The man who has turned from talent show contestant to chart-busting pop star to musical theatre stalwart hits the Grand Opera House in Footloose from May 2.
Based on the 1984 screen sensation starring Kevin Bacon, Footloose: The Musical tells the story of city boy Ren, who has to move to a rural backwater in America where dancing is banned. All hell breaks out as Ren breaks loose and soon has the whole town up on its feet.
Songs include Eighties favourites like Holding Out for a Hero, Almost Paradise, Let’s Hear it for the Boy and the title track.
Here Gareth talks about his early days, his skimpy stage attire and his favourite musical.
‘I need to be pumped up!’
When did you first start to sing?
I was eight years old when I first realised I could sing. It was at my first school where they were putting on a production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat. I was fairly young so I can’t remember too much about it, but I remember it being liberating.
Years later I was asked by Andrew Lloyd Webber to play Joseph in the West End and I jumped at the chance. It just hasn’t stopped since!
Did you know Footloose before joining this production?
I am a big fan of the film. It was released the year I was born in 1984 and I remember watching it quite a bit growing up. It’s a classic. I actively went after this job; the role really appealed to me. I’m playing the comedy role which is a type of character that I’ve never played before, and it’s great.
Tell us about the role you’re playing.
I’m playing Willard, who is the character who can’t dance. To be honest, that suits me down to the ground! He’s a cowboy from Beaumont. It’s a really small town in the United Stated where everybody knows everybody’s business, and dancing is banned.
Ren arrives in Beaumont and shakes everything up; he teaches Willard how to dance. Willard is a goofy character, and this is brand new for me. I am really enjoying playing someone completely different. I like to challenge myself.
We hear you have to wear gold hotpants in one scene…?
I’ve actually been driving to every city on tour so I can take my weights bench with me. If I’m going to be half naked on stage, I need to be pumped up!
What is your favourite musical?
That’s a really tough one. I absolutely loved the 25th Anniversary production of Les Miserables which toured a few years back. It was stunning. The cast were incredible and the venues just huge.
I learnt my craft on that job, from the best. We even got to take the show to Paris, which was obviously incredible.