Monday, 26 January 2015

Interview: Marcus Collins

Marcus Collins is currently preparing to star as the Narrator in Bill Kenwright’s touring production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. He joins a cast including X Factor’s Lloyd Daniels as Joseph and former EastEnders actor Matthew Lapinskas as Pharaoh.

Mentored by Gary Barlow, Marcus finished second place in the 2011 series of The X Factor which was won by Little Mix. He went on to release his self-titled debut album and top ten hit ‘Seven Nation Army’. 

Marcus recently starred as Seaweed Stubbs in the UK Tour of Hairspray and appeared in the world tour of The West End Men, whilst continuing to work on his own music and make extensive concert appearances. 

I recently spoke to Marcus about what attracted him to his latest stage role, his obsession with Wicked and his dream of starring in Kinky Boots… 

So I believe this isn’t the first time you’ve starred in a production of Joseph – didn’t you play Pharaoh when you were at school?
[laughs] Yes! I played the Pharaoh, it was my first role actually in any musical! I couldn’t help myself, it just seemed like a great role, a great show and something I felt I could show off and have a bit of fun with. I started at fourteen!

And now all these years later you’ve come full circle! How did the opportunity to star in the tour come about? 
We were approached by Bill Kenwright and were asked how I would feel about the role and if I would take a look at it. I said “yeah” and caught up with the film and refreshed my memory and had a little think on it. I thought ‘this is so challenging! There’s so much to learn and as far as I remember I have only ever seen the Narrator as a woman, so maybe this would be something a little bit interesting that we could change up a bit and breathe some new life into, some new energy.’ It’s my chance to really get my teeth stuck into something different. I quite like the idea of being a versatile performer; I don’t ever want to be pigeonholed.

The cast of Joseph / Photo Credit: Darren Bell

Everyone knows all the words to all the songs – which ones are standing out for you at the moment?
[laughs] There’s no room for mistakes! I’ve been listening over the soundtrack and I’ve got a lot to be learning. There’s a lot there! I’ve been told by people who’ve played the role before me that trying to remember the order of the colours is very, very difficult. If you get one wrong that’s it! Fingers crossed I’m going to nail it, I will learn it – I just need a bit more time in rehearsals. The score is very, very detailed and very specific which is something I’m going to be concentrating on. 

The Joseph audiences are so mixed – you’ll have school trips as well as girls nights out.
Well I’ve found that since coming off X Factor my fanbase have followed me and come to see shows or productions that I’ve been in and I always seem to get a mixed group of people. It’s never just screaming girls or women fifty plus, I seem to get a really diverse mix of children coming with grandparents or teenagers so I’m quite used to that diverse audience. I think there really is something for everyone with this musical. It’s child friendly, there’s fun and games in it and the songs are absolutely phenomenal. There’s nothing not to like!

“I quite like the idea of being a versatile performer; I don’t ever want to be pigeonholed.”

Did you already know Lloyd (Daniels) through your X Factor connection?
Yes, I know Lloyd. Me and Lloyd have been friends for a while, we always chat and catch up when we bump into each other so it’s going to be great to get to work with somebody who has come from the same background as me. Obviously for Lloyd to get as far as he did on X Factor means he’s got a very strong work ethic and is very focused and isn’t afraid to give it everything, so that makes me feel comfortable that I’m going to be working my hardest in a cast that is also going to be going full out constantly. 

How are you feeling about these ten show weeks? 
I imagine that will be a challenge; it’s going to be quite gruelling! Vocally I’ve got a lot to do! I don’t know, there’s still a lot to discuss – obviously we want to make sure that everyone who comes to see the show gets the best show possible. We’re going to have to have a little look at that and see how we can make it the best for everyone. It’s a very gruelling schedule and a very full on show. I’ve got a lot to do and it’s a very big sing, it’s going to be an interesting one but we’ll deal with that when we come to it. 

Marcus as Seaweed Stubbs in Hairspray
You’ve been busy with theatre projects recently – notably West End Men and Hairspray. I know you did theatre as a kid, but is it something you ever thought you would actually end up doing? Or have you fallen into it?
Well theatre is something I’ve been doing since I was young. As I said, I was fourteen when I first took a role in a musical. This is so exciting for me to be able to tell my music teacher who was at Wembley with me for the finals of X Factor. We’ve had a good laugh remembering when we were learning this fifteen years ago. We were just joking around in the school hall and now I’m actually in it! Musical theatre is something I’ve loved for years. From as early as I remember I’ve always been very passionate about going to the theatre and watching new productions and seeing the same show but with a different cast. It’s nice to be able to still do music, do my own tours and then do a musical for a year or have a little contact here and there – I’m very, very lucky that I can do both.

What are some of your all-time favourite shows?
My all-time favourite… I’m a big Wicked fan! I know it’s cliché but I am, I absolutely love it and have seen it about fifty times [laughs]. I saw it on the opening night in the West End with Idina Menzel and it was just mind blowing… I’ve never ever heard notes or seen a show like it. It’s incredible! I was in New York over the summer so I got to go over to Broadway. I got to see Kinky Boots which is coming over here, it is something else! It’s going to really take over this country! I saw Newsies as well on Broadway which I thought was quite good. Hairspray has always been one of my favourites and something that I’ve always wanted to be in, so being able to play Seaweed was a dream come true.

Are there any roles you have your eye on?
Absolutely, I would love to be in Kinky Boots – I would love to play Lola. I think that would be an incredible role and something that would be so difficult. I think the storyline would be really easy to relate to, walking around in heels not so much – that’s probably going to be a bit of a challenge [laughs]. 

Interviewed by Andrew Tomlins (Editor)

UPDATE (4th Feb 2015): Marcus Collins has pulled out of the 2015 UK Tour of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. He "did not show up for rehearsals and then subsequently withdrew altogether. Without ever performing." Click here for further information and a full statement from Bill Kenwright's team.

Marcus Collins stars in the UK Tour of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat from Wedneday 4th February 2015 at the Everyman Theatre in Cheltenham. Please visit for information, full tour dates and tickets.

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