Any Dream Will Do winner Lee Mead took a break from gruelling rehearsals on Monday to answer questions about his upcoming appearance in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. He was joined by his leading lady, Bombay Dreams star Preeya Kalidas, who will play the role of the narrator in the new production. The show opens at the Adelphi Theatre next month and The Stage heard how rehearsals have been going so far and what Mead thinks of his new-found fame.
How has life been for you since winning the Any Dream Will Do competition?
It is really good. It has been a whirlwind since the final on that last Saturday. I did the video for the Any Dream Will Do single the day after and then on the Monday I was straight into rehearsals. Now I am just looking forward to being up there on stage.
You left an understudy role in The Phantom of the Opera to enter the competition. Was that a difficult choice to make?
I had a year contract with Phantom and these auditions came up four months into it. Those chances don’t come up very often so I thought I would go along and see what happened. When I got to last 12, I had to make decision to stay with Phantom or go with the programme. I am a strong believer that you need to take risks in your career and that is what has brought me this far. I thought I really want to play that role, why not go for it? It was risk because I had no job to go back to.
Did any of your friends think you were mad to give up the role in Phantom?
Friends in the industry were surprised because I may have got my first lead from Phantom. But I never knew if that would come and when that would be.
Do you think there is a stigma attached to talent shows like Any Dream Will Do, and does that worry you?
I suppose there is a stigma and it can worry me, but I have to focus on the job at hand. I kept my integrity and professionalism throughout the programme and I tried to keep my focus and treat it like any other audition – although it was a very long one.
Are you concerned by criticism that your West End experience gave you an unfair advantage in Any Dream Will Do?
That does not bother me. There were thousands of professional who auditioned – it was open to professional and amateurs.
Are you worried about how the press will scrutinise your performance, given the way they treated Connie Fisher?
The press can be quite cruel, but I will only be worried if I think I’m not ready for opening night. There is a lot going on at the moment with interviews and rehearsals, but if I know I am as polished and as ready as I can be – and that I do my best – that is all that matters. Not everyone will like me and that is something I have to accept.
Why do you think Any Dream Will Do did so much better than ITV’s Grease is the Word?
We got a lot more ratings because there was a real truth about the show. I knew it would be loved because it was a good format and there was a great panel of judges on it. Plus Andrew Lloyd Webber was involved.
How much say did you have in the songs you sang each week?
The songs chosen for us and I was singing stuff I would not normally choose, so it could have gone really bad. Luckily I have a voice that can adapt and I try and take each challenge as it comes. In the final I was worried about the Elvis number because I had never sung one of his before. It went okay though.
Would you do another talent search show like Any Dream Will Do?
I would not do this again. This show was the right time and the right show for me because my background is musical theatre. I knew I was ready for it and that I could withstand the media. I am sure in the future I would do more television work, but I cannot see myself going through this type of show again. It’s a once in a lifetime thing.
Are you used to the attention?
I have got used to it – you have to be yourself and go with it and take it in your stride. But I am not here for the fame – I am here for the show.
How did you land the role of the narrator in the forthcoming production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat?
I met Lloyd Webber a few months ago when he asked to see me. I performed A Pharaoh’s Story for him from the show. I had performed the song when I was a kid and it suddenly came back to me. Following that, he asked me if I would like to play the role, which was quite overwhelming really. Normally, you would go through a whole process and they would see you ten times – especially with the part I have that is so key for the production.
You knew you had the part before a Joseph was chosen. Did you want Lee to win?
There were so many talented guys on the show and I was intrigued to see how they would narrow it down. But I noticed Lee from his first audition and thought he was fantastic. Joseph has to have vulnerability about him because you see his journey from a young boy to a man. Lee has those qualities of innocence.
How do you view criticism of shows like Any Dream Will Do?
The great thing about the television show is that it has brought a new audience to theatre – it gives the public the chance to see the talent and when they come to see the show they feel like they know that person. It reignites the West End and gives people the chance to see what it is about and get into the shows.