SOMETIMES being a performer can be a solitary business. Driving late into the night to different venues, sleeping in anodyne hotel rooms, eating in restaurants alone, stuck for hours on your own in foreign airports... and often you take up a hobby to take your mind off it.
I took up yoga (no sniggering please) but I found out quickly that all those feelings of solitude simply fade away when you are up on stage performing with other people -- and I really enjoy working with other people. I joined the Llanelli Youth Theatre group when I was 16 and have enjoyed being in shows where I'm part of an ensemble ever since. Like-minded people all working toward the same goal: it's comforting and rewarding to be part of a group like that and inspiring to work with other creative minds.
Now although I've trained as an actor and performed in TV drama and plays, I'm known primarily as a musical theatre singer. So far this year I have appeared onstage with fellow musical theatre performers like Ruthie Henshall, Alfie Boe, members of the Broadway cast of The Phantom of the Opera and many others. I've loved all those performances of course, but I'm beginning to find it more and more exciting to work with people from different areas of the entertainment industry and crossover into different genres. What's the point of staying in a comfort zone when there is whole world of new experiences out there to be savoured? I'm lucky enough to be in a position in my career where I can make the choices that I want to make, so this year I have 'stretched my legs' and worked with people who wouldn't normally be associated with musical theatre. Recently I've performed with the likes of American gospel singing sensation David Phelps, classical star Natasha Marsh and will perform later in the year with opera colossus Bryn Terfel.
This month, I get to mix my musical theatre world with another in a slightly different way. I'll be working with pop star Gareth Gates in some concerts filled with musical theatre songs. I've worked with him before on the Les Mis tour - a big risk for him, as it wasn't in his comfort zone. I remember asking him why he was taking such a risk and he gave me an answer that I realized I already knew.
He was doing it to show his versatility, as being versatile is the only way to ensure longevity in this notoriously fickle industry. When he asked me to do these shows with him I jumped at the chance as he's great fun and I can dare to do something a little different with him.
I won't dare do yoga though. I've given it up. I'm not that versatile.
Upcoming concert dates: Saturday: Concert with Lleisiau Hardd, Llanelli (sold out) Wednesday: Momentous Musicals, New Wimbledon Theatre July 19: Momentous Musicals, Torquay Princes Theatre July 22: Momentous Musicals, Bradford Alhambra July 25: Momentous Musicals, Manchester Palace Theatre CATCH UP Read more of John's column's online www.llanellistar.co.uk
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