Q&A: Gareth Gates on childhood dreams, musicals and touring essentials ahead of Mad About The Musicals show at Cambridge Corn Exchange

Gareth Gates

Gareth Gates - Credit: Archant

Mad About The Musicals celebrates its 10th anniversary this year and comes to the Cambridge Corn Exchange in June.

Gareth Gates in Mad About The Musicals

Gareth Gates in Mad About The Musicals - Credit: Archant

Taking the audience on a whistle stop tour from the heart of London’s theatre land to the glitz of Broadway, expect to hear music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Rodgers & Hammerstein as the cast bring the stage to life for two hours of unforgettable favourites. Gareth Gates plays one of the leading roles...

Tell us about the first ever musical you appeared in. What did you play and how did it go?

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 17 years later. To go from the school stage to the West End was an ambition fulfilled!

What’s your favourite musical of all time?

Les Miserables! I had the privilege of playing Marius both on tour and in the West End of London. The music and dialogue is moving and epic. It has a very special place in my heart.

How did you got involved with the show and what can people expect on the night?

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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 sing, which is what I’m looking forward to.

There’s a lot of banter between you and your co-stars in Mad About The Musicals. Is comedy something you enjoy?

I love comedy – people think if you have a stutter you can’t be funny – when I am actually... I love playing jokes. The comedy role I have in Footloose – and yes I do love a bit of banter!

Tell us a funny backstage story...

I’ve had it all: from open zips on trousers, to forgetting lyrics. But the most mortifying experience was singing the ‘Heart Full Of Love’ duet in Les Miserables with a leading lady present. She missed her entry so I sang the song to myself!

What would your dream gig be?

Valjean - Les Mis - when I look old enough!

What did you want to be when you were a child?

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.

What was the first musical you ever saw and how old were you?

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 same stage!

Top five show tunes and why?

1. Why God Why - Miss Saigon. I love the pull between Chris’s head and heart. Genius writing by Boubil and Schonberg.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. 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.

What do you love most about performing live on stage?

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.

The X-Factor or The Voice? Which do you watch?

I hardly ever get the chance to watch them as I’m always on stage ! But I try and watch the X Factor when I can – it’s the closest to Pop Idol so I’ll always have an interest in it – once you’ve been on the show, you just have to watch it!

You famously said you have two left feet. Will we ever see you on Strictly Come Dancing?

I would love to do Strictly. This year I’ve been in the musical Footloose and the scariest thing was doing a solo dance scene – but after a lot of work, I’m pretty good actually. Maybe there is hope for me yet.

On tour, what are the must-pack items in your suitcase?

My iPhone, iPad, MAC – all Appled up. As well as my weights – I like to stay in shape, lots of healthy food. I eat a lot of protein. And of course my new coconut tea! And my girlfriend Faye if it’s the weekend and she’s not filming in Corrie – I miss her as we are both working a lot.

What does your daughter Missy think of you being a performer?

Missy has to come and see everything I’m in. As many times as she can. She sees all my shows, so hopefully she will come to this leg of the tour as well.

Mad About The Musicals comes to the Cambridge Corn Exchange on Saturday June 18. Starts 7.30pm.

Tickets; £27.50 to £29.50 (including a £2.50 booking fee) can be purchased from www.cambridgelivetrust.co.uk