ESP’s Sarah Tempest catches up with singer Gareth Gates ahead of his appearance at The Cresset…
“I first did the show last year and we had so much fun, we decided to do it all over again!” he laughs, clearly looking forward to it. “It’s a brilliant show, perfect for any lover of musical theatre as we feature some of the most loved songs from shows such as Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables and more modern shows too.” But Gareth insists the show is not just for dyed in the wool fans of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Michael Ball, “There’s great mixture of music with pieces from the 1950s right up to a section from We Will Rock You so, really, it’s great for music lovers of all ages.”
But the diversity of the music brings its own challenge, particularly as Gareth had to have surgery on his vocal chords at the end of last year. “Changing your voice to sing the different styles of songs can be really challenging but it’s like any athlete, you have to practice and warm up properly and, thankfully, I’m fine now.” And it’s a good job because there’s one song he’s particularly looking forward to performing; “I did Les Mis 5 years ago and that show particularly holds lovely memories for me so I’m particularly looking forward to singing [the super emosh] Empty Chairs at Empty Tables.” Let’s just hope Bretton Sainbury’s have stocked up on tissues!
But as well as being a singer and musical theatre actor, Gareth has many other talents such as skating (he came 4th on ITV’s Dancing on Ice), he’s a qualified McGuire Method speech coach, after learning the method to successfully manage his own stammer and he’s now a successful entrepreneur with his own performing arts academies and his latest business venture, coconut tea, which is not as bizarre as it sounds!
“I’ve never been able to drink normal tea or coffee because of the caffeine,” he explains, “so the only hot drinks I could have were hot water or herbal stuff. Coconut is huge at the moment with coconut water and coconut oil being huge on the market so I had this idea to create a hot coconut drink. We only launched in April and we’ve had lots of interest so watch this space!”
So with his business interests and his back to back musical career (he’s coming out of Footloose, into Mad About The Musicals and back into Footloose before opening in panto later this year, phew!), how does he find time for his 6-year-old daughter Missy and girlfriend Fay, especially as she’s currently starring as Kate Connor in Corrie. “It’s not easy, but you make it work,” he says. “I see my daughter lots and lots and she’s constantly on the road with me too. She’s showing real signs of following in my footsteps; she’s all singing all dancing!” But he laughs at suggestions that romantic evenings with his girlfriend are now meeting at motorway service stations, gazing at each other over a microwaved Ginsters. “We’re slightly more glamorous than that! It helps that her Corrie schedule is only five days a week so she comes to me wherever I am and we spend any time off together.”
But time off is a rare thing for busy Mr Gates and he says he never has any free time to himself. But when pushed (I offered to wave my magic wand and give him the afternoon off, well, you never know!) he has to have a long think about how he’d spend an unexpected free afternoon.
“I’d sit in a room, all by myself and come up with more business ideas,” he laughs. And from the man with the vision for coconut brew, we don’t doubt it.
Mad About The Musicals is coming to The Cresset on May 20. Call the box office for tickets on 01733 265705.