Ray Quinn has been pretty busy for a 19-year-old. Born and raised in Liverpool, Quinn regularly appeared on the Merseyside soap Brookside. In 2006 he really hit the spotlight by winning a place on the third series of reality television singing contest The X-Factor. After singing live every Saturday evening, Quinn finished in a very respectable second place, losing out to Leona Lewis. This didn’t hold the young crooner back and in March 2007 his debut album Doing It My Way shot to number one. Now Quinn is attempting to conquer the West End stage in the hit musical Grease. He tells Charlotte Marshall why he is so excited to put on his T-Birds leather jacket every night.
Congratulations, you’ve just joined the cast of Grease, how’s it all going?
RQ: It’s going absolutely fabulous, I love it to bits. I couldn’t think of doing anything better than I am now, I’m loving it.
You play T-Bird Doody, what’s he like?
RQ: Doody’s the fun loving, cheeky chappy, the youngest of the T-birds and he just looks up to Danny, he looks up to Kenickie and it’s basically just a great part to play. I’ve got two songs so Doody’s a great part to play.
Have you ever been in a musical before?
RQ: No, only in college [Ray attended Merseyside Dance And Drama College]. We did Grease and Saturday Night Fever in college and stuff like that. But not a proper West End gig you know, this is my first time. I’m a bit of a rookie, if you know what I mean!
Were you nervous about making your West End debut?
RQ: Not really, I’ve always done theatre practice and I’ve always just been taught the theatre ways really since I was three. I’ve always trained in that direction, if anything the X-Factor was new for me, so being on the stage now is like home really.
You’re the fourth reality TV star to go into Grease, was X-Factor good practice?
RQ: Yeah I’m very proud of the X-Factor, I always will be I think, and if I could do it again I would. I just love it to bits and it’s given me a great platform in life. Plenty of doors have opened and you just have to strive forward really.
And performing live on stage during that time must have been good practice?
RQ: Oh yeah, it’s amazing I love it. You lose a lot of weight! It’s great.
You lose weight? Is that due to nerves or working so hard?
RQ: No, just doing it every night, sweating every night – it’s like going to the gym every day for free. It’s great, and you get paid for it!
Is it tiring doing eight shows a week?
RQ: Not really, I mean obviously by the end of the week you’re like “Oh that was a big week”, but you get Sundays off, you get to chill out and start afresh on Monday so it’s not that bad at all.
How did you end up being a part of the show?
RQ: I’ve gone for a few auditions for the West End, but Grease is the one that I really, really wanted and I thought, you know, I’ll go for that. I got a phone call from my agent saying to go down, so I did and I went for about three auditions and then on the last audition I got a phone call that same afternoon and was offered the job, and I grabbed it with two hands really.
Why did you want to be a part of Grease so much?
RQ: Because Grease is such an iconic legendary thing you know. And the name sells itself really without anybody being in it – Grease is the word! So many people love it and understand it and can relate to it in so many different ways. It doesn’t matter who’s in it, Grease speaks for itself, so to be a part of all, that’s a great honour.
You’re famous for your swing style – was it a challenge to adapt to rock and roll?
RQ: No not at all. Obviously I’ve done my album and all that, but before then, as I said in theatre work – training and all that – I didn’t used to sing swing; that was just my thing that I liked to do and I enjoyed to do. Obviously to be able to get the album out was fab, but that’s just something that I enjoyed to sing. But no, there was no hard work really, it was cool.
Are you enjoying living in London?
RQ: I love London, when it’s sunny it’s great. I’ve got a little roof terrace so I can go out there and sunbathe and chill out in my undies. I’ve not overlooked by anyone you know it’s great!
Are there any immediate plans for when you finish your run in Grease?
RQ: Well I’ve got six months of Grease and then I’m doing panto at the end of the year in Peterborough, which should be good, I’m going to enjoy that. It’s Aladdin and I’m playing Aladdin which is good. And next year, you never know – watch this space. There are plenty of things up my sleeve and little surprises to come, but we’ll have to wait and see.