Noel Sullivan - comes to Manchester with Queen musical We Will Rock You,

As he comes to town in Queen musical We Will Rock You, Noel Sullivan reveals why he's taking fame slowly the second time around

With a name like Noel the star of the Palace Theatre’s Queen extravaganza We Will Rock You is the perfect addition to the festive season.

However, Noel Sullivan says he was born in July so it’s got nothing to do     with Christmas.

‘You can use the first Noel pun as a headline if you like,’ he says, his striking face lighting up with a laugh.

‘They did last year when I was in Flashdance. My name has nothing to do with Christmas; it’s just Noel - my mum’s Claire Noelle, so clearly it’s a name that’s been passed down.’

Christmas connection or not, Noel will be up north for the six week run of the Ben Elton Musical we will Rock You, playing a character called Galileo Figaro in a fantasy that includes loads of Queen hits to get them rocking in the aisles. A non-panto for the panto season, which pleases him, as he doesn’t feel that he’s yet the fame-magnet required for a traditional Christmas show.

 Noel, as many of us old enough recall, was a member of Hear'Say, one of the first pop bands to be manufactured as the result of a TV talent show (in this case Popstars) and watching their clunky, chemistry-lite performance of their smash Pure and Simple on You Tube it really is hard to imagine how the whole X Factor thingy caught on.

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It did make stars of the band’s girl division, Myleene Class, Kym Marsh, who’s now in Coronation Street and Suzanne Shaw currently in Emmerdale. The boys less so.

However, far from being the wannabe pop star who relished the ‘journey’ the whole pop idol experience was not a happy one for Cardiff- born Noel.‘I don’t like being told what to do, it was never a comfy jacket for me,’ confesses Noel, now a tall, lean and yes, hunky presence.

‘In Hear’Say I hated being told what to wear, how to be but I am glad I can look back at it with a positive eye. Now I am doing what I always wanted to do, finding roles from which I am able to learn my craft. My career is almost upside down, back to front but I’ve found I quite like a challenge.

‘I didn’t actually want to be in a pop band. It was the first time I’d ever been to a national audition. I was studying in Cardiff and was encouraged to go along. It was just a case of get as many auditions as you can for the experience but that audition changed everything.’

He admits that singing contests like the X factor are a brilliant launchpad for some careers and indeed his own but a life in the glare of the media wasn’t for him.

‘I hated it. For me, it was not so bad, all they could report was a bit of debauched teenage stuff, after all, I was only 20 but I didn’t think it was acceptable to see articles about my family’s past being sold in the Daily Star for 20p, stuff that happened to my mum. I just didn’t see the point of that, all because I was singing a pop song. I wouldn’t go back to that.’Musical theatre it seems has become a way he can pay his dues and after performances in Flashdance and Grease he now takes over a major    lead role.

‘I just love to do it,’ he admits. ‘I need to consolidate what I have been working on so I never have the carpet pulled out from under me ever again. This is how you’re supposed to build up a career!’

He may not be doing panto but this is the Palace’s Christmas show and therefore he’ll be spending most of it in Manchester.

‘I’m staying in Salford Quays to keep me away from temptation,’ he says.‘I’ll be there for most of Christmas but be back home for a couple of days. I’ll be doing all my Christmas shopping up there. I love areas like the Northern Quarter, I’ve worked on music projects there with one of my friends, he’s the son of the TV doctor Chris Steele.’

A blunt ‘no’ followed by a laugh is the response to the question whether he’ll be seeing former Hear’Say bandmate and Corrie stalwart, Kym Marsh while in Manchester.

‘I speak to a couple of them (Hear’say) but really it was just like a job,’ he explains.

‘Once you give it up, you lose touch. We were all from different walks of life and just to come out of there with a couple of relationships, I think I’m quite lucky.’We Will Rock You is at the Palace Theatre from December 3rd 2010to January 15th 2011.

To book tickets ring 0844 847 2277.