“It’s a dream come true,” Joe Ritjakis says with a smile.
The 22-year-old actor is living the dream as part of the cast of Warhorse, the critically acclaimed production which is currently on an 18-month tour of the UK.
The ex-Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School pupil graduated from the Guildford School of Acting last year and found himself auditioning for the award-winning play, which is based on Michael Morpugo’s book of the same name.
“I got a call from my agent saying that he’d got me in the audition for Warhorse.
“He told me he didn’t know where it was but he told me ‘it’s tomorrow’. So I rehearsed my lines that evening and went to the audition.
“There wasn’t that much time to get nervous and it was a pleasure to take part and audition.”
Since the first show at the Theatre Royal in Plymouth on September 27, it’s been almost non-stop for the past eight months.
Horncastle-born Joe, who uses the stage name Joe Richardson, studied Theatre and English Literature at QEGS and last year graduated with a First Class BA (Hons) Acting degree.
Joe plays the roles of Goose and Schnabel and also puts his musical talents to use as the Bugler.
Directed by Alex Sims, he has toured the country with the National Theatre playing at venues in Dublin, Edinburgh and Salford and has just finished a three-week stint in Sunderland.
“One of the best places we have performed has been Dublin.
“There were some empty seats on the first night and one of the stage hands told me that the Irish tend to wait for reviews before going to a show.
“After our first few shows we had such a positive reaction.
“The audiences were superb too. We often got standing ovations and the crowd seemed to clap and cheer more often compared to some crowds over here.”
Working alongside 33 other cast members, Joe has had the opportunity to understudy a number of different parts and has also played the role of Major Jamie Stewart (played in the film by Benedict Cumberbatch).
“That was a bit stressful,” Joe laughed. “I had about two hours notice to prepare, but it was fantastic being on stage as I got to ride on the horses.”
Joe knew he wanted to go into acting when he was 16 and made special mention of the Horncastle Theatre Company who helped him on his journey.
“Everyone at the Theatre is so friendly and supportive.
“One year I was involved in, either acting or backstage, around 14 plays and it was such a great experience.
“To anyone wanting to get into acting I’d say get as much experience as you possibly can.
“My family have been fantastic too, they have been so supportive and as long as I’m happy they are happy too.
“Not everyone can say that they are in their dream job, I’m very lucky.”