A clown and a psychopath, that’s Will Young’s verdict on his character Emcee in musical Cabaret, which returns to the Opera House next week.
The Pop Idol winner and internationally renowned singer is back in the role, which saw him make his musical theatre debut in 2012.
The master of ceremonies at the Kit Kat Club, around which the show’s action revolves, acts as a narrator to singer Sally Bowles’ sad tale.
“He is such a demon,” Will said of Emcee - the character which earned him an Olivier Award nomination. “It’s a dream to play him again.
“It was hard to say goodbye when it ended last time.
“I thought I would be getting older and that would be it, I thought can I do it one more time? Then Bill Kenwright got in touch just two weeks later; it was really weird.
“He’s like an old - slightly psychotic - friend. I would let him into my house, but I’d frisk him before he left.
“For me, he is an easier character to play than perhaps someone more subtle. He is a clown, a psychopath and it’s a very liberating role.
“It’s very physical and I like physical comedy. I let the lines do it and inhibit him.
“I make sure I don’t take him home with me. One, I would be arrested, and two, it would be too intense.
“I have a shower immediately afterwards to wash it away. He’s quite creepy with that face!”
Perhaps best known in film form, with Liza Minnelli as the tragic singer, Cabaret features some of musical theatre’s great standards: Maybe This Time, Money Makes The World Go Around and the titular song.
Living up to Minnelli’s exceptional performance is a challenge for any actress, so how does Will anticipate acting newcomer Louise Redknapp will get on?
“I think she’s a star,” he said of his fellow Strictly Come Dancing contestant, the pair appeared in last year’s series. “When we did the Cabaret photoshoot, as soon as I saw her, I knew, she is Sally Bowles. She doesn’t do things by halves; I think she’s going to be the best Sally I’ve worked with.”
Although happy to be back on stage, Will’s not turning his back on music - the appeal is the show and not a career change.
“It’s a fantastic story,” he said. “I like what the show does; it does what cabaret [as a genre] does, it shines a light on things.
“Musicals are few and far between which would suit me. And for me, it’s more about wanting to play that character than just to ‘be in a musical’.
“Cabaret is great as there’s darkness, and actually a lot of lightness too; it’s not just doom and gloom, there’s hysterical dance routines and a lot of clowning around, it’s like a rollercoaster, or a seven course meal for the audience.”