Well many thanks to all of them! Me and Ali are absolutely over the moon, Zara Katie’s just gorgeous, she is absolutely beautiful!
I’ve been asked to do West End productions several times before – I was offered a part in ‘Grease’ and various other bits and pieces – and I’ve always declined because I never felt it was the right time to go into the West End. But I think things over the last few years have changed and the barriers between the world of pop and the world of theatre have completely collapsed – you’ve now got Broadway stars and Hollywood stars coming into the West End. There was a time when if you were in the wonderful world of pop and then went into the wonderful world of theatre you could never get back again, but now that doesn’t exist anymore, there are no barriers anymore at all, plus I got offered the part of Billy Flynn and if there was ever a part I was going to take it would Billy Flynn!
It’s based on a true story… there was this big, cool celebrity lawyer in Chicago in the twenties, he was a real smooth operator and if you were in serious trouble you called for this Billy Flynn character. There’s a song in the show called ‘Razzle Dazzle’ and which is all about bamboozling people – I think if you were clever enough in those days you could throw a few long words at the jury and they’d be eating out of your hand – and he was a real master at that, at manipulating the jury. But basically he represents all these women who have committed crimes of passion and he manages to get them off. The guys who wrote the musical also did ‘Cabaret’ so it’s not your typical musical; it’s quite dark in places.
I’ve got to tell you that after the first week of rehearsals I was thinking to myself ‘what have you done…’. I’m not an actor, I sing, and I’m certainly not a dancer! So really it was all a bit daunting! It’s not like doing a film where at least you can do a retake if you cock it up, if you cock it up onstage then you’ve cocked it up! But I have never had to learn as much as I had to learn for this, my head was absolutely spinning!
About three and a half weeks, but I have to say that everyone has been absolutely fantastic – there’s a great director, Nigel, who has been brilliant, and Dean the choreographer has been a bit… exasperated at times! I was the new boy and I could have come into a real ‘luvvie’ situation where they were going (puts on posh voice) ‘Oh my god, you’re not a proper actor’. It could have been like that but it wasn’t and everyone has been absolutely brilliant and I am absolutely loving it, it’s been really interesting.
Yeah it is, and with little Zara as well… but then again we’ve got two shows on a Friday, two shows on a Saturday and I’m not getting back until eleven, eleven-thirty at night, so my only real day off is Sunday and then in a few hours I’m going back in again, so it’s still pretty hectic actually. But it is weird having one place to go to every day… it’s a bit like when I was at work years ago!
Possibly a few moves yeah. I have to say what’s been really interesting about this is that my first appearance onstage is in a number so that breaks me in nice and gently but then there’s dialogue, dialogue, dialogue and that was the really scary bit. Singing the songs is easy and even trying to do the dance routines is alright because they’re more like movements than dance routines – there’s a lot of strutting across the stage! But there’s a lot of dialogue, and there’s some quite tricky dialogue – quite fast paced and American… but it’s going alright! I’m sort of fine-tuning it and changing it all the time really.
Ian Kelsey was in it before me and I spoke to him a couple of times and we’ve had a couple of beers. He’s a great guy, a really good guy! He left me a few beers in the fridge which was lovely and said if I need any help to give him a call – he’s going to pop down one night to see it because my version of Billy Flynn is quite different from his…
It’s the same area… I mean my album is more swing and this is more twenties jazz, but just the fact that we’ve got a big band behind us on the show loosely ties in with the album. I really just thought it was just a fantastic opportunity. I’ve never done anything like this before and it’s been quite incredible actually.
Thanks very much! I’ve actually had some of the best reviews I’ve ever had for it which is really nice… I’ve wanted to make a swing album for a long time and then there was all those Robbie Williams and Westlife records doing the Sinatra thing and I didn’t want to do that. I wanted to hit people like Billy Eckstein, Sarah Vaughan, Mel Torme, Tony Bennett, Jack Jones people like that, and just take a different approach really. We got the London Symphony Orchestra to do the strings on it, and some of the finest swing guys in the country.
I’m really, really pleased with it, I did it all through my own company and it came out as a joint venture with Curb and we’re about to bring it out in Japan and Germany and Scandinavia now, and there’s interest from the Americans as well.
Yeah, just before Christmas, and we’re going to do festivals in the summer – as many as we can, and a lot abroad actually, all the big jazz festivals. It’s a completely different departure for me but it’s been really good fun because I’ve always liked that sort of music. There’s still a long way to go, we’re releasing ‘Wives & Lovers’ as a single which kind of ties in with ‘Chicago’. So I’m working really hard but I’m really pleased with the way things are going. I’ve just got to work out where I’m going to go on the next album now!
Well, if you asked me to play Caractacus Potts in ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’ – even though it’s my favourite film – I would have to say… I would have to politely decline! I don’t necessarily want a career in the West End, at the end of the day that’s not where I’m at! But the timing of it, with the album and the fact that it’s such a cool part, all tied in very nicely. Listen; if they wanted me to go and do a month on Broadway then it would be rude to say no! But we’ll see what happens…
I don’t know… I haven’t really got a clue, but I can tell by the clapping that there’s a lot of fans!
Well, there’s more promotion for the album and then the festivals. Me and Pete Cox are thinking about doing a big tour, a fun Christmas tour – that’s something we’re just talking about at the moment – but that would be just a fun, party sort of tour. I’ve really got to get cracking on the next album and there’s some talk of maybe doing ‘Chicago’ in a couple of other places… so there’s lots of interesting things coming through! I’m also desperate to get into America, desperate to get over there…
I can’t see it to be honest I really can’t. The thing is – the thing that people don’t realise – is that although I’ve got the autobiography out, I’ve done all the interviews relating to the court case and everything there were an awful lot of things that went on personally behind the scenes that I couldn’t write about and could never appear in a book or in interviews, and those things are the issues that would have to be resolved and even then I’m not sure… I think it all went too far and it got very personal and very nasty which affected the people around me and I don’t know if I can really forgive that. I think it’s a terrible shame… if everyone had acted in the spirit in which I think they should have acted – that was very diplomatic wasn’t it! – Then undoubtedly we would have made an album and done stuff, had a good time and would be firm friends to this day. It’s a shame but I really think there are just too many issues to be resolved.
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