Gareth Gates chats with Kevin Cooper about working with Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean, his friendship with Will Young, his proudest achievements and his current UK tour with Mad About The Musicals.
Gareth Gates is an English singer-songwriter and was the runner-up in the first series of the ITV talent show Pop Idol. He is also known for having a stammer, and has talked about his speech impediment publicly. Gates used the McGuire Programme to manage the problem and is now a speech coach with the programme.
In 2009, Gates moved into musical theatre, playing the title role in the West End production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat. In 2009 to 2011, he completed an eighteen-month stint as Marius, initially in the touring production and then in the West End production of Les Misérables. He has also played the roles of Eddie in the musical Loserville, Warner in Legally Blonde in 2012 and Dean in Boogie Nights The Musical In Concert in 2013.
Currently in the middle of an extensive tour of the UK with Mad About The Musicals, he took the time to have a chat with Kevin Cooper, and this is what he had to say.
Hi Gareth how are you today?
I’m good Kevin and thank you for asking.
Before we move on let me just thank you for taking the time to speak to me.
It’s absolutely fine, as a matter of fact it’s my pleasure.
And just how is life treating Gareth Gates at this moment in time?
I have to say that life at the moment is really really good and I am extremely busy at the minute. We are currently playing up in Scotland with the show, Mad About The Musicals but we are going to be travelling around the UK a hell of a lot (laughter). It is always nice to be in a position to see different parts of the UK. We have now got two days off and then it’s back to work in Scotland on Wednesday. However, unfortunately I won’t be doing much sightseeing myself as you can probably tell I am full of cold at the minute so I am really looking forward to just having a couple of days off.
You have mentioned the show, Mad About The Musicals and you will be bringing it to the Royal Concert Hall here in Nottingham on Friday 29th April.
That’s right and I am really looking forward to being back in Nottingham.
What can you tell me about the show?
Well it is pretty much a greatest hits of musical theatre. It is the best of the songs from the best of the theatre; from Broadway to the West End. If you love musical theatre then you will certainly love this show, it has got all of the great songs in there. It honestly is a great show all round.
The show has received some really great reviews; The Stage have called it ‘outstanding’ whilst Encore magazine said that it was ‘the best show of its kind’. Are you pleased with just how well it has been received?
Yes, very much, because you never know just how well a show such as this is going to be received especially as there are plenty of these kind of shows out there. So when you are in a show that has had the kind of reviews that we have had, then it is truly a great feeling.
Do you have a favourite song in the show?
I think that singing Empty Chairs At Empty Tables every night is a highlight for me.
Correct me if I am wrong but haven’t you recently played Marius in the West End production of Les Miserables?
That’s right Kevin, I was fortunate enough to play the role of Marius for a year and a half, both on tour and also in the West End. So to revisit those feelings every night together with those lovely memories of being in a show like Les Miserables is great.
And what is it like working with Michael Courtney?
Michael is fantastic to work with. He has got such a huge voice and he has been around for years and years. He has masses of experience and he is also a great producer. The nice thing is that Michael has now become a great friend of mine.
I have been looking at the tour dates for the show and all that I can say is that you must really enjoy working under pressure.
(Laughter) yes I have to agree with you that it is so very hectic. However we do get two days off most weeks so that is always very nice. I love being in a different place every night as it means that I get to see more of the world I guess. Plus I get to experience different audiences in different places.
Because the touring schedule is, as you say, so very hectic, do you have to take special care of your voice in order to keep it in good shape?
I always try to have early nights and also try not to talk all that much on the day of a performance. There are quite a lot of songs in the show that we all have to sing so vocal health is extremely important to us all I guess.
You appear to be concentrating more on Musical Theatre at the moment. Is that where you get your pleasure from?
Absolutely yes, I just love the thrill of a live audience every-night. Often being a recording artist you find yourself in small studios performing to just a handful of people whereas in the theatre it is a brand new audience every night. I absolutely love that thrill. I have done a fair few musicals up to now and yes, I really love it.
But you still do your own shows too don’t you.
Yes I do Kevin. I do continue to do my own shows and concerts here and there promoting my own material. I think that the future will be a mixture of both.
You mention your own material. Do you have any thoughts on a new Gareth Gates studio album?
I am constantly writing. I have always written ever since I was a child as I couldn’t really speak very well. I would write songs in order to get out what was inside me. Writing is something which I have continued to do and hopefully next year I will have a brand new album out.
Can I take you all the way back to 2002, when you were the people’s red-hot favourite to win the first series of Pop Idol. Just how did you feel when Will Young was announced as the winner?
To be honest before the result of that final was read out we had been told that we would both be getting a recording contract. So yes I was a little disappointed. However, I did achieve my dream. Being crowned the winner of the show would just have been the cherry on the cake but I feel that my career had been mapped out for me from that very day and I went on to have an amazing amount of success and as I said earlier, I am still as busy as ever to this day.
Do you still speak to Will Young?
Oh yes. We went through the first show of its kind, long before The X Factor and all of those other talent shows. Nobody really knew exactly what to expect. Will and I went through a hell of a lot together at that time. That has made us friends which will last for a very long time I think. We text each other every now and again and every so often we try to hook-up.
How are your performing Arts Academies, are they doing well?
Yes they are. The academies were an idea of mine in an attempt for me to give something back. There wasn’t really anything like that when I was younger. We focus on the three disciplines; singing, dancing and acting. It’s great for kids, it’s great for confidence building and to be honest I get a hell of a lot out of that.
In 2008 you took part in Dancing On Ice and then in 2014 you were invited to take part in the Dancing On Ice Tour. Do you still get the time to go ice skating?
Absolutely, my eldest daughter is a really good ice skater so I take her lots and lots and obviously at every opportunity, she gets me out there on the ice. I really did enjoy that whole period of Dancing On Ice. As you quite rightly say I first did it back in 2008 when I came third and then I was thrilled when they asked me to appear on the tour in 2014. So skating is now a skill that I have got for life and I have to say that I really do enjoy it.
And on top of all of that you also got to meet and work with Jayne (Torvill) and Christopher (Dean) how was that?
Of course they are both from your neck of the woods aren’t they Kevin (laughter). All that I can say is that they are both amazingly talented people. Thinking about it now, I have actually performed up there in Nottingham at the Ice Arena a few times, especially when we were out on the tour. I had lots and lots of fun working with both Jayne and Chris. I am proud to say that I have two really good friends now.
There have been so many things but if I had to pin you down what would you say has been the highlight of your career so far?
There are quite a few things, for example, the first time that I had a record at number one in the charts, that was a real highlight and then I went on to have quite a few number ones. However one of my greatest personal achievements was heightening awareness of stammering. As a child I wasn’t really able to speak at school and I didn’t know anybody else who had the same speech impediments as me. I wished that there had been a person in the public eye who shared the same afflictions so at least I could say ‘actually I am like them’.
So when I did Pop Idol and my speech became very apparent on TV, I helped out a lot of people who did have a stammer. They could finally relate to somebody I guess so yes, as a personal achievement I think that I would say that.
We have mentioned the current tour and we have also mentioned the possibility of a new studio album. What next for Gareth Gates?
At the moment I am fully booked until the end of the year, and after I finish Mad About The Musicals I go straight back into the musical Footloose and I will be on tour with that until the end of the year, and I have to say that I am really looking forward to that. Beyond that, who knows? As I said earlier, I think that it will be a mixture of doing my own stuff and doing musical theatre here and there.
On that note Gareth let me once again thank you for taking the time to speak to me.
It’s all good Kevin, it’s been great to chat and I am sure that we will speak again in the future. You take care and bye for now.