Interview with Lee Mead
Our interviewee this week shot to fame through one of Britain’s favourite things: a TV talent show. From 10,000 people he was picked to be one of 12 possible Josephs in the 2007 televisual gem Any Dream Will Do where Andrew Lloyd Webber was searching for the next star of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat. Naturally, he kicked the other 11 wannabees’ butts and his run as Joseph had to be extended because people just had to see him in that colourful coat.
We are, of course, talking about the lovely Lee Mead. Musical theatre performer and actor, he has starred in everything from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang to Holby City and now he is embarking on his very own autobiographical tour, giving audiences the chance to listen to him chat about the magical moments and memories of his career so far and – more importantly – sing some of the songs which have brought him fame and fortune.
We grabbed him this week for a quick chat.
What did you want to be as a kid? Was singing and performing always the dream?
No, actually, I wanted to be a school teacher! I love working with kids and I was really inspired by my own teachers. After my first job I didn’t work for nine months and considered teaching again but then I got my next job which was a summer season singing and I haven’t stopped working since.
You shot to fame after appearing on Any Dream Will Do, can you tell us a little bit more about the experience?
It was wonderful working with Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Weber first-hand, as I grew up listening to their music. And it was great to have the experiences I had – to sing at Wembley Stadium, get a record deal and all the things that have happened since.
Having been used to performing on-stage in a theatre, did you find that you needed to alter your performance style massively for TV?
The main difference is that I can’t break into Close Every Door on Holby City… I think it might shock a few of my patients!
How do you feel being “discovered” on TV has shaped your career? Did it make certain things harder? Or easier?
It gave me a bigger platform to show people what I could do, and it has improved me as an actor as a result of those opportunities that were presented.
As well as singing on stage and acting on TV, you have toured and recorded a whopping five albums – what are your most and least favourite parts of each of these elements of your job?
The most enjoyable part is going out and performing live to an audience. But, there is no real downside to the recording side of the business – I really enjoy that process as well.
Any hilarious on-stage – or, better still – backstage stories you can share with us?
A couple of years ago during one of my Christmas shows in the West End I had invested in what I thought was a state-of-the-art snow machine to create a Christmassy atmosphere, but it wouldn’t switch off and the front few rows got absolutely soaked. Several people popped open their umbrellas which made it even funnier.
Do you have a dream role that you haven’t been able to play yet? If so – what is it, and why?
The Phantom in Phantom of the Opera has always been a dream role of mine, but I would also love to be a part of a brand-new TV drama one day.
You must be so used to performing as a character by now – is it scarier to get up in front of people as yourself in a show like this one?
I wouldn’t say scary but yes, I was a little nervous before the first night of this tour as I haven’t put out a show like this before.
What made you decide to do this “stripped down” tour? And why should people come see it?
I was asked to write a biography a few years back, around the Joseph period, but I thought it was too soon so decided to do this show as a way of telling my story and giving people more of an insight into who I am.
And if you really want to get to know who Lee is – you better buy a ticket! Lee Mead: My Story kicks off on March 10th, and you can find all of the dates here.