Barry Conrad is a force to be reckoned with. Whilst he is perhaps most known for competing on X-Factor Australia in 2013, the singer is also a successful songwriter, actor, health and fitness advocate, and has just been signed as a model.
Recently, Barry has been touring Australia with the Hairspray Arena Spectacular, starring as Seaweed J. Stubbs. Next year, he will be taking on a brand new musical challenge, as he stars as Kenickie in GREASE: The Arena Experience, alongside his former X-Factor contestant and Eurovision star Dami Im.
We recently caught up with Barry to discuss his musical theatre adventures, his secret hidden talents, and what the future has in store for him.
Hi Barry! First off – how did you first get into performing?
Hey and thanks for having me! Ever since I can remember, I’ve been around it. I grew up in a pretty musical family. I’d sing all the time, make up songs, and take part in school talent shows and musicals any chance I got.
You’re perhaps most known for being on The X-Factor in 2013. What did you think of the talent show experience as a whole?
As a whole, it was incredible. One of the hardest and most rewarding things I’ve ever done. I went through so much, both professionally and personally, during that experience. I grew in every way, gained great opportunity and met some pretty special people along the way too.
You competed against Dami Im, who’s just been cast alongside you in GREASE: The Arena Experience. Are you excited about being reunited with your fellow X-Factor alumni?
Yeah, I really am. We were both on Team Minogue (Dannii Minogue was our mentor). It goes without saying Dami’s mega-gifted. But what I’ve always loved most about her is how beautiful a person she is.
A lot of life’s happened since X-Factor too, and we haven’t seen a lot of each other. So to be reunited like this is pretty ace. Plus, Dannii actually played Rizzo back in the day! Funny how things play out and how we’re all now part of the GREASE family.
You’ve been cast as Kenickie in GREASE, what are you going to bring to the iconic role?
It really is iconic, and I’m so stoked to be taking on Kenickie. Man, what a character. And I guess you’ll just have to catch a show to see what I bring to the role (haha).
You’re currently touring Australia as Seaweed in Hairspray Arena Spectacular. How has the experience been for you so far?
Oh man, amazing. Life-changing actually. Like GREASE came while I was doing Hairspray, Hairspray came along while I was doing Violet (my very first musical). Pretty special.
Getting to work with this cast means constantly being a sponge, growing and soaking up any knowledge I can. And what a ridiculously-talented, ace group of people I get to do all this with too. I’m a blessed guy and very thankful.
What attracted you to the role of Seaweed?
What I dig about Seaweed J. Stubbs is that he’s this larger-than-life cool cat, but anchored in a very real, human story. And the greater message of self-worth and equality resonated with me so much that it was hard not to be attracted to it.
You’ve focused a lot on musical theatre recently, but you’ll be returning to New Zealand in December to perform at Coca-Cola’s Christmas in the Park. What can fans expect from your performance?
Fans can expect to have the best time! The show’s all about people coming together and celebrating the festive season. Good vibes all around. So I’m really looking forward to it.
My family lives in New Zealand too, so getting to spend time with them on top doing the show is just a bonus.
You’ve already opened for and toured with a number of incredible artists including Brian McKnight, Craig David, Eric Benet and K-Ci & JoJo. Who would be your dream artist to tour with?
Wow, tough question! I’ve got so many favourites, how long do we have (haha)? Off the top of my head though, Justin Timberlake, Beyoncé and Bruno Mars come to mind.
You’ve also dabbled in films in the past, starring in musical comedy-drama The Sapphires. Do you have more films in the pipeline, or is it something you’d like to continue with in the future?
Yes and yes. I’d love and hope to do a lot more films in the future.
You’re a man of many talents – not only are you a singer and actor, you write music for yourself and others, are a health and fitness advocate, and have also been newly signed as a model. Do you have any other secret talents under your belt?
Well, I’m actually the world’s biggest foodie. You don’t even understand, I can eat
anyone I know under the table (haha).
On your website, you talk about The BCS Movement, Bring Change Somewhere, an acronym formed from your initials. Can you tell us a bit more about this?
I looked at my initials one day, wanting to come up with an acronym that stood for something more than just myself. And not some self-indulgent, publicity gimmick either.
The BCS Movement is all about bringing positive change to your world and sphere of influence, no matter what that looks like. Whether it’s helping someone out financially, volunteering at a homeless shelter or just offering a smile, it all matters.
What does 2017 have in store for Barry Conrad?