Two years ago Matt Terry was crowned king of The X Factor when he won the 2016 series of ITV’s unstoppable singing competition.
But now he’s playing the king of the jungle, as Alex The Lion, in a new musical adaptation of the hit animated film, Madagascar.
Join Alex, Marty the Zebra, Melman the Giraffe, Gloria the hip hip Hippo and, of course, those plotting penguins as they bound onto The Kings’ stage in the musical adventure of a lifetime.
Based on the 2005 DreamWorks smash, Madagascar the Musical follows all of your favourite crack-a-lackin’ friends as they escape from their home in New York’s Central Park Zoo and find themselves on an unexpected journey to the madcap world of lemur King Julien’s Madagascar.
And while the role may seem like an abrupt left-turn for Matt’s fans, as he explains, it’s not so strange for him.
‘Not many people know, but before the show I actually trained in musical theatre,’ he tells The Guide. ‘That was the path I was going to take. I was in the final auditions for Thriller Live, and things like that, but had no luck. Then obviously the X Factor happened and that blew up and my life went in a completely different direction. It’s always been a dream and it is something I’ve always been very passionate about, so when the offer came in, I thought, hell, why not?’
The show blends impressive costumes and puppetry to bring its wild menagerie of characters to life. On the day we spoke, Matt had only just had his first costume fitting, and as this is the show’s debut UK tour, Matt is going to be the first to bring Alex to life on stage.
‘I am transforming into a full-on muscly lion. It’s quite cool that I’m creating the character for the stage and getting to bring Alex to life. Madagascar one of those world-renowned films, it’s iconic.’
And he’s full of praise for the show’s score: ‘The songs are very catchy and I came away feeling like I knew them after the first time I heard them.’
Although Matt is signed up to the tour for at least six months, he’s not turning his back on his musical career. ‘Music is timeless, I’m still in the studio, I’ve still got sessions and I’m still writing. For those six months when I’m on tour and on the road, that’s obviously what I’ll be dedicating my time to, but I’ve got plenty of stuff written that’s to be released. It’s exciting, and it’s nice to be able to do a bit of everything.’
He also looks back fondly on his time on the X Factor. ‘Some people don’t enjoy the process – some people despise it by the end, some people love it, but I really enjoyed my time on the show. It changed my life. It’s been hard recently, maybe the show doesn’t have the same effect as it once did, so sometimes to be attached to it can be quite hard on the individual. But when I was on there it was amazing, I had the best time, and I learned a lot from it. I’ll still speak to Simon [Cowell] and I’ve spoken with Nicole [Scherzinger, his mentor], and then a few of the contestants too.’
So he’d still recommend it? ‘Yeah, for sure! If you’ve got your head in the right place. There’s a lot of pressure and the nerves can get to you, but if you can keep on top of that, it’s amazing.’
MADAGASCAR – THE MUSICAL
Kings Theatre, Southsea