WINNING the X Factor may have changed Matt Terry’s life, but it’s a nightly trip an African island that has allowed him to get back to his roots, writes Steph Tye

The performer is currently getting roar-some reviews for his debut theatrical role as Alex the Lion in Madagascar The Musical, which is at the New Theatre Oxford from Tuesday to next Saturday. And he said it was fantastic to be on the stage.

“I trained in musical theatre originally,” said the 25 year-old singer.

“I did a three year course at the D&B Academy in London, so musical theatre is very much in my background. I was performing and auditioning, and came close on a number of occasions.

“Then I applied for the X Factor and went on to win it. So it’s nice to be able to return and slip straight back in to it. It really is like going back to my roots.”

Based on the smash-hit film of the same name, the musical extravaganza follows all of the familiar animal friends as they escape from their home in New York’s Central Park Zoo and find themselves on an unexpected journey to the madcap world of King Julien’s Madagascar.

Alex the lion is the king of the urban jungle, the main attraction at New York’s Central Park Zoo. He and his best friends – Marty the zebra, Melman the giraffe and Gloria the hippo – have spent their whole lives in blissful captivity before an admiring public and with regular meals provided for them.

Not content to leave well enough alone, Marty lets his curiosity get the better of him and makes his escape – with the help of some prodigious penguins – to explore the world.

“It’s a great show, lots of fun and full of great music,” said Matt.

The Oxford Times:

“The show brings together everything you will know and love from the Dreamworks film, with amazing sets, costumes and puppets. It’s an awesome night out for the whole family.

“It’s not what you expect it to be, and audiences have been loving it.

“The reaction from everyone has been great so far. If you love the movie, you will love the musical. I hope we see you all while we’re in Oxford.”

Matt and the rest of the cast have been on the road with the tour since last June.

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“It’s been great getting a chance to bond with people and take the show across the country,” he says. “The toughest part always is living out of a suitcase – and I find it tough as I love being at home. I love being in my own bed and smelling my own washing powder!”

Since winning X Factor in 2016, it’s been a non-stop whirlwind for Matt, recording music all over the world, scoring chart hits, racking up millions of streams of his single Sucker For You, on Spotify and featuring on Enrique Iglesias’s smash single, Subeme La Radio alongside Sean Paul.

“Winning the show changed my life,” he says. “It’s given me a career I love, I’ve bought a house, a car and I get to travel across the world.

“It’s been a rollercoaster couple of years, and incredibly busy, but it’s given me so many opportunities.”

Madagascar The Musical tour continues in to 2020, but Matt finishes later this year. So what is next for the star?

“I’m not sure I can tell you – but there are some exciting things lined up!”

Watch this space…

Tickets can be purchased from the New Theatre box office on George Street, by ringing 0844 871 3020 or by visiting atgtickets.com/oxford