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Les Musicals

Jai McDowall and Jonathan Ansell are the mahoosive voices belting out the tunes in the touring show Les Musicals which comes to Richmond Theatre on Fri 10 May. Here's what they get up to when they're not on stage.

Jonathan Ansell first popped up on The X Factor eons ago as part of the pop-opera group G4. Since then Jonathan has also shone as a solo artist, releasing two chart-topping solo albums Tenor at the Movies and Forever.

In Les Musicals – a live concert tour that celebrates the best of musical theatre – he joins forces with Jai McDowall, who won the fifth series of Britain’s Got Talent and is no stranger to a spot musical theatre himself, as well as a bit of panto. Expect classics from Les MiserablesPhantom Of The OperaBlood BrothersWickedJesus Christ SuperstarThe Greatest ShowmanMiss SaigonChessWe Will Rock You, among others.

Muddy caught up with Jon and Jai over a pint and a packet of fags to talk inflatable chairs, onstage disasters and, er, potatoes.

(Okay, just kidding, I had the pint, the guys drank herbal tea.)

So guys, this show must take its toll on your vocal cords. How do you look after your voice?

Jonathan: I am hugely respectful of my voice, however, I also do not wrap it and myself in cotton wool to protect it. I have always lived by the ethos that it needs a mild level of natural abuse to enable it to work with more resilience when under pressure and fatigued.

Jai: For me, it’s just hydrate and hot honey.

Any pre-show rituals?

Jonathan: A basic warm up and then plenty of water and either normally a good strong coffee, or if I am feeling vocally tired, I love a good flask full of fresh ginger, lemon and water, nice and spicy too!

Jai: I like to eat about an hour before, then chill and warm up… I also like to brush my teeth.

What’s always in your dressing room?

Jonathan: I am not very needy in the dressing room. I love a kettle, water and ideally enough room to inflate my travel sofa chair which is amazing to really relax on.

Jai: Water. Honey. Kettle… I’m so boring!! <laughs>

Favourite musical?

Jonathan: It would have to be Les Miserables.

Jai: My new favourite musical is Come from Away.

Favourite song?

Jonathan: Bring Him Home.

Jai: I’m loving Ben Platt’s new album..all of it.

Worst onstage disaster?

Jonathan: I have experienced many, and traditionally they involve wardrobe malfunctions. They have even caused me to stand onstage at the Royal Albert Hall with my flies undone during a performance, until the front row fans pointed it out and I managed to turn around and fix the issue. Whoops!!

Jai: A fire broke out during a panto once, one of the speakers caught fire.


Describe yourself in three words.

Jonathan: Fun, focused and foolish.

Jai: Cool, calm, collected…..ha ha I wish!

Worst job ever?

Jonathan: Selling potatoes at the side of the road from a shed.

Jai: I’ve not really had any bad jobs. I’ve liked them all for different reasons.

What’s your guilty pleasure?

Jonathan: Ben & Jerry’s Pretzel Ice-cream, the entire tub…

Jai: Will and Grace!

Les Musicals is at Richmond Theatre on Fri 10 May. Tickets are from £22.65.

The tour comes to the New Victoria Theatre in Woking on Mon 20 May.

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