Joe McElderry dons Joseph’s technicolor dreamcoat
Joe McElderry is donning a coat of many colours in his latest role – playing Joseph in the new touring production of the Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice musical.
Singer and all round nice guy Joe took time out from the tour to chat about X Factor, musicals and learning the many, many colours.
How well did you know the show?
I think everybody knows it, or even if they don’t they know it in some way, shape or form.
A lot of people do learn about it at school or do it as a show, or their parents take them to see it because it’s their first time at the theatre.
It’s a very endearing musical, people have a lot of warmth and love towards it. Which to be a part of that on stage, you really feel it when you go out on stage as a cast. Which is lovely.
Did you see it as a child?
They did it in my school, twice, but I didn’t want to be in it because I didn’t want to sing!
I never really enjoyed singing until I was about 14. The thought of standing up in front of an audience and singing made me absolutely shiver with terror.
So I was actually a spectator when they first did it at school. But I did love it, I loved the music.
When I was about 14, all of a sudden I just got this burning passion for performing. It came out of nowhere.
I always did a bit of drama and I was a massive fan of going to the theatre and watching things.
But I didn’t really have the confidence to stand up on stage and it kind of held me back for quite a while. And then one day I just thought, you know I really really want to try this.
And so I went for it.
You actually got into X Factor first when you were 16, but decided not to do it. What happened?
I found it really nerve wracking and I had a bit of a wobble. I just said this isn’t for me – I’m not experienced enough as a performer, and I was like, listen, I need to leave the competition, I’m not ready for this.
So I went away and got a bit more confidence.
And I actually said I’d never do it again, and then I got more confident and thought you know actually, it’s fine.
Did you have any thought of doing something apart from a pop career?
I went to performing arts college before I did X Factor, so I’ve always kind of done all sorts of performance.
And the thing for me is, as a performer I don’t just want to fall into the trap of doing the same thing every year; of releasing an album, going on tour, releasing another album, going on tour.
Because as much as that’s wonderful, I want to experience other things as well as a performer.
So it’s about balancing the two. It’s not about choosing one or the other or going ‘oh well you do pop so you can’t do that’.
I take on projects that excite me as well because I feel like if I’m excited by them then it’s going to come off on stage.
I really really fight against being pigeonholed.
This isn’t the first musical you’ve been in though is it? There was Thriller, and also Dirty Dancing.
Well with Thriller, I did that for Children In Need, where a pop singer goes into a musical and you become part of the show just for one night.
It was a really fun experience actually.
Then it was a Teenage Cancer Trust gala night for Dirty Dancing, and I’m a patron of the charity, so I did a surprise performance of I’ve Had the Time of My Life, which was brilliant.
And then Tommy, most recently, I did at the Winter Gardens, which was a limited run,
So I’ve dipped into it. But this is the first long term thing that I’ve done, which has been wonderful.
How long did it take you to learn the list of colours?
Oh my God. My friend was sitting in the dressing room with me learning the colours, and he secretly filmed me learning them. And I had a huge tantrum and threw something on the floor!
I had to spend three days continuously trying to get them.
But I think it’s one of those things, once you know it you’ll never forget it. Touch wood.
What can people expect from the show?
It’s a fabulous show. Parts I’m not in I stand by the side of the stage and watch it. The cast are incredible.
I’d urge anyone to come and see it because you’ll have a really good night.
Watch our previous interviews with Joe on Youtube
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