As he prepares for the launch of the new productionThe Songbook of Judy Garland, which is about to tourthe UK, TPR Scotland’s Fraser MacDonald caught up with singer, actor and TV star Ray Quinn to talk about the show.
FM: Thank you for taking time to talk with us today. Ray, if you could start by giving us a little information about the show and your rôle.
RQ: The show basically celebrates Judy Garland’s life and the songs that she has done over the years. We all come together and sing songs and celebrate her, so it’s going to be good fun. My rôle in this show is to perform; I don’t really play a part but the whole show is a spectacle so it’s going to be massive.
FM: The show is a compilation of movie footage, stories and songs. Having performed in shows like Grease, do you enjoy a different kind of performance with The Songbook of Judy Garland?
RQ: Well I enjoy singing, but the show isn’t just singing for me; I’m tap dancing, I’m jiving, and ballroom dancing. It’s a bit of everything so I see it as a spectacle, everybody’s doing so much throughout the show. It really is an all singing, all dancing production. It’s very energetic and there’s a lot of colour and light on stage, so it’s going to be good.
FM: Judy’s daughter Lorna Luft stars in the show; do you feel that it is extra pressure as a performer or are you pretty comfortable with that?
RQ: When I first got the job, we got a briefing with a breakdown of Judy and what she had been through as a person and as a performer and I think Lorna is able to give it a more personal touch; it just seems more of a family thing. We’re very lucky to have a great cast of people coming together for this and the support by the team is fantastic. When the audience see that, it will be infectious. We’re carrying a lot of fun and a lot of excitement!
FM: There anything particular about Judy’s life that took you by surprise or was there anything you didn’t know before that you will take away from this experience?
RQ: I suppose I always thought of her as quite tragic in terms of her life, but she wasn’t that kind of person. I think that’s what I found out; she was actually a really fun person and she had a great personality. With the show, it’s about being able to put that on stage. To tell the audience “This was Judy” and this is why we are celebrating her life. From my point of view, I imagine my son performing as Lorna is, and I am looking down so proud. I mean Judy must be so proud of her daughter, who is basically going to be performing her songs in a show dedicated to her and that really shows how big a legend and she was and still is.
FM: You’ve talked about the show as a whole performance, and there’s been a lot of big names involved, such as Arlene Phillips, so it’s probably going to be a pretty exhausting tour. In Edinburgh, for example, you’re performing two shows in two days. Do you ever get tired or do you take it all in your stride?
RQ: I suppose I’m used to know having done eight shows a week in the West End, so I am used it. With this tour, we get a couple of travel days which makes it a little easier and you get that bit more time between shows which is nice.
FM: You started your career in Brookside but are probably best-known from coming second in the X Factor in 2006. Since then, Have you enjoyed your career has been pretty varied, in mixing solo career with theatre performance?
RQ: I think that leaving college and going straight into X Factor was a big decision for me – and a big risk – but having done it and come out the other side, I know that it was the right one. But also to know your trade is always there, it’s great. It was a very natural transition for me to go into musicals so young because I had time and to still be doing it keeps me busy and active and I really enjoy it. It’s great to see you actually love what you do and really laugh when you go to work everyday.
FM: Many also remember you from winning Dancing On Ice, again a very different type of performance. Would you like to do something like that again?
RQ: Well you never know what’s around the corner, but I am quite a competitive person actually. I’ve got two brothers and we are all very competitive. I really thrived on dancing on ice because I wanted to be the best, but in terms of all the other shows, I don’t think there’s many left [for me to do].
FM: So in terms of your solo music career, we saw an EP release last year, an album, tour, and various other things coming up this year, can you tell us a little bit more about what the future holds?
RQ: Well I do have a couple of shows coming up, which is exciting, but I’m actually spending most of my time in the studio, writing my own music and seeing the production happen. I’ve got a great team of people around me making this album. It originally started as couple of covers, and then I add a few singles but now the whole album is complete originals. After the musical, I think I’ll go away for a little bit and come back to some new music, probably touring it later next year.
The Songbook of Judy Garland begins its tour of the UK at Edinburgh Playhouse on 8 May.