10 musical theatre performers who prove that X Factor is a valid route to stage stardom

It seems Simon Cowell is as good as finding musical theatre stars as he is at chart-toppers

Lucie Jones, Joe McElderry and Diana Vickers
Lucie Jones, Joe McElderry and Diana Vickers
© Dan Wooller for WhatsOnStage

It was recently announced that 2016 X Factor winner Matt Terry will play Alex the Lion in Selladoor's UK tour of Madagascar. Which got us thinking, how many of our favourite musical theatre stars got their break on Simon Cowell's annual search for a chart-topper?

1. Cassie Compton

The very first series in 2004 featured a 17 year-old Compton, who was eliminated in week five and told by Simon Cowell that she was more suited to the West End. Well he was right and she's gone on to star in the West End productions of Les Misérables and Wicked, as well as American Psycho at the Almeida and the recent UK tour of The Wedding Singer.

2. Brenda Edwards

Edwards made it all the way to week nine before being eliminated in series two, which was eventually won by Shayne Ward. She went on to play Mama Morton in the West End production of Chicago in 2007 and has since starred in Carmen Jones, We Will Rock You and Hairspray.

3. Ray Quinn

Quinn was runner-up in 2006 losing out to Leona Lewis. Prior to his time on X Factor, Quinn was a regular on Brookside and returned to acting in 2009 playing Danny Zuko in Grease. Other stage roles include several pantomimes as well as lead roles in UK tours of Dirty Dancing, Legally Blonde, and The Wedding Singer. He is currently starring in the tour of Summer Holiday.

4. Alexandra Burke

In 2008 Alexandra Burke became the fifth winner of X Factor, beating Eoghan Quigg and boyband JLS, going on to top the charts with singles "Bad Boys" and "Start Without You". In 2014 she made her West End debut, taking over from Beverley Knight as Rachel Marron in The Bodyguard, a role she continued to play in the musical's extensive UK tour. She then played Deloris Van Cartier in the UK tour of Sister Act, before returning to the West End this year to play Svetlana in the revival of Chess at the London Coliseum.

5. Diana Vickers

Also in 2008, 16 year-old Diana Vickers from Blackburn walked bare-footed onto the X Factor stage and ended up a semi-finalist. The following year she made her acting debut in the West End revival of Jim Cartwright's The Rise and Fall of Little Voice. She returned to the West End In 2013 to star alongside Ben Miller and Nancy Carroll in Duck House. And in 2015 she played Janet in the UK tour of The Rocky Horror Show. She most recently starred in Dusty Springfield musical Son of a Preacher Man.

6. Lucie Jones

Jones booked herself a place on the live finals in the sixth series of X Factor with a stirring performance of Whitney Houston's I Will Always Love You. After crashing out of the competition in eighth place she turned her sights on the stage and has since had starring roles in the West End productions of Les Misérables, We Rock You as well as tours of Legally Blonde, The Wedding Singer, Rent and Ghost. She's also due to appear in LMTO's concert staging of Howard Goodall's Girlfriends opposite Lauren Samuels in November.

7. Joe McElderry

18 year-old McElderry won the sixth series of X Factor in 2009. His winner's single "The Climb" went straight to the top of the charts but lost out on the Christmas number one to Rage Against The Machine. Most recently he has been touring the UK in the title role of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and has other theatre credits including The Who's Tommy and several pantomimes.

8. Lloyd Daniels

2009 was clearly a strong year for potential musical theatre performers with Daniels voted out in week eight. He made his musical debut in 2014, also playing Joseph in the UK tour. Later this year, he'll star opposite Natasha Hamilton in new musical Closets at the Hope Mill Theatre.

9. Matt Cardle

In perhaps the biggest case of the X Factor winner's curse, Matt Cardle won series seven over One Direction. Matt parted ways with Syco the following year and the boy band went on to world domination. However, four years later Cardle made his West End debut in Memphis, and boy did he do well! Matt can now be seen in the West End production of Strictly Ballroom, having taken over the role of Wally from another reality show winner – Will Young.

10. Amelia Lily

Series eight saw Amelia Lily finish third behind Marcus Collins and girl band Little Mix. A few years later she replaced Collins in the UK tour of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. She made her West End debut in 2015 starring as Whatsername in Green Day's American Idiot. She's currently playing Princess Fiona in the UK tour of Shrek the Musical.