Boogie Nights at Plymouth Pavilions with Gareth Gates
IF GARETH Gates runs out of musical theatre roles, he should consider writing one for himself.
My Life – The Musical would be quite a show, given the story.
It would feature many elements familiar from successful stage musicals. Few writers of fiction would dare mix so many into one show, however.
It would start with an ordinary lad from out of nowhere (well, Bradford) who has a precocious talent; he was head chorister at the city's cathedral.
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He enjoyed stardom, but tinged with disappointment and a touch of irony. Gareth lost the final of TV talent-search show Pop Idol to a rival from a privileged background – former public schoolboy Will Young outscored him in popularity, not musical ability.
Include some stardust: as a boy Gareth sang for the Queen; aged 18 he had a relationship with glamour model Katie Price.
Add a little heartbreak – he found love, then lost it, separating from his wife last year.
Include the ups and downs of his career, from pop hot property to being dropped by his record label to now being courted by musical theatre directors.
Finish off with triumph over diversity – he has achieved all the above despite having a stammer; he is now a voice coach – and you have quite a story.
Being an accomplished musician as well as a singer, he could write the songs himself.
Not that he is likely to short of work soon.
He next pops into view in Boogie Nights at Plymouth Pavilions on Wednesday, February 13.
Since he turned his back on pop in 2009 (after four UK No 1s) Gareth has played the title role in the West End production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, had a marathon 18-month stint in Les Misérables on tour and in London and played Eddie in Loserville.
Boogie Nights is the pared-down concert version of the fun and funny disco-era musical.
Even so, Gareth admits to feeling a touch of nerves about the show. There's the small matter of performing a particular song with some of his fellow stars.
"One of the songs I sing is Puppy Love," he says.
The song, of course, was a UK No 1 for Donny O in 1972.
"I used to sing it lots and lots when I was younger in my career. I will feel nervous singing that number with the Osmonds, though."
Donny is elsewhere, but Jimmy, Merrill and Jay are along for the fun ride, as are Louisa Lytton (EastEnders, The Bill), and X Factor finalists Andy Abraham and Chico.
Another EastEnder, Shane Richie, co-created the show and in the touring production his son, Shane Richie Junior, takes over the role of loveable Roddy.
Gareth plays heart-throb DJ Dean. But the biggest stars of the show are the songs, including Disco Inferno; I Will Survive; Don't Go Breaking My Heart; Le Freak; You're My First, My Last, My Everything; YMCA; We Are Family, Boogie Wonderland and Crazy Horses.
"That's why it is so massively successful. It's a fantastic night out."
The concert version means that Gareth has fewer lines to say. Speaking is less of a challenge than it used to be, thanks to the McGuire Programme, which concentrates on controlling a stutter through deep breathing.
"My speech is an ongoing battle," the 28-year-old says. "There are times when my speech is affected, when I am tired, for example. I know the work I have to put in to control it, and I do."
That kind of focus was also crucial in his progress as a musician. He achieved Grade 8 in piano, classical guitar and singing and had gained a place at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester before the finals of Pop Idol.
"I found my release when I was eight through singing," he says. And now, after a career as a pop star and controlling the speech impediment he is finding a further release through musical theatre.