Keith Jack is probably best-known for finishing second on BBC 1’s Any Dream Will Do but his theatre credits since leaving the show are impressive: the Narrator and Joseph in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat; Charlie in Only The Brave; Alistair in Sincerely, Mr Toad; Ralph Rackstraw in HMS Pinafore and Sparky in Forever Plaid. Here he talks to the Reviews Hub about his new album Movie Nights and his up-coming tour.
Some former talent show contestants claim that the process leaves them feeling manipulated and exploited. Did your experience in Any Dream Will Do make you feel that way?
No, not at all. We were kind of moulded and helped and nurtured to be the kind of performer that Andrew Lloyd Webber wanted. I never felt as though I was just a cog in a money-making wheel.
An amazing 21 million viewers tuned into the final of the series, in June 2007, and Lee Mead went on to wow the West End critics as Joseph in Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s musical. But you couldn’t even console yourself with the prospect of performing the role in the touring production of the show. That opportunity had already been offered to Craig Chalmers, who finished fifth in the competition. Surely, you must have been gutted and, perhaps, even a little resentful?
Not at all. I was actually still competing in the programme when Craig was eliminated and was offered the part of Joseph.
To prove that you held no hard feelings, you accepted the role of Narrator in the touring version, alongside Craig Chalmers, as Joseph, and fellow competitor Chris Barton, who finished in eighth place, as Benjamin. Tell me about that?
I loved it. And, actually, it’s a bigger singing role than Joseph.
They say, though, that everything comes to he who waits and, eventually, you got to actually play the role that you competed for. How did that feel?
It was just a really nice feeling to finally get to do it. I was able to relax and settle into it a lot easier than I would have done if I’d come to it straight from the show. We had some great audiences on the tour and it was nice to see all different parts of the country.
Was it difficult learning to cope with the instant fame that is often the result of such shows.
At first it was strange. You don’t change as a person but everyone else changes around you. It’s very strange to walk down the street and have people following you and trying to take your picture.
Tell me what has been happening in your career lately?
I have just finished touring with Joe McElderry in the Saturday Night at the Movies tour and have also completed my brand new album Movie Nights. Right now, I’m enjoying being busy preparing for the forthcoming tour to promote the album.
What are your favourite tracks on the new album and why did you select them?
I love So Close from Disney’s Enchanted. That song comes at such a lovely moment in the film and it’s such a beautiful song. It’s not the best known song from the movie, but I performed it on the Saturday Night at the Movies tour and everyone seemed to love it. It’s strange that people recognise the song but don’t know where from. I also really like the arrangement that my MD, Scott Morgan, came up with for I Just Called To Say I Love You. Stevie Wonder’s original version has a happy, upbeat feel to it. I have chosen to perform it as a more melancholic ballad – it almost sounds as though it could be a sad lullaby. I think it’s nice to change the arrangement when performing a cover version, rather than just trying to replicate the original.
How do you feel you have matured, musically, in the past decade?
I’m partly the same performer as I was. However, I feel that my voice and, indeed, my performances are more structured and mature. People tell me that I’ve not lost any of the charm, fun and vibrancy of my younger years. I think I have just grown up, that’s all. I now think that I know myself inside out as a performer.
Does it make a lot of difference to be able to choose your own material now, rather than having songs and themes chosen for you?
It makes a massive difference. A lot of the stuff I performed in Any Dream Will Do, I would not have chosen for myself. That said, it taught me to experiment with different styles and to take chances and stretch my boundaries. It’s liberating not to have to pick songs with the sole intention of pleasing the public. That has pushed me on so far.
Keith’s tour takes him to the Brunton Theatre Musselburgh on 20 October, Wild Cabaret, Glasgow on 22 October, Hazlitt Theatre, Maidstone on 29 October and Pizza Express Live, Birmingham on 2 November 2017.
Details at Keith Jack’s website.