Kent Life interviews Lee Mead

Fame, family and a farmhouse in Kent. Life for Lee Mead just gets better and better and now he's about to star in the musical Wicked. Kent Life finds out about his life on and off the stage

Kent Life interviews Lee Mead  

Fame, family and a farmhouse in Kent. Life for Lee Mead just gets better and better and now he's about to star in the musical Wicked.  Kent Life finds out about his life on and off the stage

I have always wanted a family. This is just a dream come true for me

For 28-year-old Lee Mead winning the role of Fiyero in the West End musical Wicked neatly fits in with his other new role as Dad. He will be joining the show about the same time his wife, actress and TV presenter Denise Van Outen, gives birth to their baby daughter. 

If he is excited about joining the cast of London's most popular musical hit, he is simply ecstatic about becoming a father. “I have always wanted a family,” he admits. “This is just a dream come true for me. I bought her first dress months before she was even born. I couldn't help myself.”

Lee and Denise were married last year in a secret wedding ceremony in the Seychelles. They met when Lee was a contestant on the BBC series Any Dream Will Do in Spring 2007. He captivated audiences (as well as Andrew Lloyd Webber) when he beat the competition to land the title role in Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Denise was one of the judges on the show.

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Despite a whirlwind romance, a chic wedding and bucketfuls of celebrity friends, the couple like nothing more than being at their new Kent farmhouse outside Ashford and simply ‘chilling out together.’

Lee chose Kent because of its rural situation and it proximity to both the coast and London. He couldn’t be happier. They have a pretty 17th-century farmhouse, complete with grazing sheep.

“We are really lucky to be somewhere so beautiful,” he says. “We're enjoying following little country lanes and finding random places to have lunch. We ended up in Pluckley the other day, the most haunted village in England. The White Horse pub was great.

“We have a garden with a vegetable patch. I’m not sure whether I have green fingers, but I am looking forward to having a try: pottering around the undergrowth and digging up the soil will be fun.”

He speaks fondly of his new home, although some things take getting used to. “We have an Aga. Neither of us have ever cooked on an Aga before now, but we have to learn how to use it or we'll go hungry! 

“I’m currently reading a book about Aga cooking so I can start trying out some recipes. I am not a particularly stunning cook, but I do make a wicked bolognaise!”

Returning to Kent each night after the performance is a priority. “I get home around 1am so if the baby is awake, I can be there for her. Having been on stage I’ll be fired up, so I’ll be happy to take on the night shift.”

Armed with a few good parenting books, Lee is looking forward to being a hands-on Dad. “I am so lucky. Part of the reason I took the role in Wicked is because it didn't take me too far away from my family during those first, vital few months. 

“I'll be changing nappies, rocking to sleep and generally being helpful.  I can't wait.  That's the kind of person I am and the kind of Dad I want to be.”

Lee is convinced that he and Denise are as ready as they can be for their new arrival.  “We're a team, and a team works best by sharing the tasks and get on with things together. I'd want it no other way. It's a very exciting time for us both.”

It's clear that Lee is taking his role as a father seriously. This effort is mirrored in his approach to his work. Months into his role as Joseph, he could still be seen outside the Adelphi Theatre signing autographs - a dedicated and generous thing to do.

“I know my job ends when the curtain comes down, but I felt very strongly that people had travelled miles to see the show and the least I could do was to go and meet them. It did get a bit mad sometimes with 300 people spilling out onto the road, bringing London's Strand to a halt, but it was lovely.”

Lee describes Wicked as a fantastic production and he is very proud to be part of it.  The show tells the story of the Witches of Oz and it's the largest grossing musical in the West End with record-breaking attendance figures and ticket sales.

He says: “I'm really excited to be returning to the West End in this incredible musical.  Fiyero is a fantastic part with some great songs. I feel very lucky to have been offered the role. “In this business, every job could be your last, so you can't take things for granted. To be going into a show that is so big and so popular is just wonderful. It's going to be fun!"

Having completed his 18-month stint as Joseph, Lee took himself off to New York to study acting at the Lee Strasberg Theater and Film Institute.

“A lot of people thought studying was a crazy move. They thought I should stay here and take my next role in the West End, keep my name in the spotlight, build on the Joseph success. But I wanted to go back and learn more about acting. It was the best thing I could have done and gave me the confidence to try for some acting roles.”

Since he was a child, Lee knew he wanted to be an actor. He was cast as Danny in Grease when he was 15 and his professional credits include Tommy, Miss Saigon and Phantom Of The Opera,  plus earlier this year a six-month national tour starring in Oscar Wilde's Lord Arthur Savile's Crime.

“Joseph was an incredible experience,” says Lee.  “It was the most amazing two years of my life. I knew I wanted to act since I was a kid. Winning the role of Joseph was literally a dream come true for me.”

He had hoped for a rest once Joseph ended. However he went on to record a solo album which he has really enjoyed - especially the input he had into the creative side of the recording and co-writing some of the songs.

“I loved doing the album and worked with some amazing people to create it. I did lots of writing at home and being in such a peaceful, beautiful place added something to the vocals.

“I have an out-house that I go to when I am writing. I have plans to convert it into a studio. Writing is a great way for me to wind down, it's important to have that down time.”

When he is not working, Lee describes himself as a “simple guy, with simple pleasures.”  He doesn't like partying; however he does, he says, like eating.

“I love food. I'll eat pretty much anything, but I particularly love Italian or Thai food.  I also love a good Sunday roast. I think because I am so busy during the week, by the weekend I just want to have a bit of peace and enjoy a nice meal chatting with friends.”

Since moving to Kent, Lee says he notices wildlife and much more than before. 

“When you spend lots of time in London and then come to Kent, you notice the greenery and the birds even more. It really makes you appreciate what you have around you.     

“We enjoy London, but it's so nice to come home. My home is my haven; my place to relax and re-charge the batteries. I love it.”

Lee Mead stars in Wicked, at London's Apollo Theatre, from 10 May. Nothing Else Matters is available on CD. For all supporting web links and to read more celebrity interviews, please click here

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