There are two things former X Factor finalist, now musical theatre star Rachel Adedeji is looking forward to most about coming to Blackpool in a few weeks’ time.
The Pleasure Beach. And fish’n’chips!
The 23-year-old, from London, says she enjoyed coming to Blackpool last time she was here – with Thriller Live – and she can’t wait to be back.
“I’m really looking forward to coming to Blackpool,” she says excitedly as we chat on the phone.
She’s currently in Belfast, as the Jesus Christ Superstar tour started on January 21 and is making its way around the UK, and she chats to me between shows and in between planning her forthcoming wedding, taking place in August.
“I love Blackpool. I had a great time last time, so it will be so nice to be back.
“I really want to go to the Pleasure Beach.
“I’m hoping the weather will hold out when I come so I can make the most of it. And of course, some nice cod and chips.”
And getting to visit various places is one of the things Rachel is really enjoying about touring.
She considers herself relatively new to musical theatre – having started a year-and-a-half ago.
Her first production was in the UK and European tour of Thriller Live, in 2014.
She said: “My first show in Thriller was in Belfast and that’s where we are at the moment with Jesus Christ Superstar, so that feels really nice to come back.
“I love getting to see and experience different places on tour.
“Of course, doing a Michael Jackson show is so different from Jesus Christ Superstar – I won’t be doing any ‘shamons’ or ‘woos’ onstage.
“It’s just such a great experience, it’s making me want it more and making me feel as soon as this tour has finished, I want to move on to the next musical! I’m loving it!”
Rachel, who shot to fame after becoming a finalist in the 2009 series of X Factor, is clearly enjoying every moment.
“The tour is going really well. We’re on our fourth city now.
“I wasn’t feeling well on my first night in Belfast and felt like I could barely sing a note, but the audience were great and the support just kept me going.
“The reaction from audiences so far has been so nice, we have had a standing ovation every night everywhere we’ve been. That really is wonderful.
“The audiences have been a bit quiet at first, but by halfway through the first act, they are all on their feet, making noise, joining in.
“Getting that reaction from the audience is just so nice.
“But also, for me, it’s really nice to get to work with a bunch of such talented people, who are so passionate about what they do.
“It makes things easier for me, especially as I have been doing musical theatre for about a year-and-a-half – it’s so nice to work with people who are that supportive and encouraging.”
It’s different from being a recording artist, of course, which is something Rachel has done for four years.
She is still working on recording music while appearing onstage.
“It’s so completely different from being a recording artist, being in musical theatre.
“It’s hard work in the industry and there are so many artists out there, competing with each other, after that number one record.
“It’s like a little family being onstage and on tour.
“It’s so great for me to be able to enjoy being on tour, to have that great support and to still be able to record music, too.
“My single Lately was released on Sound Cloud recently, and that’s got a nice response.
“I’m still working in the studio on recording – hopefully I will have something played on Radio One!”
Music and performing were always dreams of Rachel’s.
She started singing at a very early age and attended various stage schools.
“From a very early age, my parents could obviously see something in my sisters and I, because they put us into stage school.
“My first performance was at Her Majesty’s Theatre when I was about six.
“I studied musical theatre in college and graduated with a triple distinction, which I am really proud of.
“I really loved singing, whether it was pop, or musical theatre.
“Being onstage and working in the music industry was something I did dream about when I was young.
“I remember watching ‘Stars In Their Eyes’ when I was younger and one girl was on it who was really good and I remember saying I wanted to be like her. And my mum told me to just go for it.
“So a few years later, I did audition for X Factor, because I had that attitude from my mum and felt I had nothing to lose.
“And X Factor was such a great experience. I learned so much.”
Growing up, Rachel liked to listen a wide variety of music and was influenced by a whole range of artists.
She said: “I liked a really eclectic mix really. I loved Celine Dion and Whitney Houston, but I also loved Stevie Wonder, and Genesis and Phil Collins.
“There’s so many talented artists, so many of them provided inspiration for young artists like myself.
“They’ve stood the test of time. And although there’s good music out now, I really love those artists, so I just end up going back to listening to Whitney Houston.”
And getting to work with one of her idols was another highlight of her X Factor experience.
“Having the chance to get to sing to Whitney Houston was just amazing. It’s something I will never forget.
“X Factor is a real make or break experience, especially for a 17-year-old.
“I remember feeling down I was in the bottom two, you can’t help it.
“But getting to sing to Whitney Houston and getting great feedback from her, was just incredible and I felt like I’d won the series.”
As Rachel was so young when she went through X Factor, she has this advice for any young people starting in the industry – or appearing on a similar talent show.
“You have to have a thick skin and be determined. And you have to be yourself. It’s so easy to try to be someone else.
“You have to be prepared to work hard and never give up. You have to try and try again and try again.
“Maybe you release a single and it doesn’t do that well, but you can’t just give up.
“I don’t think people like Stevie Wonder or Whitney Houston didn’t have to work hard. They had to work for it, too.”
And Rachel hopes people in Blackpool will come to see Jesus Christ Superstar, when it comes to the Opera House, between March 10 and 14. She plays Mary Magdalene.
She said: “Basically, it’s about a good old love triangle. Overall, it’s a beautiful love story.
“If you love Andrew Lloyd Webber’s music and a love story, then you will love this show.”
• You can follow Rachel on Twitter @rachelAsongs or on Instagram instagram.com/racheladedeji
• You can see Rachel in Jesus Christ Superstar, from March 10 until 14, in the Opera House, at Blackpool Winter Gardens. Box office 0844 856 1111 or visit wintergardensblackpool.co.uk