Gareth swapped pop for treading boards

Gareth Gates
Gareth Gates
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Pop star turned musical theatre stalwart Gareth Gates has spoken of his love for the stage ahead of his upcoming trip to Blackpool.

Gareth, who rose to fame in Pop Idol in 2001 is heading to The Grand on June 5 for Mad About the Musicals, a celebration of some of the nation’s favourite tunes.

Gareth has headlined in Les Miserables, Legally Blonde and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and has loved musical theatre since he was a boy.

He said: “I played the role of Joseph in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at the age of eight in my first school production and it was here my love of theatre began. I then went on to play the role in the West End for Andrew Lloyd Webber some 17 years later.

“My first professional theatre job was the lead in Joseph, in the West End, post Pop Idol and just after I did Dancing on Ice. It was actually the first role I played in school too – so from the school stage to the West end was an ambition fulfilled.”

Gareth names Les Miserables and, to his delight, has performed in the show both in London’s West End and on tour

And he believes Mad About the Musicals will convert even the strongest song and dance sceptic.

He said: “It’s a show that will appeal to many people, as even if you don’t know the individual musicals, you will probably know the songs.

“There has been some amazing music to come out of theatre shows in the last few decades, so we will be paying homage to them.

“Some shows I have appeared in and some will be new songs for me to sign, which is what I’m looking forward to.”

And despite his career as a stage star, Gareth has fond memories of his pop days.

He said: “The highlight of my career was getting to number one for the first time.

“Theatre wise, it would have to be playing Marius in Les Mis. Such an epic show and it was a honour to be a part of it.

“I always wanted to be involved in music. As a child I was never able to speak, and so music became my only form of expression.

“From then I knew that music was all I wanted in life. I began to play the piano and guitar from a very young age and sang in many choirs and bands. Music was all I wanted to be surrounded by.

“The first musical I ever saw was The King and I.

“It came to the Bradford Alhambra and I went to see it with my mum. A few months later I auditioned to play one of the Siamese children. I got the part and made my debut performance on the very same stage.”

And he revealed his favourite show tunes.

He said: Top 5 Show Tunes? Why God Why? – Miss Saigon. I love the pull between Chris’s head and heart. Genius writing my Boubil and Schonberg.

“Empty Chairs – Brings back all those lovely memories of singing this song night and after night when I did the show. It’s a very moving sing as Marius talks about his lost friends.

“Mama Says – I’m currently touring with Footloose the Musical. I’m playing the role of Willard. Willards song is Mama says. It’s a goofy song and I can mess around a little!

“Heaven on Their Minds – Jesus Christ superstar. I sing this song in the show. It’s a very passionate song and requires me to really sing!! I love it though!

“Defying Gravity – Wicked. Of all the modern day musicals, wicked really captured the imagination of theatre goers. Stephen Schwartz really broke the mould when writing this and changed the face of modern theatre.

“It’s great to connect with an audience live. And when I’m singing I don’t have a stutter!. I can connect with an audience through music, which I love.”

Mad About the Musicals is at The Grand on June 5. Tickets are £24, concessions £2 off

Under 26s £12.50 (first 50 tickets, weekdays only).