You're a couple of months into the Rocky Horror Show tour; how is it going so far?
It's going well! I've been doing it now for three months and I'm nearing the end of my stint. We're in Edinburgh at the moment and then I'm doing Manchester and I finish! It's been fun, we've had really good audiences - I've never seen anything like it in my time on stage before!
Were you a fan of the film or the show before starting on the production?
It's always a show you want to do it as a student when you're studying musical theatre, but it's quite rarely done at that level. Richard O'Brien has a policy with it that actors should be paid at some level for their work. Also, he doesn't want it over-exposed, which is really good. It's so crazy to be a part of and I've never had so much fun onstage before.
You play the character of Rocky, whose skimpy costume is rather well-known. Is it odd spending a whole show in just your pants?
I wore the pants for the first time in dress rehearsals and really I just lost all of my inhibitions. It's amazing how liberating it is to jump out of my Rocky truck in just leopard print pants!
The Rocky Horror Show is famous for encouraging audiences to engage with the production, whether it be by dressing up or shouting out during the show. What's been the best audience heckle you've heard so far?
Some of them are a bit rude; I'm not sure I can repeat a lot of them! A lot of the standard heckles are really funny[ as for particularly interesting ones at the moment - especially with the current Jimmy Savile nonsense, people tend to shout that out at the narrator a lot - they're all really good and very clever.
We treat the heckles like laughter, if we get them we know we're doing a good job. Glasgow and Edinburgh were great for really nice ones and Birmingham had some quite aggressive heckles. We take them like a laugh; we wait a moment for them and sometimes we're thrown if there isn't one.
Around this time last year, you were touring with We Will Rock You; what was your best experience of that tour?
I think definitely it would be the opening night at The Playhouse in Edinburgh. We had a full house and Brian May came on and played. It really was electric - one of the best theatre moments I've had. In Edinburgh, it was particularly amazing because it was the closing venue for the run. The other actors and I were just standing onstage thinking, "When are we going to be in a moment like this again?!" But it was really special and I think the audience felt that too, they really appreciated it.
You've been making a name for yourself in rock and pop musicals like those, despite a more classical background; have you come to enjoy the rock style more?
I do enjoy musical theatre and you're right to ask about that, because my background is as a classical crossover artist. The promoters and writers and casting directors of these rock musicals, they've been getting in touch more than those on the more classical side! I think that they're comfortable casting me in these parts and I can adapt the voice. A lot of classical singers might not be able to sing Seven Seas of Rhye!
Do you think you've shed the 'X-Factor' tag now?
No, and I don't think there's any rush to do that. The X Factor, I'm very proud of that show, and it produces now megastars and brands, like One Direction. Olly Murs is doing very well and Leona of course. I think most people would agree I did the best out of my year. I think I'll always be asked about it, like AlEd Jones will always be asked about "Walking in the Air". He's a friend of mine and he's said he's resigned to it now, just like Jason Donovan will probably always be asked about Neighbours.
As long as I can carry on doing great work off my own back and not just off The X Factor name, casting directors wouldn't cast me just off of that, they'd take someone from last year's series to play Khashoggi or Rocky. I always wanted to be in musical theatre and it just gave me an opportunity to have a recording career as well. You can call the shots when you want to tour, so it lets you be flexible.
You've always sung and performed in musicals - is there one single dream role you still really want to play?