shot but I told myself ‘why not?’ and went for it. After being part of a show watched by some 80,000 people in the arena and an estimated three billion worldwide, I realised this was my call and career.” He continues: “There were thousands of people auditioning for that gig and I got through! Rehearsals were kept hush-hush, and groups were colour-coded and venues marked with geometrical shapes, which added to the excitement.
“I danced with Fat Boy Slim and Jessie J; BBC actually zoomed in on my face a couple of times!”
“I appeared in the section where we danced with Fat Boy Slim and Jessie J; it was a twelve-minute non-stop routine to keep the adrenaline pumping. It was televised and BBC actually zoomed in on my face a couple of times!”
Anthony acknowledges that this was a stroke of luck, but the road to showbiz is long and winding, and mostly proceeding at an ants’ pace for being jammed with lengthy lines – not to learn, but to stand behind! And there are countless no’s before the so much awaited life-changing yes.
He recalls how he and some friends attended auditions for the next fresh face to star in the latest instalment of a blockbuster franchise: “We were studying at the Blackpool Performing Arts College, so we got up at 4am to catch the first train to Manchester, where the auditions were held, and by the time we got there, after a 90-minute ride, the queue was already about a kilometre long. All this just to hand in your CV and your headshot, which was the initial criterion for pre-selection! I got selected for the second round, together with two male friends, while the girls were rejected just because they didn’t match the exotic looks that producers had in mind for the female lead. I got interviewed, but didn’t go any further. Yet, I value the experience.”
A temporary setback in a glitzy career that went on with being part of a Take That tribute act in Barcelona and Girona: “I sang and danced as Mark Owen, the short one, which fits my physicality. Many times, being successful for a part depends on how you look before how you sing, dance or act, if producers have a certain type in mind.”
But in showbiz everything is possible, and one can change one’s appearance dramatically, and flamboyantly, and turn into someone else entirely: thus was born Miss Cinnamon, Anthony’s drag queen act, whom has now been folded in the props trunk, yet not before enjoying her homecoming swan-song.
“I was part of a drag queen act based in Lanzarote, occasionally travelling to Tenerife and Fuerteventura,” Anthony recounts. I was singing, dancing – on stilettos, of course – with a sprinkle of sketches and stand-up comedy, mostly already written for us, but we had our input. I had to do my make-up, and had a say on wigs and wardrobe. I shaved my beard and body hair, plucked my eyebrows, and changed my mannerisms and tone of voice: higher and more flamboyant. I am honoured I could wear her sophisticated frocks and big hair for the recent LGBT+ evening at Dusk, where Miss Cinnamon mingled with the revellers and took the limelight once more.
I shaved my beard and body hair, plucked my eyebrows, and changed my tone of voice.
She struck me though: how you can wear a wig and make-up and look at yourself in the mirror to wonder who that person really is, bringing her to life at your whim, being as cheeky as you please and getting away with it.”
As long as he is performing on stage to entertain an audience, Anthony feels happy, and this feeling encompasses his brief spell as a presenter with the newborn Rock Radio, which for he aired the weekend show from January to March, right up to the eve of his jetting off to the east of the Med.
“When I first started there, it felt strange not having to project my voice, and actually keep it low for the microphone, but I got used to it, and to all the buttons, that feel a bit like driving a modern sports car – and I got to enjoy the interaction with the listeners.”
It isn’t goodbye to Rock Radio listeners, though: just a ‘hear you later!’ – on the other side of the Cypriot summer.