Let’s hear it for the… Boys!

Daniel Boys became one of our favourite ‘boys’ when he appeared on our TV screens in the BBC’s Joseph hunt ‘Any Dream Will Do’. Having been voted off early in the series we all wondered if that was the end of the lad’s career… however, it has gone from strength to strength. After starring in ‘Sweeney Todd the Musical’ he joined the West End production of the award winning show ‘Avenue Q’ and furthermore has just released his debut album. Simon Savidge caught up with him to discuss music, all things gay and boys, boys, boys!

So Avenue Q has survived the credit crunch and has moved theatres, how has that been?

It’s great. It’s a stunning, beautiful new theatre and of course we’re all very excited to have jobs as we didn’t close. It was weird at first. I mean, I had nine weeks off with the move, so my body just relaxed, now I have to get used to having my arms up the back of two men (laughs) so to speak. For anyone who hasn’t seen the show, they’re puppets I’m working, and it’s quite tough on my arms. At first I came off stage sometimes wondering where I was. We are also one of the cheapest shows (laughs) not in that way… tickets… we are cheap and wonderfully cheerful.

What made you want to do a show like ‘Any Dream Will Do’?

Well, it was a musical that I loved, I had always wanted to be Joseph and I hadn’t worked for a few years so I thought ‘why not’. I was aware it was a TV show and could be good for my profile. In all honesty I didn’t think I would make it through the first round. It could easily have backfired and actually been detrimental to my career, thankfully that wasn’t the case.

How was it after you were voted off?

Hard, really gutting, but also in a way there was a huge amount of pressure behind that show, which suddenly wasn’t there. I think me being the ‘shock evictee’ if you will, has actually helped, it’s made me more determined and made me sure this is what I want to do.

You have always been open about being gay…

Did you know that on ‘Any Dream Will Do’? They told us (the BBC) that we should keep our sexuality a secret as it would put off voters and the viewing public. I was quite shocked that people would be bothered and there were quite a few gay guys on that show, plus you have the very out and lovely Graham Norton. I have always been open about my sexuality, so it was difficult. I would just say “No, I don’t have a girlfriend”… I didn’t want to lie to anyone.

Maybe they thought some dirt would come out about you?

(Laughs) There isn’t… much! (Laughs) Actually they did call me in the office once as one paper was going to run a story that one of the contestants had been a male escort… and they wondered if it was me. Secretly, I was quite shocked and appalled… and flattered.

Has being openly out and a well known face helped on the boyfriend front?

(Laughs). People come up to me and talk to me a lot more, which is lovely, as I love meeting new people. At the same time I think it stops some people talking to you as they might think you’re a bit uppity. Has it helped? I am not sure really, no one has asked me that before.

How did you get the Avenue Q gig?

Before ‘Any Dream Will Do’ I had already auditioned for a part and had got through a few stages but not into the actual show because the cast didn’t change. Then after Sweeney Todd I auditioned again and got the part. I was so thrilled because I am a huge fan of the show and it has so much heart to it. I cried the first time I saw it because I could really relate to some of the puppets (laughs). I sound so daft. People think I got it through the ‘Any Dream…’ but I didn’t… I had a fair few rejections after Joseph you know.

Is singing with a puppet hard?

Do you know what, you have to go to puppet school and it is really hard at first. In most auditions they hand you a song or a song sheet, in this one they just hand you a puppet and watch what you do… it’s quite disconcerting. Being two puppets is great because I have always said singing is my thing but in this show I have to act both characters. It’s been a learning curve but has shown me there is more I want to do.

Now that you are the headline act have you become a diva?

(Laughs) I hope not! I don’t demand puppies in my dressing room; in fact I don’t demand anything. My new dressing room is great though… it’s got a bed in it, not that I need a bed (laughs) well you never know. Is there more pressure? Not really as I don’t think of myself as a headline name. I still see pictures of myself on the adverts on the tube and get a shock. For me the show is all about a whole team, there isn’t one star, we are all very much behind each other… laughing at each other when we forget our lines.

You have also released your own album…

And I funded it myself. Seeing that amount of money leaving my bank account was the scariest thing, but I really wanted to do it. I had the opportunity to fulfil a dream…so I thought ‘sod it’ and it’s doing really well. It’s a collection of all my favourite songs (laughs). No Simon, not ‘Spice Up Your Life, though doing a jazz version of a Spice Girls song could be quite cool, maybe on the next one. It’s all songs I have loved, some are pop, some are forgotten, some are from musicals… it’s a nice mix.

What would you like to do next?

I want to play Elphaba in Wicked, but I don’t think that that’s going to happen. I would like to do some TV work or some musical film, or just a film. I was John Barrowman’s ‘special guest’ on his last tour and the buzz from an audience like that was amazing. There are lots and lots more that I want to do… it’s endless.

Avenue Q is now at the Gielgud Theatre booking till the end of September 2009.

Photo: Tristram Kenton