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Loserville, West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds, June 18 to July 14; Legally Blonde, Grand Opera House, York, September 4 to 8
YORKSHIREMAN Gareth Gates is returning north to star in the first of two roles on home turf in quick succession.
The Bradford singer turned musical star, who finished runner-up to Will Young ten years ago in the first Pop Idol showdown, will play rich kid Eddie in the new British musical Loserville.
Written by Elliot Davis and James Bourne, the Busted and Son Of Dork musician and songwriter, the show takes to the West Yorkshire Playhouse stage on Monday in a “musical mash-up about dating, binary and staying true to your dreams”.
“It’s great to be in it because you’re working on a brand new piece and that allows you to play about with your character and make it what I think it should be, because you’re not filling someone else’s shoes,” says Gareth.
“Working with the director Steven Dexter and writers, it’s just wonderful to be involved in the creative process. I feel very privileged to be involved.”
Inspired by Son of Dork’s album Welcome To Loserville, the musical involves the American high school Class of 1971 reaching their senior year. Michael (Aaron Sidwell), Lucas (Richard Lowe) and Francis (Lil’ Chris) are about to revolutionise the world when a new complication enters their life: girls.
The brilliantly clever and stunningly beautiful Holly (Eliza Hope Bennett) arrives in town, but no sooner does Michael think all his dreams seem to be coming true, than arch nemesis Eddie (Gates’s character) has his sights on stealing Michael’s perfect girl and taking all the credit for his world-changing ideas.
“I’ve played Joseph in Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and Marius in Les Miserables in the West End, and since then I’ve got the bug for theatre, and Loserville is my first ‘action role’ in that I don’t do that much singing. My role is very dialogue heavy,” says Gareth.
“I’ve done a few shows before but nothing to this extent in terms of dialogue and that’s been really liberating – and I’m finding that my old speech issues have not been an issue at all.”
Since his Pop Idol appearances brought the issue of stammering to the fore, Gareth has addressed that speech impediment and the impact of The King’s Speech, it’s made it easier for stammer sufferers,” he says. “At least more people know about it now and it’s not alien to them.”
Loserville runs at the West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds, from Monday to July 14. Box office: 0113 213 7700 or wyp.org.uk
• GARETH Gates will follow up Loserville at the West Yorkshire Playhouse by joining the national tour of Legally Blonde The Musical.
He will visit the Grand Opera House, York, in the role of ruthless, callous Warner from September 4 to 8, joined by Brookside soap star Jennifer Ellison as salon boss Paulette.
“I’m playing a villain for the first time in Loserville, so I’m really having to act, and when Loserville finishes on July 14, I’ll start in Legally Blonde on July 16, after a one-day break, and I’ll be rehearsing for it during the Loserville run,” says Gareth.
“I’ll be playing Warner, who’s pretty much the same as Eddie! Warner calls off the engagement, so again I’m the villain. I’m in fear of being typecast.” Jennifer last appeared on a North Yorkshire stage in Calendar Girls at the Futurist Theatre in Scarborough last September.
Faye Brooks will be playing Elle Woods, as she did when the show first toured the Opera House last July, while Iwan Lewis, who has appeared in Fame in the West End, will be Emmett. Further casting will be announced soon for the production directed by the Tony and Olivier Award-winning Jerry Mitchell.
Should you have missed the original film or the musical spin-off, in Legally Blonde Elle Woods can handle anything. So, when her boyfriend, Warner, dumps her, she decides to follow him to Harvard Law School and win him back.
Aided by new-found friends Paulette, Emmett and her Chihuahua Bruiser, she learns that it is so much better to be smart.
Tickets for the 7.30pm evening shows and Thursday and Saturday matinees can be booked on 0844 871 3024 or online at atgtickets.com/york