20 Questions With...Stephen Gately
Date: 31 March 2003
Pop singer turned musical star Stephen Gately, who recently made his West End debut in Joseph & the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, compares audience reactions to Boyzone versus Andrew Lloyd Webber.
Date & place of birth
Born in Dublin on St Patrick’s Day, 17 March 1976.
Lives now in...
I'm based in Ireland but am living in Covent Garden while I do Joseph.
I didn't have any formal training. I did some dancing in Dublin and also taught dance for free to kids. When I decided to do Joseph, I did have some vocal training for the first time.
First big career break
Definitely Boyzone. Before that I had done bits and pieces, but I went to that audition when I was 17 and it all went mad and the good times rolled.
Career highlights to date
Winning the Ivor Novello award was a big thing for us (Boyzone). I love awards, especially ones voted by the public as they mean a great deal more for me. We also performed with Pavarotti and the Bee Gees. They were both very special. Seeing the world and living the high life with Boyzone was also a highlight - we had flash cars and flash hotels.
Having performed with a band, launched a solo career & now taken on theatre, which have you found most enjoyable or challenging?
I take everything as it comes. With Boyzone, we just didn't stop for eight years. Musical theatre was always something I wanted to do and I did have opportunities before. Joseph came along, and it just felt right. It's fun and a family-oriented show, which was important to me. It's also as camp as a row of tents.
Favourite productions/concerts you've ever worked on
Boyzone tours were really good. We got stuck in there, and I did the choreography and the styling and everything. We threw a lot of money at them and they looked great. You are playing to 15,000 people every night. I loved doing Absolutely Fabulous, too. Jennifer Saunders is great and she asked me to do it. I just loved it.
All of Boyzone, obviously, but the performers here are a great fun bunch of people. We hang out together as well as work together, and I really like that.
What roles would you most like to play still?
I just take whatever comes my way and see if I want to do it at the time. There is one film role I'd really like to do, though. It is a cameo in one of the Harry Potter films, a character called Aidan Lynch - he's the captain of the Irish Quidditch team.
What's the main difference in performing on stage as a pop singer versus in a musical?
At pop concerts, you have people screaming at you all of the time. In the theatre, it feels very different because you do get some screaming and dancing and everything, but you also get people really listening to what it is you are singing about. I love that.
How else do you find the audience reaction differs?
Joseph is a real rollercoaster of a show, and I think people see a different side to me, which I like. There are two Josephs: the young Joseph and the important Joseph. And I like the fact that people can see me in a rage, as they tend to think of me as cutesy little Stephen.
What's the best thing you've seen on stage recently?
I saw The Lion King a couple of weeks ago, which I really really enjoyed. I'd seen it in New York already, but this (London) production is great, too. I am working every day apart from Sunday, which means I am pretty restricted to what I can see. Bombay Dreams is on on a Sunday, I think, so I'll probably see that in a week or two.
What advice would you give the government to secure the future of British theatre?
Theatregoing is a lot about tourism and getting people to come to the shows, and there aren't a lot of people travelling at the moment. So if I could suggest one thing, it would be to stop this war. Other than that, it is all about promotion of the industry and making sure people know what's on.
If you hadn't become a performer, what would you have done professionally?
I never thought about anything other than performing. Obviously, if I couldn't I'd have to do something to survive, but I don't know what.
If you could swap places with one person (living or dead) for a day, who would it be?
I'd be President Bush so I could stop the war.
All the Harry Potter books and I'm just re-reading The Lord of the Rings. I love fantasy in books. You just dive in and are in another world.
Favourite holiday destinations
I love Mauritius - it's an amazing place. I like Bahrain, too, and Amsterdam. In America, I think New York is my favourite city.
I don't have a specific site I like the most. I spend a lot of time on Amazon, though, as I buy a lot of DVDs and books and stuff.
Why did you want to accept your part in Joseph?
When I was offered it I thought, "Yes, I'll give it a bash." I hadn't seen the show before, and when I knew I was doing it, I deliberately didn't see it or listen to any recordings as I didn't want to be accused of copying any other performer's way of doing it.
What's your favourite number from or aspect of Joseph?
I love singing "Close Every Door". People can see a different side to me. I also love the angel costume as that always gets a laugh, and I do love the inflatable sheep.
What's the funniest/oddest/most notable thing that's happened in the run to date?
I did forget the words once in the middle of "Close Every Door", and of course, it is very very emotional, and I was thinking, "what do I do now?". Luckily, I just looked at the musical director, and he mouthed the words to me and I got back on track.
What are your plans for the future?
I just take things as they come. I don't know what I'll be doing next. I have been approached about presenting a couple of TV shows, but it isn't really my thing. I like singing and acting and performing - more of that is what I want to do next.
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is playing at the New London Theatre.