Former X Factor star Rhydian admits he’s delighted to take a starring role in Little Shop of Horrors, which comes to the Garrick next week.
The singer will play dentist Orin Scrivello in the cult musical, which runs at the city theatre from September 20 to 24.
It’s a far cry from his days trying to impress the judges on the TV singing contest, but Rhydian insists he feels far more at home on the stage.
“Musicals were always my passion growing up,” he said. “The main reason I went on television was so that casting directors would see me so I could be on the stage. I never thought in a million years that I would get a recording contract.
“Theatre has been, and still is, my biggest love and the way I sing is quite theatrical, so that helped me to be seen for roles.”
Since his 2007 appearance on the X Factor, Rhydian has enjoyed appearances in the likes of We Will Rock You and the Rocky Horror Show.
He has also starred in a touring production of Grease – and while the prospect of continually being on the move around the country may not appeal to some, the singer admits he gets a thrill taking shows like Little Shop of Horrors to new places.
“I love the fact you get different audiences each time,” he explained. “I really enjoy seeing how they change with each place.
“The further north you go, the more vocal the reaction. It’s fascinating for an actor to experience that.
“I don’t enjoy the arduous task of finding digs and booking hotels, but that’s the small price you pay for doing an amazing job that you love.”
Although Rhydian received vocal training in South Africa during his earlier years, he lays much of the credit for his talent to his homeland.
“I was born and bred in Wales, the land of song,” he said. “Growing up, we were always encouraged to compete in singing competitions, which were a big part of the culture in Wales. Essentially, you perform a song for a panel and I learnt very quickly to stand up and sing in front of people – I liked the attention to be honest.
“When I was 14, my mum took me to see an opera in my town. As soon as I get home, I started to mimic the sounds I heard in that beautiful opera and my parents said ‘you’ve got a sound there’, so I started getting professional tuition. Then, for my gap year, I went to South Africa and was trained by one of the best tenors in the country.”
Little Shop of Horrors is a musical comedy which tells the story of Seymour Krelborn who becomes an overnight sensation when he discovers a strange and exotic plant. He names it Audrey Two in order to impress glamorous Audrey, the colleague he’s secretly in love with.
But when the plant quickly starts to wilt, it puts Seymour’s job and dream future with Audrey at risk. Accidentally pricking his finger, Seymour discovers Audrey Two needs a little more than plant food to thrive – only to discover the plant grows into a bad-tempered, foul-mouthed carnivore whose voracious appetite becomes increasingly difficult to satisfy.
Rhydian added: “Little Shop of Horrors is iconic. Everyone knows the awesome soundtrack.
“Interestingly, I first auditioned for the part of Seymour, but I thought that the dentist was much more up my street. I’m pleased I said that, because now here I am playing a part that really suits me.
“I’m a sadistic dentist who’s a bit of a bad boy. I wear leathers and ride a motorbike. I am deeply insecure, but I mask that with a swaggering bravado and by hurting people, especially in the dentist chair.
“There’s a scene between me and Seymour where I laugh myself to death. I want to give him an oral examination and I use my giggle gas mask and it gets stuck. I asphyxiate and laugh myself to death. It is lots of fun to do.
“The company is great and extremely talented, so any moment on stage alongside them is brilliant.”
Tickets for Little Shop of Horrors range from £15 to £28.50 and can be booked by calling 01543 412121 or visiting lichfieldgarrick.com.