NINE years after winning top TV talent search the X Factor, Sam Bailey believes that she has managed to carve out a career for herself purely on merit.
As she begins a 10-week run at Manchester’s Palace Theatre in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast where she plays Mrs Potts, housekeeper to the Beast, Sam said: “When I auditioned they didn’t know who I was. “I went through five auditions and then got offered the part so I must be doing something right.
“But that was a real confidence boost. I get it that some people in the industry can get upset as they have been to college, to drama school and spent so long trying to get a part in a show and then I come along out of X Factor and get a job.
“I think that might have been the case when I was offered Chicago after winning X Factor but that was years ago and fortunately I happened to be quite good at it.”
Sam played Mamma Morton in the musical, ironically playing the prison warden - before her X Factor triumph, Sam worked as a prison officer.
Since then she has also appeared in Fat Friends the Musical and has also been much in demand as a singer.
“When people ask me what I do for a job now, I say I’m an actor because that’s pretty much what I do at the moment,” said Sam. “As much as I love going out gigging I’ve always wanted to do musical theatre and now I have that opportunity.
“I am very grateful and very lucky to be in a show that is so incredibly well known and I get to sing that song every night.”
That song is the show’s title track - Beauty and the Beast - originally sung by Celine Dion.
“It’s not a belter though,” said Sam who is known for her powerhouse vocals. “Actually I don’t get to belt anything in the show. I’m singing in character rather than belting it out like Celine Dion’s version.
“Although I do like to let go every now and then. I have my own little studio at home so I’ll go in there and sing a couple of Whitney songs to keep that side of my voice going, it’s a bit like maintaining yourself in the gym.”
Based on the classic fairytale, Beauty and the Beast has cast its own particular spell over Sam.
“I think everyone knows the story but the way it resonates with an audience is amazing,” she said. “It is such a beautiful show, I can’t believe I get to be part of it every night.
“The Disney magic and the illusions that are in this show are fantastic. Even I can’t work out how some of it is done and I’ve been in the show for seven months. - the whole thing really is magical.”
As Mrs Potts, Sam describes herself as the show’s mother figure.
“I think that’s particularly true for the Beast,” she said. “I see something in him that others don’t and he listens to me.
“I was called the heartbeat of the show by the director so I’ll certainly take that. I’m the one that brings everyone back to the story. Some of the scenes are so funny and a little bit bonkers then I’ll come on and keep everything on track.
“What has struck me every night is how involved the audience is in the show. You can almost see them leaning in to get closer to the characters.”
The show will be in Manchester until June before landing at the London Palladium for the summer.
“I’ve never been in a show where we actually get to unpack properly,” said Sam. “But that’s great. I love Manchester and I’ll finally get the chance to explore the city a bit. I have a social diary as I have a lot of friends there - I know I’ll being going out with some of the Real Housewives of Cheshire at some point; but I also like eating Munchies tucked up in bed after a show so I definitely won’t be going mad.”
Disney’s Beauty and the Beast The Musical, Palace Theatre, Manchester, until Saturday, June 4. Details from www.atgtickets.com