'The cast are all athletes – you have to be or you'd never last'
Mykal Rand has the body of an Olympic god.
Not that you'll ever see it. Because this fine specimen spends most of his time in public dressed as a train, whizzing around on skates in one of the heaviest and most cumbersome outfits in West End history.
It's a tribute to his athleticism and roller skating prowess that he makes his efforts in Starlight Express look so effortless.
"Yes I can confirm it is very hard work," laughs the dancer, who has been in six different productions of Andrew Lloyd Webber's locomotive spectacle since he first joined the cast in 1987.
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When its latest touring production arrives at Hull New Theatre later this month, he'll be strapping on the bright red shoulder pads and centurion-like, plumed helmet of Electra, "an engine of the future".
"The outfits are incredibly heavy," he continues.
"In fact, I'd say they were much heavier now than they used to be.
"But maybe that's something to do with the fact I'm 20 years older than when I first joined the show. But don't tell anyone.
"It's a very demanding and tiring production and usually, after my main number, I just want to crash on the floor.
"Sometimes you can't wait to get off stage for an opportunity to get some water or Lucozade and then just get ready for your next entrance.
"We are all effectively finely tuned athletes," he says grinning.
"You have to be or you'd never last. We'll regularly be down the gym during the day – and we even have our own nutritionist to make sure we're eating the right things.
"Honestly, it's like preparing for the Olympics.
"But if it looks great, that's all that matters."
Being the veteran "father of the cast" has some advantages for Mykal.
As well as starring on stage, he has attained the rank of associate director, helping to choreograph different sections in the show – meaning that he sits out one performance every week and watches it from the stalls – just to make sure everyone else is still on track.
"It's such a brilliant cast there's not a lot to tinker with," he says.
"So far we're getting a great response for the audiences, so we must be doing something right.