Brian Beacom

THIS is a first. Who would expect a musical theatre performer to reveal their first reaction is to reject offers to appear in musical theatre?

But then Ben Adams is something out of the ordinary.

At the end of the nineties, Ben became part of the very successful boy band A1, until the band imploded a few years later.

However, Berkshire-born Ben didn’t blow his earnings on the fast life. And he developed a very different career in music.

The former public schoolboy invested in a recording studio and a new future. These days he’s a successful songwriter and producer, creating music for the likes of Craig David, Alexandra Burke and Ward Thomas.

That’s why although he has the looks and talent to play leads in musical theatre, he hasn’t been able to take up offers.

“I’ve always loved musical theatre but I’ve often turned it down,” he says, “especially when it involves tours.

“I just haven’t had the time to commit.”

He grins; “And I have to say my manager wasn’t entirely pleased when I said I was off to do this show because writing and producing can make seriously good money.”

‘This show’ happens to be Flashdance, in which Ben is appearing alongside Strictly’s Joanne Clifton.

Ben explains the timing was right.

“I had just written a musical called Eugenius, which is going on in London next year,” he explains. “And I felt it was time to step back from songwriting.

“I had spent six months in a room writing songs for other people and realised they get the chance to go off and have fun with them.

“No one knows who writes the songs. You don’t get the credit. So I wanted to go out there and have fun. I wanted to perform again.”

Flashdance is the ideal fun platform. The stage adaptation of the 1983 film which starred Jennifer Beals tells the story of welder Alex who dreams of becoming a dancer.

She works in a bar and one meets Nick Hurley (Ben) who happens to be her factory employer. Will she find love? Will she make it as a dancer?

Ben, now 35, says he leapt into this new world. He loves the challenges it creates.

“I have had to learn an American accent, for example, and I went to an accent coach so I could really get it right.”

He adds, grinning; “My jaw is sore from trying to get the vowels right. And I even tried speaking with the accent at home but my mum didn’t like it. It was annoying her.”

The character he plays isn’t dissimilar to his own. “I don’t own a steel works, but like Nick I haven’t had any financial problems or real responsibilities. I get to be me in a lot of places.”

When he admits he’s not one for the musical theatre audition process it’s coming from a position of calm confidence rather than arrogance.

“Thankfully I haven’t had to do too many auditions in my career,” he says. “I guess I auditioned for A1 when I was young - if you can count walking into my manager’s office and singing a song.

“Now, I tried and avoid them. It can be all about going in front of four people and having to prove to them I can do the job.

“I tend to think ‘I don’t have anything to prove to you.’ And sometimes you feel producers are almost looking to you to fail.”

He adds; “People know what I can do. And if they like they’ll hire me.”

At 16, almost 20 years ago, Ben was at school when a pal read in The Stage magazine of auditions being held for a boy band.

“My parents said I couldn’t leave school unless I got good grades. I was never very good at school, but I studied like mad and got mostly As.”

Ben attended some of the country’s best private schools such as Westminster and Bedales.

“I got in on a scholarship to start with. It was the only way. But my mum wanted the best for me.”

Did this auspicious start in life suggest he was pre-destined for great things?

“I don’t know how you can compare,” he reflects. “Who knows what would have happened if I’d gone to a state school.

“But I do know most of my friends are successful actors or businessmen, and all their children have gone to the same school as me.”

Ben Adams clearly has a wise head on his 35 year-old shoulders. There are many who have been through the boy band experience who crashed and burned.

“I was quite lucky because all the money I made went to a bank account controlled by my parents. They paid me a certain amount every month and I was happy with that.”

When Ben was reunited with his A1 band mates – the reasons for the break-up put to bed – he was saddened to learn later some weren’t in such a fortunate position.

“When the band split the guys went on to work in ‘normal’ jobs. When we got back together they were even discussing the best ways to go bankrupt it. It has been that tough for them.

“But I can understand the craziness that goes with business.”

He adds, in serious voice; “There’s nothing wrong with buying a Ferrari. But you have to be sure you will keep on earning and be able to afford it.”

Ben admits the pressure of being in a boy band, even one with a string of hits such as Caught in The Middle, was tough.

“We weren’t allowed girlfriends. We were told to smile at all times. We became caricatures of ourselves, versions of ourselves and that was fine. It was part of the job.

“And you realise very quickly it’s not about the best songs being successful. It’s about business. (They were formed Tim Byrne, by the manager man who also created Steps.

“I feel for so many of the young bands out there now because people don’t buy records anymore. Band members can’t afford to pay the rent.”

Ben adds; “Yet, the stars of today have millions of people at their fingertips with social media. They didn’t have to do the slog to Japan or wherever to promote an album.”

Ben reveals a little secret. When A1 were reunited in 2013 via TV show The Big Reunion a degree of fake news was involved.

“We had already done a TV show in Norway and the response was so great Universal records offered us a deal.

“Then came the The Big Reunion, where we had to pretend we were sorting out our differences, having all these serious chats and meeting for the first time in years.”

He adds, grinning; “It’s all about the business. We just went along with it.”

There’s no doubt Ben Adams was born to sing. He was head chorister at Westminster, and went on to make classical albums and appear before the Queen and the Pope.

“I didn’t particularly want to be in a boy band,” he says, smiling. “And I didn’t really want to be a chorister either. But I knew I wanted to sing.”

He has the opportunity again with Flashdance. And he’s happy in that professional life offers up so much variety.

And he allowed to have relationships?

“Just about,” he says, smiling.

* Flashdance, the King’s Theatre, August 5-12.