Pop star Gareth Gates is to replace Lee Mead when the Any Dream Will Do winner leaves the cast of Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat in the new year.
Mead hangs up his loincloth on 10 January, with Gates taking over dream interpreting duties on 9 February. The intervening period will see current understudy Ricky Rojas play the famous role.
Gates’s arrival on the Adelphi stage was announced at a press conference earlier today, putting an end to months of speculation that has seen names including High School Musical’s Zac Efron and former Blue Peter presenter Gethin Jones touted as possible successors to the hugely popular Mead.
Speaking at the press conference, Gates said: “Joseph is something I’ve always wanted to do ever since I was a kid. The first time I was ever on stage I was Joseph at my first school. So for me to be here now on the West End stage, being Joseph, it’s the most amazing feeling, it really is.”
When Gates does don the famous coat, which he today noted was much heavier than he expected, it will be a case of one reality television star replacing another in the lead role of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s popular musical.
Mead won the part by triumphing in the BBC1 search for a musical theatre star Any Dream Will Do in 2007.
Gates shot to fame in 2002, when he finished runner-up to Will Young in the first series of Pop Idol. Since then he has released three albums, scored four number one singles and appeared on celebrity skating show Dancing On Ice. Gates made his West End debut earlier this year, when he took part in the one night only celebration A Spoonful Of Stiles And Drewe, in which he played the part of Robbie in a preview of the musical theatre creators’ newest piece Soho Cinders.
Before he takes to the Adelphi stage, however, Gates is playing Prince Charming in the New Wimbledon theatre’s 2008 pantomime Cinderella, opposite Alistair McGowan and Joanna Page. There will be no rest for Gates in between the two projects, as when he finishes slapping his thigh and wondering who’s behind him in panto on 18 January, he goes straight into rehearsals for Joseph.
Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, which is currently booking at the Adelphi theatre until 18 July 2009, was the first musical created by the partnership of Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. Based on the biblical tale, it tells of Joseph, the favourite son of Jacob, who is given a fabulous coat of many colours. His jealous brothers see fit to dispose of him, which starts Joseph on a journey that will see him rise to become more powerful than even he thought possible.
Gates will not be the first pop star to wear the multi-coloured jacket. He follows in the footsteps of Jason Donovan, Donny Osmond, Boyzone’s Stephen Gately and Steps’s Ian ‘H’ Watkins. He was quick to state that this foray into musical theatre does not mark the end of his pop career, but that he is “having a rest from that side of things”.