SYNDICATED INTERVIEW WITH RHYDIAN ROBERTS – PILATE IN JCS 2015
How did you get involved with the show and what was it about the part that attracted you to it?
I was lucky enough to be invited by Bill Kenwright to his office to audition and seeing as it’s one of my favourites, it’s in my top three shows of all time, I thought, I must go in! Initially they wanted me for Judas but I didn’t feel I could have done that role justice. So I said what about Pilate, ad so sung them the song and discussed the role a little bit and I got offered the part.
So it’s a show you’re more than familiar with – so accepting the part was a no-brainer then!
It’s a great show. I watched it when I was at university. The score is fantastic, the story is probably the greatest love story of all time, and there’s a good male cast. In this production there’s only three girls but about 16 guys, because of all of the disciples, which is quite unusual for a musical to have a male-heavy cast with male songs. It’s a big responsibility though, playing Pilate, being the one who sentences Jesus to death.
Are you religious and if so, do you think this musical has done justice to the last days of Jesus’s life?
When it first came out it had its critics, but coming from a guy who’s got faith, I don’t think that was justified because they’re still making this guy Jesus out to be an amazing man of love and somebody who did a tremendous amount of good on the Earth, performing miracles, and I think to anybody who doesn’t know the story of the Bible and the Gospels, it’s a good introduction combining music and the story. Anything that has music in it I’m interested in as well as a lot of people out there, and musicals are huge right now, and this isn’t a dying industry, in fact it’s the complete opposite. And even with new Disney musicals coming out, there’s a whole new wave of kids who are interested in acting and singing.
How have you prepared for the role?
I’ve read the Bible, not completely from front to back, but quite a lot of it, especially the New Testament, and I’ve looked into the character, the part of Pilate, and there’s definitely evidence to suggest he did exist, he was the fifth governor. And he didn’t feel Jesus deserved to die, and there is evidence to also back that up. So it’s quite nice to have something that’s not built purely on fiction. Whether you believe Jesus is the Son of God or not, that’s up to you, but we are portraying history here. A man called Jesus lived. People might try and dispute that, but it’s true. And Pilate lived. And there was a Crucifixion. It’s whether you believe the Resurrection or not. I’ve looked into all of that, I’ve seen the film, I’ve heard soundtracks, but the trouble with that is that every performance is different. I’m very good friends with Steve Balsamo, who played one of the Jesus’s back in the Nineties, so he’s my Jesus Christ Superstar mentor. And he’s given me some good advice. Glenn (Carter) obviously knows Jesus as well, for many years now. It’s a great cast. I have a small role really, but it’s a significant role.
You’re used to being on tour, whether as a solo artist or in a musical – what’s your favourite bit about being on the road?
Seeing new cities and places. People ask me if I get tired of touring, and it is tiring, but it’s thrilling as well. And if you’re in a nice company, you get to know the cast and meet new people. Theatres as well. It’s one of my ambitions to perform in every theatre in the UK before I finish performing, and hopefully I’ll be performing for many years to come. Slowly but surely, and over the last seven years, I’ve covered quite a few theatres and I’m performing in a few on this tour I’ve never performed in before, such as Woking, Bromley and the Bord Gais in Dublin, so that’s the best thing. And everything’s new, everyone’s new, I didn’t know any of my fellow castmates before, and we’re getting on fine so far (laughs).
The X Factor – it’s what most people will know you from – is it a badge you still wear proudly?
The thing is, I’ve done a lot since then. I’ve sold a million albums, I’ve been in quite a few different shows, done my own tours. The X Factor certainly launched me and it’s produced superstars. And brands. Look at One Direction, the biggest band in the world right now and they came third! So that makes me proud. JLS did extremely well, Olly Murs is doing amazingly well. Leona Lewis has had huge success. That show gives you an amazing opportunity. I’ve never dissed that show. I don’t think I’m owned by that show, but I still watch it when I can.
You recently completed a panto run in which you played Beast in Beauty and the Beast – have you done panto before? How did you find it?
It was my first panto and it was brilliant. Singing with the Beast’s mask on wasn’t easy because it’s quite heavy but I love playing characters and the Beast is perfect for me, I love things like that, Phantom, the Beast. So when I got the phone call asking if I’d be interested, I said absolutely. In fact last year, I went to see a panto, my first panto ever, to get familiar with the art of it and with a view of going into panto. And more and more people are doing it, it’s not a taboo in the industry any more. I’ve got friends who’ve done extremely well through panto. I’d love to do panto for the rest of my career. And it’s a very British thing that doesn’t really translate anywhere else. My girlfriend is Australian and it was a completely new experience for her.
This tour takes you all the way up to July – plans for the rest of the year?
If work is offered to me I usually take it, I’m a bit of a workaholic. But I also like to relax. I’m continuing my One Day Like This tour. Last year was a good year for me, I had a number one album and we started the tour at the end of 2014. We have a couple of months off Jesus Christ Superstar, so I’ll be doing my own tour around the UK.