Candles lit for hope...

Charming man: Jonathan Ansell as he appears in 'Cinderella. PICTURE: ROBERT WORKMAN
Charming man: Jonathan Ansell as he appears in 'Cinderella. PICTURE: ROBERT WORKMAN
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X FACTOR star Jonathan Ansell, who is playing Prince Charming in Lyceum panto Cinderella, is also starring tonight in a Carols by Candlelight concert at Sheffield Cathedral.

Jonathan, who shot to fame eight years ago on the TV talent show as the lead singer of ‘pop opera’ boy band G4, will be giving a special reading as well performing classic Christmas carol O Holy Night at the event in aid of Breast Cancer Care.

Opera singer Emma Dennis will also be appearing. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in February 2011.

Jonathan has been an ambassador for the charity since 2009. He said: “I sadly lost my Aunt Brenda to breast cancer so I know first hand how important a charity like Breast Cancer Care is to those people living with a diagnosis and their families.

“Being in Sheffield at the Lyceum Theatre, I could not resist the opportunity to also perform for the charity, especially at such a giving time of the year. I look forward to seeing the Sheffield community come together to support such a worthwhile cause, and I hope you all enjoy the service as much as I plan to.”

Since the X Factor, Jonathan has become a chart-topping solo artist and emerging musical theatre star. He made his stage debut last year playing the lead role of The Man in Bill Kenwright’s production of Whistle Down the Wind.

He said: “I have just had a great time performing and combining it with singing work and I kind of get the best of both worlds.”

He added: “Theatre has always been somewhere I wanted to eventually head. It’s something I’ve always enjoyed watching and enjoying as an audience member, hoping that I could some day be on the stage.

“It’s a more stable career, I hope, than the record industry, especially when the actual purchasing of CDs is declining. The start of downloading really affected the industry.

“It’s great to dabble into that but theatre’s still very volatile but something that hopefully I can do for the rest of my career. It’s exciting and there are so many roles I’d love to play and so many wonderful venues to perform in.”

Jonathan acted in his first panto last year and “absolutely loved every second of it. It’s great to do another one this year. What makes panto so engaging is it’s such a mad tradition; no other country in the world has it and it’s great to do it

“It was the first experience of theatre for me and I think it is for many children. You always get drawn back to that and crave that experience again and relive it as an adult and feel like a kid again.”

He added: “The comedy is always a mixture. You have the blue stuff but it’s not blue enough for the kids to be offended. You get it and it’s funny and there’s stuff for the kids just to giggle at and there’s definitely always that entertainment for everybody. It also gets naughtier as the show rolls on, I think.

Jonathan has not been neglecting his singing career, either. He has been putting together a new album which fans were able to pre-order, creating the demand for it that speeded up its release, and will be performing live to promote it.

He said: “It’s still very much a mix of concerts, panto and theatre and combining all of it.”

Jonathan, who is 30, has had a busy few years, very different from when, as a student at Guildhall School of Music and Drama he started busking in Covent Garden with friends. When the X Factor auditions were advertised on TV he persuaded his busking chums to enter.

He said: “When we did The X Factor I was 22 so it’s quite mad actually. When I do look back it seems like it was a whirlwind: the amazing opportunities I’ve had, the variety of opportunities. I’ve had a great fun career so far and hopefully it’s going to continue in an exciting way in the future. It’s looking that way so far.”

He said he has been looking forward to exploring Sheffield during his stay. “I’m looking forward to seeing more and getting to know the city. It’s exciting to spend longer in a venue -- normally you’re on a bus, off a bus, in a venue and you really don’t see it so I’m looking forward to seeing more of it.

“My wife’s family are from Leeds and loads of them will all be flocking over. They’ll be there and cheering us on.”

One special fan is his daughter, Siena. He said: “She is two and came to my last pantomime and had a great time. She didn’t have a clue what was going on but she was dancing!

“She loves music and loves watching Mr Bloom (CBeebies star Ben Faulks, who plays Dandini) and will connect with it on stage.

“I’m really looking forward to that and maybe will actually get her to come up. That would be unbelievable. Doing a little trick with buttons that would be really cute.”

A new Ansell family star may be born in Sheffield!

Cinderella is at the Lyceum until January 6.