When singing sensation Joe McElderry first burst onto our screens by winning ITV’s X Factor in 2009, an appearance in a West End blockbuster couldn’t have been further from his mind.
However three top ten albums later, the South Shields lad now has one of theatre’s most iconic roles etched onto his CV.
His singing prowess has never been in doubt, and Joe has never been one to shy away from new challenges having appeared in, and won, ITV’s Pop Star to Opera Star and Channel 4’s The Jump.
Now Joe has taken on the lead role in Bill Kenwright’s ‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat’ and going by the tour reviews to date, he has absolutely nailed it.
The show is set to arrive at the Millennium Forum on Tuesday 30th May and will run until Saturday 3rd June, and Joe told us how much he’s enjoyed the tour and looking forward to arriving in Northern Ireland. “It’s been an incredible run” said Joe. “The audiences have been fantastic and we’ve had an incredible time on the tour.
“I’ve been over to Northern Ireland a few times with my own solo show and the X-Factor tour and the audiences have always been fantastic.”
When starting out in music, Joe hadn’t envisaged a career in theatre never mind playing the lead role in a West End blockbuster.
“I’ve always been a fan of theatre and watched shows and thought ‘oh it must be really fun to be up there on stage’” Joe confessed.
“It’s lovely to be able to add theatre to my CV as another avenue, another side to me career. It’s something that I actually didn’t expect and it took me by surprise but I have really enjoyed it.”
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
Speaking about how both paths differ he said: “You’re on stage with a lot of people so you kind of feel more secure, like you’re in a protective bubble. When I’m on stage during my solo tour, it’s just me, and everything falls on my shoulders.
“In theatre you’re in the hands of the show and you’re in character, but that also provides a different kind of pressure.
“They’re both very different and I enjoy them both for different reasons. Performing as a musician is my first love and that’s where everything started so that will always be at the forefront for everything for me. But I do love performing in theatre too.
“I love trying new projects. I love being able to learn new things and grow and become a better performer or a better artist.
“I was certainly pushed outside my comfort zone with ‘Joseph’. We do ten shows a week and it’s a completely different style of performing from what I would do in concert. But I love all that. I love all the different challenges that come with it. It makes it more exciting” he said.
“The schedule is pretty full on but I’m not afraid of a bit of hard work” he said with a laugh. “From that point of view it’s very important to keep your body fit and try your best not to pick up any bugs because it’s a tough schedule. You have to keep ontop of yourself, be aware of your body while also knowing your limits.”
With the current tour set to finish up soon, Joe doesn’t intend to relax during the down time. “I finish ‘Joseph’ in four weeks but then I have my new album coming out in July. I’ll be going on a solo tour with my new material then I’ll be going back into ‘Joseph’ in September so it’s all about a balance for me” he said.
Since debuting in the London’s West End in 1973, it didn’t take long for ‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat’ to become a huge hit. With a lyrics by Tim Rice and music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, the show is full of unforgettable songs including ‘Those Canaan Days’, ‘Any Dream Will Do’ and ‘Close Every Door’.
It’s also a show that Joe loves being part of. “I think that the storyline is fantastic and the music is just so powerful” he said.
“One minute it’s happy and it’s comical, the next it’s emotional and it’s dark. People have such an affection for ‘Joseph’. They come and want to have a great time and the songs are easy to sing and join in with. We also have a mega mix at the end where everyone can get up and dance. It’s such a feel good family show.”
And what can local audiences expect when the show touches down at the Millennium Forum? “It’s a great night out. You can get up and sing along or just sit back and enjoy the story.
“I think that there’s something in the show for everyone and I love it, and I hope that the audiences who come to see it love it just as much as we love performing it.”
You can see ‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat’ at the Millennium Forum from Tuesday 30th May to Saturday 3rd June with tickets from £12.50.