Got a question about Jaffa Cakes? Felixstowe-bound singing star Ansell is your man.
HE’s one of the UK’s most popular young tenors, a bona fide recording and theatre star and, it turns out, an expert on Jaffa Cakes.
Described as the Justin Timberlake of pop opera, Jonathan Ansell’s life is full of surprises.
He’s chatting to me from New York instead of the UK as planned for starters. His wife and friends surprised him with a trip to celebrate his 30th birthday. It was an eventful break, but we’ll get to that.
First things first, his new show An Evening With, at Felixstowe’s Spa Pavilion tomorrow.
“The scary part is when the audience ask me questions directly from their seats and you never quite know where that’s going to go so that always keeps me on my toes,” he laughs.
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“I’ve been put on the spot numerous times; I’m like how on Earth do you come back to that and there are silly ones like where people ask is a Jaffa Cake a cake or a biscuit.
“I watch stupid stuff on TV late at night and stuff on Discovery. Bizarrely, when I was offered that question I’d seen a challenge which was actually explaining exactly why it’s a cake and I gave this scientific explanation to the water content which meant it was a cake and got a full on round of applause.”
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A lot of the questions Jonathan gets focus on his career, which started when he shot to fame with pop opera group G4 on the X Factor.
“Someone asked me the other day if I believed in ghosts and my thoughts on the afterlife. It’s a really deep question to even think what my views are and have an answer. It’s scary because the audience are taking the helm.”
On the subject of fear, that flight to America.
“There was a technical fault on the plane. We were two-and-a-half hours out to sea in the middle of the Atlantic and had to turn round and spent five hours going from Manchester to Heathrow which was a complete nightmare.
“Obviously the first priority was everyone’s safety and thankfully it was all fine. It was scary, my wife was panicking like mad that there was something more drastic and we’re not quite sure what the implications are to one of the electrical generators not working.
“We circled around Lands End for about an hour to burn off enough fuel to land and then flew into Heathrow so it can’t have been a huge emergency but it was nerve-wracking.”
?Tomorrow’s show, audience Q&A aside, promises to be more relaxing.
“It’s an opportunity for the audience to see me in a much more intimate setting than I’ve ever performed in,” he promises.
Jonathan will perform a mix of songs that have inspired him throughout his career and his take on old G4 songs right through to the likes of Danny Boy, You Raise Me Up, Nessun Dorma and opera highlights.
Fans can also look forward to a new album he’s about to start recording. An album they’re actually funding.
“It’s really exciting for me that they’ve embraced this new concept. They pre-order the album on Pledge Music and by doing that they create the funds which enable you to record it. It’s a great opportunity to get back into the studio and record some more music.
“It’s a busy time, it’s just nerve-wracking how I’ll keep everything coordinated because I’m dreadful with my diary and keeping things together.”
He’ll be juggling this and the show with rehearsals for his lead role as Charles Darnay in A Tale of Two Cities at London’s Charing Cross Theatre from April to May; which is being produced and directed by the prolific actor Paul Nicholas.
“It’s kind of my debut in the West End. I don’t know if I’m officially allowed to call it that, because it’s a fringe theatre just between Charing Cross and Embankment. I think there’s only a certain cross section of the theatres in the West End you can call a West End theatre. I don’t know. its in the West End, it’s a production and it’s my debut in town,” he laughs.