Rhydian rocks

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BECOMING the runner-up of a show like X Factor isn’t always a bad thing. Vicki Newman chatted with Rhydian Roberts about life after the show and his upcoming Wearside appearance.

DURING his stint in X Factor in 2007, Rhydian Roberts personified the saying “he’s like marmite”, people truly did love him or hate him.

But it was his quirky character, signature style and breathtaking talent which saw him storm ahead as the show’s favourite to win.

He may have missed out at the last hurdle, coming runner-up to Leon Jackson, but it certainly hasn’t stopped him in his tracks.

Since the show finished, the 28-year-old has released three studio albums, filmed his own TV show and appeared in tours of top West End shows.

His latest stage appearance will see him come to the Sunderland Empire in October to fill the role of the Teen Angel in Grease.

Rhydian, who was born in Sennybridge, Powys, Wales, said: “I’m really looking forward to getting involved with Grease, it’s a great show and has a brilliant cast and production company.”

His role, played by Frankie Avalon in the 1978 film, which famously starred John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John, consoles character Frenchy when she struggles to keep up at the beauty school she dropped out of high school to attend.

Rhydian said: “The Teen Angel is more of a cameo role, but I’m excited about being able to do it. It sounds bad, but I’ve been really busy at the minute with the new album, my TV show and We Will Rock You, so I haven’t really started preparing for the role yet.

“If it was a bigger role I would have, but since it’s only one song I haven’t just yet. But the way I work is very intense, normally when I’ve got about two weeks to go I start really working at it and trying to make the song my own – hopefully I’ll be able to do that.

“I love being part of a cast working together on one project. The audience are always such an important part of it.

“Doing eight shows a week for a long period is a big strain and for some performers doing it over a few years it can sometimes become a bit tedious, but the audience is what keeps it exciting.

“Seeing them right in front of you and feeding off their excitement and reactions is what makes it different to anything else.”

Rhydian’s first album sold more than 600,000 copies and saw him complete a 27-date sell-out tour. Follow up, O Fortuna, was nominated for Best Album at the Classical Brit Awards 2010 and went Gold.

His third album, Waves, has seen him take a different direction – more of a pop sound.

He said: “The new album is doing well. It’s a new venture for me. The last two albums were classical and this is more of a pop album. It was fantastic making it, I loved it.

“It was a very exciting project and it was very interesting to take a different route. I’ve always wanted to release a pop album and the fans are really enjoying it.

“It’s great for a live show. The audience I got from X Factor was quite broad and enjoy the classical side of music as well as pop.

“It was really fun to make and you’ve got to keep moving. As long as I’m going forward I’m going up – it’s exciting.”

Since coming out of X Factor, Rhydian took a detour into the world of theatre, appearing in the European and UK tour of Jeff Wayne’s The War of the Worlds and landing the role of Khashoggi, in the We Will Rock You tour.

He said: “Theatre is great to do in between things, it’s really fun working with casts who are brilliantly-talented performers.

“I think theatre is one of my biggest loves and it works for me because it’s so intense and that’s how I like to work.

“I’ve just finished doing We Will Rock You and it was amazing. I love the fact that you’re on stage in front of a big audience filled with people who love the art form.

“I went into X Factor hoping for a record contract, but also hoping to be seen by theatre producers as well.”

Rhydian won over X Factor audiences after his performance of the title track from Phantom of the Opera.

He said: “I’d love to play the Phantom. Maybe give me a few years and I’ll be old enough for the role, but I’d love to be in Les Miserables as well.

“There’s lots of shows I’d love to be part of so hopefully I’ll spend a lot more time in the theatre.”

The star has also been busy recording his TV show, Rhydian, which broadcasts on Welsh channel S4C and Sky channel 134.

He said: “It’s really hard work, but it’s great fun.

“Filming has been a great experience. I’ve got a lot going on at the minute, but I’m having a brilliant time.”

l Grease is at the Sunderland Empire from October 24 to November 1. Tickets costing £18.50 to £39 are available from 0844 871 3022 or online at www.sunderlandempire.org.uk