Anthony Warlow is accustomed to sacrifice.
    Known in the industry for his dedication and passion, he is meticulous about capturing the voice and physical mannerisms of his character.
    So embarking on a dramatic weight-loss program to shed 14kg for his role in Man of La Mancha was merely another aspect of his exhaustive preparation.
    The singer, 40, began an intense diet and exercise regime a year ago to lose weight for the role he has longed to perform.
    "I've become very elongated," Warlow said during the third week of rehearsals for the show.
    "The big key was discipline and if you don't exercise the weight will just come back on."
    Warlow engaged a personal trainer for a few weeks, but mostly worked independently to lose weight.
    He cut out dairy products and pasta, replaced sugar with honey and also learnt to meditate.
    He went to the gym four times a week, alternating torso and leg weight training with cardio-vascular work-outs.
    "It was tough for a while, but I had this wonderful goal at the end of it.  You can't be a fat Don Quixote.  But the goal wasn't just the show, it was for life," he said.
    The health regime is also a response to the cancer Warlow battled in the early 1990s.  Though he has recovered well from lymphoma, he is still mindful of maintaining good health.
    "Being really fit has helped build my immunity, which is essential in such an exhausting role," he said.
    "And meditating has given me physical and mental confidence to accept things and, as my little girl says, 'Go with the flow, Daddy'.
    "On those odd occasions when you feel desperate because the role isn't working, I think that I nearly wasn't here 10 years ago so anything is a bonus."
    The main motivation for Warlow's commitment to his fitness was the fact he would have to perform eight times a week as Don Quixote, the lead role in Man of La Mancha.
    He has wanted to play the part for at least 20 years, regarding it as the ultimate male musical theatre role.
    "Though I only started becoming serious about the role a year ago, I have lived with this character for several years," Warlow said.
    "I have done a myriad of research and have always loved Don Quixote and (Miguel de) Cervantes' writing, which has really been the source of my interpretation.
    "There is a great deal of theatricality and humour about the role, but also a lot of pathos, with beautiful heartfelt moments.
    "For any singing actor to have the opportunity to perform such beautiful moments is a dream come true.  It's a tour de force that I have craved for many years."
    The most famous song in the musical, The Impossible Dream, will be one of Warlow's greatest challenges when the show opens on March 30.
    He is keen to restore integrity to the popular standard.
    "So many people have bastardised this piece and turned it into a lounge act, but it was never meant to be like that," he said.
    "It's really an old man speaking these fighting words, and I am very much into lyrics.  If you can't interpret a lyric to move someone, then don't sing.
    "People won't be hearing me sing that song, they will be hearing Don Quixote, but they'll also get their money note."
    Following Man of La Mancha, Warlow is keen to branch out into film and said he has already received many offers.
    He is particularly interested in period films, but said he has not yet received an appropriate offer.
  He also wants to spend more time with his wife and seven-year-old daughter, Phoebe.
    "I don't try to plan too much ahead, but would love to do a film if it was right for me," he said.
    "I like to put all my energy into the project I'm working on at the time because you never know what's around the corner."


Left: Anthony Warlow and Gemma Bromley in Annie.  Right: Anthony and Caroline O'Connor.