By Julie McCaffrey
EUAN Morton is stressed. Last night at the dress rehearsal for Taboo - the new London musical about the life of Boy George in which he plays the lead - the 24-year-old from Bo’ness made a major mistake in a rehearsal for the biggest role of his life. "I really mucked up with one of my lines," says Euan. "George says: ‘I’ve been planning this since I was 14. I’m camped outside David Bowie’s house down Beckinham Way’. But instead I said: ‘I’m outside David Beckham’s house down Bowie’s Way’. "Everyone laughed, clapped and cheered. I’ve never been so humiliated in all my life. And I couldn’t say the next line for about 40 seconds until they all shut up." Euan adds: "There weren’t any moments in the performance I dreaded until then. Now every night I won’t breathe until I get that line out of the way. "But at least they say if you have a bad dress rehearsal, you’ll have a good show."
Quite apart from the stresses of preparing for his biggest role to date and dealing with countless press and publicity appointments, Euan has had BBC television cameras in his face every minute of the past week. "They’re making a documentary for their artwork series," he says. "Goodness knows how they’re going to fill half an hour just with me."
So the week’s been more than hectic for Euan. And the final straw came when he poured himself a deep bath in his London flat to ease himself into another day, only to find there was no hot water. But in between boiling kettles and pouring them into his tub, Euan admits that so far he’s been extremely lucky. "I know lots of people want to go to acting school but can’t afford it and aren’t supported by their local authority. I know very few people are never out of work since they leave college. And I know this part is a big one - but I appreciate it."
Euan left Bo’ness for the Mountview Theatre School in London when he was only 16 and he has never looked back. "I just had to leave Bo’ness," he says. "There weren’t enough opportunities for me there. If I stayed there I wouldn’t have been able to do what I really wanted to do. "I knew I wanted to study acting. But I also knew I wouldn’t be able to do it while still living at home. In fact, I didn’t think there was a course good enough in Scotland. "The course was weird at first, and we’d thrash around on the floor pretending to be amoebas. But you’re encouraged to relive all your life’s experiences and the darker side of your life, so I got to know people very well very quickly. "And I suppose I was living in a little bubble-world and wasn’t aware that living in London on my own was quite a big thing for a wee Bo’ness boy to do." He adds: "My sister Hannah’s still living at home at 19 and I always make fun of her for that. But looking back I suppose when I left I was pretty young."
Young, and talented: for since Euan left theatre school he has never stopped working. Critics hailed his performance in the off-West End production The Silent Treatment, in which he played a victim of abuse, as "simply brilliant". And although he’s had television roles other actors his age could only dream of, he seems slightly embarrassed to talk about them. "Och, you know, I’ve been in the usual kind of stuff," he says, waving the question away. "The Bill, London’s Burning, Taggart, The Knock. But hasn’t everyone?"
However, all the signs seem to say that Euan’s latest part will launch him into the big time. Taboo is the story of the famous gender-bending club which rose to prominence in the 1980s and the characters who inhabited it. The musical was written by Boy George - now in great demand as a club DJ - and contains songs by Culture Club, from his solo career and new material written especially for the show. It also stars Matt Lucas, better known as George Dawes from Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer’s spoof game show Shooting Stars. Critics are getting excited about seeing something cutting edge as opposed to "schmaltzy" Lloyd Webber shows. But not half as excited as Euan’s mum Margaret, who works in the Bo’ness post office, and dad Graham, an electrician. "They’ve told the whole world about me," he laughs. "They’ve even sent video tapes of me on GMTV to friends. But I think that’s nice."
But with all the hurly burly of performances, TV appearances and press interviews, Euan isn’t oblivious to the fact that luck played a hand in landing the role, especially considering he started out playing a character which was dropped from the show. "I got involved in a workshop of the play - and it really was a workshop. "Nothing was written. They were writing it in the back room and handing the script out to us. And George was there trying to write music while we waited. "But when they were casting they rang me up, said they’d remembered me from the workshop, and asked if I’d audition for George. "The most amazing thing was that I only had to do two auditions. "You usually have to do hundreds for these kind of jobs. It was unbelievable." The casting agents must have known they had their man as soon as they set eyes on Euan, who bears a startling resemblance to the star. He has had coaching to disguise his Bo’ness lilt, but the rest is all Euan’s own.
And it’s already going down a storm, even though the show doesn’t open to the public until January 29 and people have only seen Euan in rehearsals. Boy George has made a point of praising Euan as publicly as he can. The star used the Frank Skinner Show to bestow his best wishes and went as far on the Johnny Vaughan show as to say: "Euan sings better than me - honestly. He sings like an angel." But Euan is modest about the kind words. "George has to leave the room many times when I’m performing," he says. "He can’t watch half the scenes I’m in, like when I’m being arrested or take drugs. "He can’t bear to watch past scenes of his life. So I don’t know how he knows if I’m good or not."
Boy George and his doppleganger have struck up quite a friendship since Euan joined the workshop a year ago, although meeting the star was "strange" at first. "George is very funny, very sharp witted," smiles Euan. "I know his little idiosyncrasies and have a laugh about them. "He’s been really supportive and sends text messages saying: ‘I’m really glad you’re playing me’. "But on stage I don’t have to do every little thing like him. The performance is my interpretation of him. "I try to sing like him as much as I can in Karma Chameleon, but not in any other songs because it would drive me up the wall if I tried to do that," he laughs. But until more rehearsals tonight, the BBC programme on Sunday, the gala performance on the 24th and the press night on the 29th, all Euan wants to think about is having a soak. "It’s been a mad week," he sighs. "Exciting, really exciting. But exhausting. Now all I want to do is have a bath - and a hot one."