Richie Hayes, singer

I’m a people person. If I wasn’t a performer, I’d be in sales.

When I left school, I got a job as a sales assistant in a decorating centre and then a tile shop. I was pretty good.

I’ve been in panto at the Gaiety for the last 12 years so going down to Limerick to play Buttons will make a nice change.

I met my wife Erica in panto in Dublin — she was a dancer.

Both myself and Erica are pretty short in stature so we try to be as health conscious as we can — if I put on a bit of weight I see it straight away. Doing two shows a day will keep me fit.

My parents have videos of me singing when I was four. I’ve been involved with musical societies since I was 11. One year, I won an award for my Artful Dodger in Waterford International Festival of Light Opera which led to me getting an audition with Cameron Mackintosh in the London Paladium. Turned out I was too old for the part. After that, there was a whole series of nearly getting the lead parts in London — with Lloyd Webber in The Beautiful Game; in The Lord of the Rings. But I was either too young, too old or too small — that was for Lord of the Rings! They actually went for taller lads. So I decided to give it one last go and moved to Dublin in 2000.

The constant rejections in this game can send you over the edge. In my case, I think my family found the rejections harder to take than I did. You’ve got to learn that it isn’t personal. That it’s just show business.

I’d made no secret of the fact that, after 14 years as a professional, I’d reached a point where I needed to up my public profile. So I jumped at the opportunity to be on The Voice. It was a roller coaster ride — I enjoyed the television element but found the competition part quite a challenge. But I was the second last person standing there and the only other person, besides the winner Pat, who now has a record contract.

I’ve become more mellow with age. I’m 35 and I waited so long to be successful that I’m delighted with the way things are going. I’m getting star billing now, after the exposure on TV, but that’s after years and years of hard work and experience. I know that work is going to come and go, that’s the way it is, so I take it day by day and when it comes I make the most of it and enjoy it.

We started our own stage school in Waterford and, after a while spent commuting from Dublin, decided to move down here full time.

Our son Taylor is five months old. Having him has been the best thing ever but at the moment it’s hard trying to keep day to day life going, running the school — and getting used to doing without sleep.

I loved my time on Celebrity Banisteoir and was only sorry we got knocked out so early.

I’m not a massive sports fan, but I really got into it. You do have to work for the respect of the team — especially when you’re a local like me — I think some of them were hoping to get a model like Pippa O’Connor. With a fella, they expect you to know the game.

To unwind, whenever I can get time, I go to the gym or go cycling. Actually, my new single ‘Superman’ was written with Lance Armstrong in mind. He was a great ambassador for the sport for so many years, it’s an awful shame what’s happened.

See An Evening with Richie Hayes at Watergate Theatre Kilkenny on Saturday, Nov 10 and The Theatre Royal, Waterford Friday Nov 16 and Saturday, Nov 17. He appears in Cinderella with Twink from Dec 21, 2012 to Jan 6, 2013 at the University Concert Hall.

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