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. Continue reading

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My chat with… Maureen Nolan

Maureen Nolan, Footloose, Katy Pearson, Essex, #whatkatydidUK

Footloose: Maureen Nolan as Vi Moore (c) Matt Martin

THIS tour of Footloose the Musical has been more than a little bit emotional for Maureen Nolan.

The 63-year-old, who found fame as part of Irish sister band the Nolans, has had rather a lot on her plate while playing Vi Moore, in the musical coming to Basildon next month.

Indeed, it was actually mid-show that she realised her marriage to Ritchie Hoyle was over. Yet she’s not missed a single performance.

“Oh yeh, that was difficult,” she sighed, in her soft Irish burr.

“I didn’t miss a day because of it [the tour] though. I was very tempted…you know when you’re just so low, and our family, we’ve been through a lot recently with cancer and illness.

“But you’re either going to pull the covers over your head and never get out of bed or just get up and get on with it. Continue reading

My chat with… Gareth Gates

Gareth Gates, Katy Pearson, Footloose, #whatkatydidUK

Footloose – Gareth Gates as Willard (c) Matt Martin

WHEN I chat to Gareth Gates – star of Footloose – the Musical coming to Basildon’s Towngate Theatre on August 21 – he is fulsome in his praise of our county.

“I love Essex,” he confesses. “It’s a great place, fun. My best friend in the world, Matt, he lives in Essex. He lives in Southend, so I’ll be staying with him probably while I’m performing.”

In fact, it transpires he even owns a house here.

Six students at Rayleigh’s Masters Performing Arts College actually have the Pop Idol’s runner-up as their landlord.

“I own a house in Leigh-on-Sea – a student house,” he explains.

“Matt [Plummer] is the principle of Masters – the performing arts college – and I bought a house literally down the road from there in Leigh for the students.

“I’ve got six students living there.”

So, he’s no stranger to Southend or even Basildon – where he has performed before. Continue reading

My chat with… Milkshake’s Derek Moran

Derek Moran, Milkshake, Essex, Katy Pearson, #whatkatydidUK

From pop star to kid’s TV star: Milkshake’s Derek Moran

A DECADE ago, Derek Moran – one fifth of a popular boyband D-Side- blagged his way into a screen test for a children’s TV presenting job.

“A friend of mine said there’s this TV audition tomorrow for Milkshake,” he recalls, his enthusiastic Irish accent unmistakable to anyone with a child under six.

“And I was like what’s Milkshake, you know? So, I just phoned up. They asked me if I had a show reel and I said it was on VHS – which was a little white lie. And they said, ‘oh alright just come in tomorrow and screen test.’

“So, I went in the next day, which was Friday and they put me on the TV on the Monday. It was scary. But it was great.” Continue reading

My chat with… CBeebies’ Mister Maker aka Phil Gallagher

Phil Gallagher, Mister Maker, CBeebies, Katy Pearson, #whatkatydid

Dream job: Phil Gallagher as Mister Maker

Recognise this fella?

The mummies and daddies among you probably will.

Phil Gallagher has been on our children’s TV screens for almost 20 years. The past decade has seen him bringing arts and crafts to life, in his wonky waistcoat and bowtie, as CBeebies’ Mister Maker.

And Mister Maker – plus the Shapes – will be at the Towngate on Sunday, as part of a 44-theatre tour.

But as I chat to ever-enthusiastic presenter at his home in Kent, I have to ask, just where does Phil end and Mister Maker start? Continue reading