H steps back into the role of Joseph – and stopping is last thing on his mind
When Ian Watkins, best known as H from Steps, was just nine years old, he had a dream.
"I was playing the youngest brother, Benjamin, in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, at school, and I used to watch the kid singing lead from the wings and wish that one day that could be me."
After enjoying a successful career in musical theatre and having been part of a group that scored 14 successive top five hits, Ian is set to step back into the role that he first played in London's West End in 2005.
He will be reviving the part of Joseph in the hugely successful Bill Kenwright production that comes to the Princess Theatre, Torquay, in November.
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"The musical is pure magic" he says. "Everyone knows the tale, most people will have performed in it or seen it at school or youth club, but it's timeless, with sing-along songs and it brings such a great moral message.
"Plus this production is great – it's very comic book, with cartoon sheep, singing camels, an over-the-top Elvis and me in a loincloth. What more could you want?" he laughs.
Very much at home on the stage, Ian has enjoyed a variety of roles in musical theatre over the years.
"It was nice to play the child catcher in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang," he explains. "It went completely against type for me, but I played him as this misunderstood character who had been moulded by his master.
"That was a fabulous production that was so lavish it felt like being in a movie."
However he says his most rewarding part to date has been in Erogenous Zones, which was straight theatre.
"It was a play in which I had pages of monologue – lots to learn. It was a real challenge but I loved it.
"I've been asked to do some Shakespeare next year and I'm hoping to be able to fit it into my schedule."
Ian's move to musicals came post-Steps after he graduated from the Royal Academy of Music, where his journey was followed by the six-part television series H Side Story. He also starred in Steps: Reunion, which was the highest rated TV show of 2011.
However, no one was more stunned than Ian that the Steps reunion ever took place.
"Nothing could have prepared us for the success of Steps in the first place – we signed a one-single deal and it became this monster everybody loved to hate. The critics panned us, but people power kept us going.
"There had been endless speculation over the years about the band getting back together again, but as far as we were concerned it wasn't happening. However we did agree to do a documentary to support the release of a greatest hits album.
"Then that turned into a number one album and we saw the huge support out there for us.
"Whereas in the past we were supposed to be the ultimate in 'uncool', now people were unafraid to say they loved us, loud and proud. The success of it took us all by surprise."
They went on to do a sell-out arena tour and have effectively not split up, leaving the door open for further band projects while they carry on with their own individual work for the moment.
As for the future, Ian says he is much more philosophical nowadays.
"I used to worry about chasing different roles," he says, "but these days I can enjoy a good work/life balance.
"To be able to work when I want and then chill by riding my horses – I'm very lucky."
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat runs at the Princess Theatre, Torquay from Tuesday to Saturday, November 5- 9.