A Dream come true for Joseph man Craig

EMMA LEE Despite not making the grand final of the TV show Any Dream Will Do, Craig Chalmers still won the chance to wear Joseph’s Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat in a touring production of the popular musical, which is at King’s Lynn Corn Exchange next week. EMMA LEE spoke to him.

EMMA LEE

When Craig Chalmers was voted off the TV talent show Any Dream Will Do, his ambition of wearing Joseph's Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat could have been in tatters.

Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber had been leading the search to find an unknown leading man to play one of musical theatre's most famous characters in the West End.

Lee Mead went on to win the coveted role - but later it emerged that the show had, in fact, found two Josephs and that the dream wasn't over for the 25-year-old from Edinburgh.

Impresario Bill Kenwright, who was one of the programme's judges and made no secret of his admiration for Craig's talent, chose him to play the leading role in a touring production of the show.

Now he's got his own coat of many colours and is playing to packed theatres around the country, including a sold-out five-night run at the Corn Exchange, King's Lynn, from Monday to Saturday, September 17-22.

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Grabbing a quick chat during rehearsals, he's clearly in his element.

Craig is new to musical theatre, having cut his teeth on the cabaret circuit.

Before taking part in Any Dream Will Do, chiselled, blond-haired Craig performed with a male strip troupe called G-Force. But he didn't bare all - he would sing while his colleagues would do the honours.

He's also worked at holiday parks and was part of a boyband called No Reason who performed alongside some of pop's biggest names, including Blue, McFly, Sugababes and Girls Aloud.

If Craig looked familiar to Any Dream Will Do fans, then it's not really a surprise. It wasn't actually Craig's first experience of TV talent shows. In 2003 he took part in Pop Idol - it was the year that fellow Scot Michelle McManus walked off with the recording contract.

“I've been singing for as long as I can remember,” says Craig, who lists Stevie Wonder, Amy Winehouse and Usher among his favourite artists.

“I'm the only one in my family to go into music. I used to go on the karaoke when I was a young boy, and realised I could sing. I took part in school shows and decided I wanted to try and make some money from it and get a career from it.

“I started on the cabaret circuit when I was about 18. I was doing that for six or seven years and built up a reputation in Scotland. It was really hard work. And I got to a point where there was only so far I could go doing it for myself and I needed some sort of break. And I got it,” he says.

The years of hard slog on the cabaret circuit will have been good training for the Joseph tour - he's got a gruelling five months on the road ahead of him, with the option to extend it to a year.

“Any Dream Will Do was such an emotional experience,” Craig reflects. “It was a huge competition and the prize was tremendous. We knew we were singing not only for the studio audience, but seven or eight million people were watching. And the cameras catch you at vulnerable moments,” he adds.

He says that he's really enjoying getting under the skin of his character.

“Bill Kenwright gave me great support - he said that I captured the essence of the character,” he says. “Joseph goes on a journey. He starts out being a bit gullible and he does a lot of learning. And as an actor you have to change accordingly.”

Although he beat him to the chance to play a West End leading man - and with Kenwright's support it's surely only a matter of time before he sees his name up in lights in the capital - Craig has nothing but admiration for Mead.

“I went to the press night of Joseph and met up with him for dinner. We were good friends. I would have chosen Lee to win - after myself, of course. He's a nice guy,” he says.

t www.kingslynncornexchange.co.uk

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