Dancing on Ice winner and Reality TV finalist Jake Quickenden talks to Craig Hough about his career and upcoming, stripped-back performance at The ABode Chester
You have recently made your musical theatre debut performing in Hair. What made you take up the challenge of musical theatre and how does it differ from anything else you’ve done?
I just like testing myself, I don’t like doing the same thing. It’s great that I can always go back to music and acting, after doing reality TV. For me it’s all about that test, to see if I can actually do it and succeed without the years of training. At the end of the day, the people who I’m working with are so talented and go to schools through years of training and I come in with no training and have to work extra hard to prove myself to these people. It’s gone really well, it’s been a lot harder than I thought it would be I’m not going to lie, I thought it would be easier. Like Dancing on Ice, it’s been really hard work but it has been a challenge that I’ve really enjoyed.
What’s the story of Hair?
We play a group of hippies who love getting high but have been drafted into the Vietnam war and Claude (played by Paul Wilkins) is torn between staying with our tribe or going to war. That’s the pretty much the plot. There’s plenty more to see, including my naked scene. I’m pretty much in a thong for the whole thing, which weirdly I don’t actually mind.
You play George Berger in Hair, how would you describe him?
He’s an absolute lunatic. When I went to the audition I was just chatting rubbish like I usually do, and they were like it’s good that you’re already in character. He’s a bit of a loose cannon and the leader of the tribe. He’s scared of the tribe breaking up and just wants to be young and have fun. Pretty much the same as me.
Switching gears slightly. Your career really kicked off after appearing on X-Factor. How was that experience for you starting out as a lad from Scunthorpe that played football to appearing on one of the UK’s biggest TV shows?
I think when you go for a show like X-Factor you don’t think about how many people are watching, you just think about the fact it’s a talent contest. I never expected to go as far as I did, so every round I was getting through I was thinking “this is funny”. From the audition to performing in front of millions of people - it’s pretty daunting, especially as I wouldn’t class myself as a singer. Singing was just something I enjoyed doing. As you said, I played football before, the music was never really there for me, I just always enjoyed it. Without the X-Factor I wouldn’t be where I am today so I’m super grateful for the experience. I know they’re doing an All Stars series, so Simon if you’re listening - I’m ready to come back. I’m all about the challenge and feel I’d be better this time as I’d know what I’d want to do and the type of music I’d like to sing. I’d like to go on and prove to all the people who didn’t think I was any good that I can actually sing.
You were runner-up on another of ITV’s main shows I’m a Celebrity. Looking back, how much of a challenge was that for you? What were the highs and lows?
If I’m totally honest, I didn’t find it hard at all. In fact, I found it quite easy. I literally just lay in a hammock, it was so chilled. Obviously, we had the trials, but again, I enjoy the challenge, it’s like something else takes over me and I just want to win. The scariest thing for me was going in and seeing all these celebrities and there’s me from the X-Factor sat there thinking “this is mad”. I just really enjoyed the experience.
You were crowned King of the Ice Rink on Dancing On Ice last year. What was going through your head as you were announced the winner?
I thought thank God I’ve finally won a reality show. I’ve done that many I thought “I’ve got to win this one”. It was nice because I knew how much work we’d put into it. We were never off the ice rink, we were always on there, eight hours a day messing around and trying new stuff. I wanted to do the headbanger in week two and my partner Vanessa was like “we’re not ready yet”. I just wanted to push myself. So when I finally got crowned it was like all the hard work played off. It was just nice to win, I’ve got that achievement for the rest of my life now.
As this interview sits in our travel issue of the magazine, what is the most luxurious hotel destination you’ve stayed in?
Obviously, the Versace hotel that I stayed in once I came out of I’m a Celebrity, it was stunning. I travel to Ibiza a lot with friends as I like a party holiday. Last year I went to Aberton Island in Greece which was a nice villa in a nice resort. If I’m with the right people, I can have a good time anywhere.
You are all set to play the ABode in Chester on 6 September. What can people expect from your set?
It’s going to just be me and my guitar. I think people will be surprised by my voice, stripped back. When I do these kinds of gigs, people are like “You’ve actually got a really good voice, I didn’t expect that”. I’ll do a few original tracks to show off my songwriting. It’ll be acoustic music which I love to listen to which will fit in perfectly into a lovely venue like the ABode. With the intimate setting, I’m hoping guests will get to know me a little better, it’ll be more personal and better than a larger gig. It’s the kind of gig I like doing.
Jake Quickenden plays ABode Chester on 6 September with tickets available at www.abodechester.co.uk
X-Factor or Dancing On Ice?
Dancing On Ice.
Dancing On Ice Or I’m a Celebrity?
Dancing On Ice obviously- I won!
Favourite X-Factor performance?
My audition was the best, but it was my nail in the coffin as I couldn’t top it. I peaked too soon.
Simon Cowell or Jason Gardiner?
I like Jason. He came to watch Hair the musical and we went for a pint after. He’s a lovely guy.
Musical you’d like to perform in?
I’d love to do Wicked on the West End.
TV show you’d like to appear on?
Bear Grylls: The Island, SAS: Who Dares Wins or Hunted.
Person you’d most like to duet with?
Hungry for more?
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