Former Chichester schoolboy Jonathan Ansell, the sensational voice on over two million albums, sits back to chat breakfast TV-style on his latest tour, with a date lined up at Littlehampton’s Windmill Theatre on November 11.
The former Bishop Luffa School pupil will be performing some of the songs he has made his own in a remarkable career which began when he shot to fame with pop-opera group G4 on The X Factor.
But he will also be sitting back on stage to chat about his career to date, with the night hosted by BBC Radio’s Paul Harris.
“There is a breakfast TV scenario on one side of the stage,” explains Jonathan. “We will be going through some of the scenes of my life and some of the funny stories that have happened to me.”
He will also be taking questions from the audience. In the past, they’ve been written down and vetted, but not this time: “That’s going to be the nerve-racking element! You never know what people are going to ask. I am sure that there are going to be some hard-core fans who will think outside the box. There will be some interesting questions. I might have to think of a party line for some!”
There will certainly be plenty to speak about, not least Jonathan’s dips into theatre in the past couple of years, first as the mystery man - played on film by Alan Bates - in Whistle Down The Wind in the new musical version; next came a stint in Lark Rise To Candleford, a stage tour directed by Barnham’s Joe Harmston.
“Whistle Down The Wind was my debut musical theatre role, and it far exceeded all my expectations. It was a great opportunity to really get my teeth into a big role.”
Bearded, bloody and decidedly scruffy, it was Jonathan as we hadn’t seen him before across eight shows a week across eight months.
“I was very nervous before the rehearsal stage. I had done G&S in the past but predominantly my career had been concerts and gigs, but thankfully the training from the Guildhall flowed back and it really did support me.”
These days sadly there are fewer musical openings, Jonathan says, with actors in the West End repeatedly renewing their contracts in difficult times for showbiz: “You see shows opening and closing. It’s all very tentative at the moment. It’s all been affected by the recession, though there are certain shows that are booming and flourishing, particularly the newer ones. But actors are renewing and renewing.”
In the meantime, he’s on the road with his Evening With show, on the back of a successful live recording from earlier this year: “I did a show at the Royal Albert Hall on Easter Sunday, and we recorded a live album from that show that is now in circulation at the end of shows. It’s like an exclusive album that people can pick up at the end of a gig,” says Jonathan who admits that the exclusivity of it is part of the appeal as far as he is concerned, particularly when coupled with the live feel, so unlike a more edited and produced recording.
“It’s a whole different experience for the audience”, says Jonathan who suspects eventually that he will give in and give it a wider distribution.