Whatsonstage.com Northeast took the opportunity to catch up with Jonathan Ansell during rehearsals for his performance as The Beast, in Beauty and the Beast, which plays the Journal Tyne Theatre later this month.

Most people will recall Jonathan, shot to fame with pop opera group G4 on the first series of The X Factor. But he has established himself as a bona fide solo star, since the group decided to split. Already he has achieved a debut solo album that not only topped the classical charts, but also hit the top ten of the pop charts. On top of this he has also made quite an impression in the theatre, with a tour of the Mikado, before receiving critical acclaim for his portrayal of The Man in Bill Kenwright’s production of Whistle Down the Wind. This was followed by his first straight acting role as Boamer in the new stage adaptation of Lark Rise to Candleford, directed by Joe Harmston.

Jonathan did admit he is finding rehearsals fun, but tiring, due to the energy of the other members of the cast. But he does feel odd that he is hidden within the Beats costume for 90% of his performance and it is only when he appears as The Prince that the audience actually see him. However the transformation scene, where he changes from the Beast has yet to be tackled in rehearsals, but he did assure us it would be spectacular.

Thinking back to his performance with G4 at The City Hall, Newcastle, Jonathon confirmed he found the reaction quite insane and having been in the audience that night we can totally agree. But he does find audience reactions change across the Country, with the North East being wilder, Southern audiences more relaxed and in the West Country they are just pleased to have someone there.

Following Beauty and the Beast he has his own 24 date tour lined up, containing a trip down memory lane and G4 classics. Then a TV show with Stacey Solomon and Keith Lemon called Sing If You Can, in which he is a contestant!

But he acknowledges that the success is down to the X Factor was he states was a brilliant experience. It gave him opportunities he could only have dreamt of a few years before when he was a student and to make ends meet started busking in Covent Garden with friends.

While his dream is to work with Elton John, he currently has enough on his plate, as apart from Beauty And The Beast, he is taking part in the London Marathon on April 17th (he is ambassador for Breast Cancer Care). While in his private life he became a father, only last November, to Sienna, so his golf is firmly on the back burner for the foreseeable future.

You can see Jonathan as The Beast, in Beauty and the Beast, which plays the Journal Tyne Theatre from 27 April to 2 May.