Ray Quinn is currently starring in the UK tour of The Songbook of Judy Garland.
Arlene Phillips’ show stars top West End performers including Louise Dearman and Darren Bennet as well as Judy’s daughter Lorna Luft. The cast perform numbers associated with Judy’s career, with the show also featuring film clips and interviews.
Ray famously finished second to Leona Lewis on The X Factor in 2006 and won Dancing on Ice in 2009 as well as the ‘All Stars’ series in 2014. Ray’s debut album Doing It My Way topped the UK album chart in 2007, and he is currently back in the studio working on new material.
His theatre credits include: Danny Zuko and Doody in Grease (West End/UK tour), Billy Kosteki in Dirty Dancing (West End), Warner in Legally Blonde (UK tour) and Billy in The Rise and Fall of Little Voice (UK tour).
I recently spoke to Ray about why he’s inspired by Judy, what it’s like to work so closely with her daughter and which stage role he has his eye on…
How familiar were you previously with Judy Garland’s career?
I grew up with that music. For my mum and dad that was their era and they listened to the music Judy Garland did and the shows she did with the likes of Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire and all these people like Frank Sinatra who I grew up listening to.
I was totally intrigued by the quality of it and wanted to have a go so jumped at the chance when they asked me to do it. I’m really inspired by her and what she did from a young age. She had a normal life but actually sustained a career in such a tough industry.
Ray and Louise Dearman in The Songbook of Judy Garland
What can people expect from the show?
It’s a true honour to Judy’s life and a real tribute to what a talented woman she was. It celebrates how much she actually achieved in such a short life. Of course Lorna Luft – her daughter – speaks of her really highly and gives you a small insight into what it was like growing up with a mum whose name was Judy Garland [laughs].
Do you have a favourite number?
My favourite song in the show is my number which is ‘Stepping Out With My Baby’ – I’m a big fan of Fred Astaire and get to do that number on my own with my tap shoes. I haven’t tapped for fifteen years so it’s been fun [laughs]!
What has Lorna been like to work with?
She’s fabulous – she’s a great laugh and just likes to have fun which is what the entertainment business is all about. She really shows you the ways of having a laugh. Also she gets stuck in with the cast; the loves the fact that we’re like a family. I think this is one of the tightest groups of cast members I’ve ever worked with. Everyone just gets on really well! Louise (Dearman) and everyone are just true professionals at what they do.
Do you like touring life?
I enjoy it; I enjoy visiting each city and each village and each town. For me touring has practically been my life, so I’ve found friends along the way and each town I go to I get to catch up with friends. Being on the road is tough, but you get used to it and find yourself getting into your own little routine and life goes on.
Are there any theatre roles you have your eye on at the moment?
I would love to do Saturday Night Fever, I think Tony Manero is a fabulous role. But at the moment, although I’m stuck in the theatre, I’m actually on my own tour doing my own music. I’ve been writing and recording my own stuff in the studio with my producers and writers – I have a good team around me. Things are going well so fingers crossed by the end of this year you’ll be looking out for my single and then my album should be out some time next year.
Interviewed by Andrew Tomlins (Editor)
The Songbook of Judy Garland tours the UK until 1st August 2015. Please visit www.judygarlandsongbook.com for further information and tickets.