This summer, as Year 11 rolls around, the transition from childhood to adulthood takes centre stage at The Other Palace Theatre from May 31st to July 14th, 2024, with the highly anticipated production of Babies The Musical. Starring Heartstopper’s Bradley Riches and Ashley Goh, this musical comedy dives deep into the trials and tribulations of teenage life, magnified through the lens of an unconventional school project: parenting a plastic robot baby simulator for a week.

I had the pleasure of chatting to Bradley and Ashley ahead of the show opening later this month and it was a joy! Riches and Goh’s infectious energy as they told Queerly about their school days, accepting themselves and being on the West End stage affirmed them as two of the brightest stars working today.

The show promises “a pop rock 2000s like McFly/Busted score” Ashley told Queerly, while Bradley added “everyone can see themselves in the show… and it’s a new-born musical, which is really cool as well”. We spoke about their own school days and whether they had a moment of realisation where they became more comfortable in accepting themselves. Bradley said “the character I’m playing, he’s quite comfortable in his sexuality. I think I started to be comfortable later on, like when I was like 19, maybe 20. I didn’t have a moment like that.”

“I’m happy that I’m playing a character who is happy and comfortable with who he is. And it’s quite cathartic to play, you know?”

Similarly, Ashley told Queerly “I think in my 20s, I got comfortable with who I am. It’s really nice to play a character, again, that is more comfortable with their gender and with their sexuality in school because I feel like since I was in school, at least everything’s changed so much.” 

On his time in the Celebrity Big Brother house, Riches said “there were loads of things in place to make it more of like an enjoyable experience for me and I had the best time… I was glad that people felt seen when I was on screen, which is really nice.” Bradley was diagnosed with autism at the age of 9 and bravely shared his journey in his book ‘A Different Kind Of Superpower’. Big Brother fans were stunned when Bradley was unexpectedly evicted from the house through the diary room, just as he anticipated a friend or family visit, and right before the final.

Ashley also opened up about challenges they’d faced on social media, we spoke about how they had found solace in the trans theatre community. “Finding the trans community and then realising that I wasn’t alone because that was the thing where I first came out.” Ashley revealed they knew they were non-binary “since I was like 14, but I wasn’t out in the industry at all till like 2020”. Ashley said “I was terrified. I thought I would not get any jobs.”.

Highlighting the importance of finding your tribe, Ashley added “I think that sense of community, I just, yeah, the community in general is hugely important for anyone in any career, not just in theatre.” 

I asked Bradley and Ashley what they would say to their younger selves on their last day of school, Bradley said “care less and keep doing what you’re doing… realistically, I’ve never needed to use maths ever. It’s not that deep, just don’t stress really. And enjoy it more, I think, because I can’t remember enjoying anything in secondary school.”

Ashley added “You don’t have to go straight to university. Take a moment for yourself and just figure it out. Because in school, from like reception to year 11, you’re basically on a conveyor belt. You’re nonstop and you really don’t realise that you have been nonstop until you stop and you’re like, oh, wait, I just need to think because I’ve just been doing what other people have been telling me to do.” 

Babies The Musical at The Other Palace Theatre | Photography Matt Crockett

Bradley Riches and Ashley Goh are amazing role models using their platforms to talk about important issues, and I can’t wait to see them both shine on The Other Palace Theatre stage in Babies The Musical.

Listen to the full interview from Harvey’s Brunch Club on Queerly Radio below:

Babies will have a six-week run at The Other Palace from 31 May to 14 July 2024. Tickets are available now from the productions official website.