Sheffield theatre sees X Factor’s Rhydian in Biblical role

Rhydian Roberts as Pontius Pilate and Glenn Carter as Jesus in Jesus Christ Superstar''Pic by Pamela Raith
Rhydian Roberts as Pontius Pilate and Glenn Carter as Jesus in Jesus Christ Superstar''Pic by Pamela Raith
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The 2007 X Factor favourite Rhydian Roberts is on stage in Sheffield later this month in the role of Pontius Pilate in the hit musical Jesus Christ Superstar.

Here he answers questions about the show and his career.

How did you get involved with the show and what was it about the part that attracted you to it?

I was lucky enough to be invited by Bill Kenwright to his office to audition and seeing as it’s one of my favourites, it’s in my top three shows of all time, I thought, I must go in!

Initially they wanted me for Judas but I didn’t feel I could have done that role justice. So I said what about Pilate, and so sung them the song and discussed the role a little bit and I got offered the part.

So accepting the part was a no-brainer then!

It’s a great show. I watched it when I was at university. The score is fantastic, the story is probably the greatest love story of all time, and there’s a good male cast.

In this production there’s only three girls but about 16 guys, because of all of the disciples, which is quite unusual for a musical to have a male-heavy cast with male songs.

It’s a big responsibility though, playing Pilate, being the one who sentences Jesus to death.

How have you prepared for the role?

I’ve read the Bible, not completely from front to back, but quite a lot of it, especially the New Testament, and I’ve looked into the character, the part of Pilate, and there’s definitely evidence to suggest he did exist, he was the fifth governor. And he didn’t feel Jesus deserved to die, and there is evidence to also back that up.

So it’s quite nice to have something that’s not built purely on fiction. Whether you believe Jesus is the Son of God or not, that’s up to you, but we are portraying history here. A man called Jesus lived.

People might try and dispute that, but it’s true. And Pilate lived. And there was a Crucifixion. It’s whether you believe the Resurrection or not.

I’ve looked into all of that, I’ve seen the film, I’ve heard soundtracks, but the trouble with that is that every performance is different.

I’m very good friends with Steve Balsamo, who played one of the Jesuses back in the Nineties, so he’s my Jesus Christ Superstar mentor. And he’s given me some good advice.

Glenn (Carter) obviously knows Jesus as well, for many years now. It’s a great cast. I have a small role really, but it’s a significant role.

The X Factor – it’s what most people will know you from – is it a badge you still wear proudly?

The thing is, I’ve done a lot since then. I’ve sold a million albums, I’ve been in quite a few different shows, done my own tours.

The X Factor certainly launched me and it’s produced superstars. And brands. Look at One Direction, the biggest band in the world right now and they came third! So that makes me proud. JLS did extremely well, Olly Murs is doing amazingly well. Leona Lewis has had huge success.

That show gives you an amazing opportunity. I’ve never dissed that show. I don’t think I’m owned by that show, but I still watch it when I can.

Jesus Christ Superstar is at the Lyceum Theatre from April 20 to May 2.

Box office: at the Crucible, call 0114 249 6000 or go online at sheffieldtheatres.co.uk