My chat with… Jai McDowall

Jai McDowall, #whatkatydidUK

A journey through musicals: Jai McDowall

Since winning Britain’s Got Talent in 2011, Jai McDowall has more than kept himself busy.

Performing for royalty at the Queen’s Jubilee, releasing an album, headlining his own tour and travelling the world singing on cruise ships are just some of the things this Scottish lad has been up to.

Now he’s staring in Mad About Musicals with musical theatre’s Michael Courtney. The show, which comes to the Towngate Theatre tonight takes audiences on a whistlestop tour from the heart of London’s theatreland to the glitz of Broadway.

But what can we expect from Jai?

“There’s honestly something for everyone,” the 31-year-old singer says.
“There’s all the, what I’d call, classic musical songs, and then some newer ones in there too. Like some songs from Wicked. And Disney!

“There’s such a wide variety of songs, you don’t even really have to be a big fan of musicals for there to be something you know.

“I try not to just sing the songs, but to also take on a bit of the character too. It’s quite funny at one point because I’m singing all sheepish… and then I go off stage come back on and I’m this super cocky character.

“It’s fun. It’s a really fun, for-all-the-family-type show. And the audiences so far seem to have loved it. They’ve said we’ve had them in tears with some of the more emotional songs…”

With numbers from Rodgers & Hammerstein, Kander & Ebb, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Boublil & Schonberg, did Jai ever feel a little worried?

“There are a couple of ones that I was kind of like “whaaaat” at first,” he chuckles.

“One has Latin in it. I thought it was Spanish. And I don’t know Spanish or Latin. So I did panic a bit about that at first. I had to phone my old language teacher and ask him how to translate it and also how to sing it. But I love that one now. It’s one of my favourites in the show…”

And the touring? This show has a far from small run with some 34-dates on it. How is he finding it?

“The great thing about theatre work is you become like a family. You really do. I’ve done panto too and that’s the same. You all get very close very quickly. Which makes it so much easier and much more fun. Though I do miss my dog – he’s a real lovable wee guy.”

Life has totally changed for Jai since his success on the fifth series of BGT, and he’s more than humble when chatting about it.

“The show opened doors for me and gave me some opportunities that I’d never otherwise have had,” he says. “My life is totally different to where I was before then.

“Though when I come home everything is just the same really. The only things is, I come back and everyone else has to go to work and there’s me sat at home!”

Mad About Musicals is at the Towngate Theatre, St Martins Square, Basildon on Wednesday, October 11 at 7.30pm. For tickets, call the box office on 01268 465465.

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