Killian Donnelly Answers… some more…

I hope that this time my interviewee will need no introduction. After he most kindly agreed to answer some questions for me whilst still in Billy Elliot, he once again allowed me to ask some more following his move to The Commitments, a brand-new show which has recently opened on the West End. I was curious about the production and Killian agreed to enlighten me. Please read on to find out more…

1. So, The Commitments. What is the show about?

K: The Commitments is about a group of kids living in Dublin, who in order to escape their working class lives become part of a soul band. The show reflects the bickering and self-destruction of the band. Nothing life changing but incredibly entertaining.

2. You play Deco. Who is he? Can you tell us more?

K: Declan Cuffe (Deco ‘The Soulman’) is a stubborn prick. He’s hated by everyone, but he doesn’t care because he has a gift. His voice. As the lead singer [of The Commitments] he becomes very cocky and big-headed and diva-like. I’ve just based him on people I’ve worked with (winks).

3. Did you have to do any special research to get into the role?

K: Not really. I’d read the book and seen the film numerous times.

4. Are there any similarities between you and Deco?

K: He’s a much better singer! (N: For anyone who has witnessed Killian, particularly as Deco, you will know that this could not be further from the truth)

5. As mentioned, the Commitments started as a book (by Roddy Doyle who wrote this production) and later became a film. How does the stage production compare?

K: The stage production is a combination of the book and the movie. We take the best of both. We always wanted to be our own entity, never a tribute act.

6. Was this a role you have always liked/wanted?

K: Definitely!

7. Which is your favourite track to perform and why?

K: Midnight Mover. It’s the first track we perform where The Commitments actually start to sound good. We’ve the craic on stage.

8. How were rehearsals?

K: Rehearsals were eight weeks in a hall in Kensington. Basically spent making the band sound brilliant when they needed to be and bloody awful when they should.

9. Do you have a favourite scene?

K: The audition sequence. It’s so quick and snappy with a great medley of songs. (N: It’s also very funny)

10. Why should everyone come to see it?

K: It’s a great play with great songs. You’ve honestly never seen anything like it. Plus we all love singing these songs.

And to finish – a few of my usual quick fire questions:

What is your favourite (non-Commitments) song? K: The Luckiest – Ben Folds

Where is your favourite place? K: Family home

If you were an animal which would you be and why? K: A sloth. I love to sleep.

Is there a little known fact about yourself that you’re able to reveal? K: I love apples.

What’s your favourite joke? Too rude to say.

What’s your favourite way to spend the day? In bed, relaxing with a cup of tea and a good flick. Bliss.

Thank you again to Killian for taking more time out, I am always so grateful to those who have. I hope that answering the questions wasn’t to much of a chore and I also hope that you all enjoy reading the interview. In case you missed it, you can read my original interview with him here:

Anyone wishing to find out my thoughts on, and more about The Commitments can read my review here (In short – amazing):

Official Theatre also conducted a recent interview with both Killian and his co-star Denis Grindel (who plays Jimmy Rabbite) which you can view here: . Alternatively you can visit the website ( ) and book yourself some tickets – you won’t regret it.

The whole cast are simply brilliant and I think I laughed my way through the whole show. I cannot wait to get back there. I feel privileged to be able to have interviewed the man being hailed as “the star of the show” by many different reviews and I sincerely hope this show has a long run.

Keep Dreaming,

Naomi xx


David Muscat Answers…

Ladies and Gentleman, may I please introduce to you my next interviewee….David Muscat. If you are unfamiliar with the Australian actor then please read on to learn more. If you are already know about him then I hope this interview will help you to learn more about him.

1. Please introduce yourself….

I’m David Muscat, currently working in Billy Elliot the Musical. I grew up in the Western Suburbs of Melbourne (Australia), at a time when boys dancing wasn’t widely accepted. I was raised by my Great Grandparents Marie & Bernie Bresnan. I’ve been living in London now since May 2010. I like long walks along short beaches.

Myself with David after Billy Elliot in May

Myself with David after Billy Elliot in May

2. You’re Australian, what is the Aussie theatre scene like?

I’m no expert, so in my opinion… I think it’s very similar in a lot of ways but it’s just much bigger here. In Australia there are thousands of extremely talented people all wanting to make a living doing what they love, so in that sense it’s very similar in the competitive nature of the industry. The UK has the West End which, along with Broadway, is the highest platform to be involved in, in the world. Australia doesn’t have that….yet, but some day you never know. There is a lot of passion for the arts in Australia and I’m a firm believer that back at home there’s an extremely high standard of work being done.

3. What brings you to the UK?

Initially I came over for change, to live somewhere where you don’t know what’s around the corner and challenge my comfort zones. One of the major advantages of London, is it’s close proximity Europe. I spent the majority of my first few years here working and travelling. So for me, being able to be in a different country within an hour was a big draw card. You can be flying for 6 hours and still be over Australia back home. I’ve been fortunate to travel to a lot of countries over the past few years, take part in the Running of the Bulls festival in Pamplona and drink many, many beers in Germany’s Oktoberfest.

4. Are audiences very different between here and Oz?

I think there’s a lot more audience members coming through the doors here thanks to tourism, but other than that I think the lovers of theatre are the same between both countries. There’s always people eager to support theatre, from local non-professional theatre companies, brand new works to large scale productions.

5. If you weren’t acting, what would you be doing?

I’ve spent the majority of my working life not acting, most of my working life has revolved around office work either in Customer Service or Sales. Previous to getting into Billy here in London I’d worked for a leading UK website as an Advertising Account Manager.

6. You’re currently in Billy Elliot. You have to do a bit of dancing in that – is this something you enjoy?

I’ve danced for most of my life. When I was a young kid I had a condition where my legs were turned inwards at the hips, so I was always tripping over when running. The doctor suggested that I be taken to ballet classes to open out my hips. So from the age of 5 I was doing Jazz, Tap and Ballet at a local dance school. During my childhood, dance was always kept secret from the kids at school and I managed to keep it that way till I was about 16, when I finally left my dance school. I’ve always had a love of dance.

7. What do you like most about Billy?

There is a lot to like. In no particular order, it’s an amazing piece of theatre, so it’s great being a part of something that’s so well written and performed. All the people involved – behind the scenes, on stage and in production are great to work with, always fun and up for a laugh. The audiences are amazing as well and always very supportive. Tap dancing in a 7 foot mechanical dress is also a highlight.

8. Is the Australian production different to the London one? If so, how?

It’s 93.76% the same. Set wise, it was weird walking onto the London stage for the first time after not doing the show for 3 years as even the wallpaper on the set was exactly the same. Show wise, there was a couple of minor changes scene wise. In Australia, they had cut the London audition panel scene in Act 2 and the riot at the end of Act 1 also had differences. Also, Mr Braithwaite in the Australian production was a combination of Big Davey & Mr Braithwaite (Big Davey Braithwaite), so he was one guy instead of being split.

9.Is there any role in theatre that you would like to play? Why?

Psendolus in a Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum. Such a comedy driven role, something to really sink your teeth into and interacting with the audience is something I love to do.

10. And if you could sing ANY song from a show (even a female one), what would it be?

I’d love to be able to rock out Gethsemane without fear of my vocal chords exploding. Such a powerful song. Either that or It’s Raining Men.

11. Who are your influences and inspirations?

A lot of the TV I watched growing up was good old fashioned British comedy. Carry On films, Are You Being Served, Benny Hill, The Goodies, Dad’s Army, Blackadder, Only Fools and Horses, Steptoe and Son, Allo Allo, The Young Ones, Fawlty Towers, Red Dwarf etc. I grew up on these programmes and loved the honest style of humour.

12. You also perform in cabarets (Singer’s soiree etc) – are these something you would like to keep doing? What do you like about them?

I’m always happy to be involved with charity events because I think there’s a lot of people out there that need assistance and for the price of some time and effort it’s the least I can do. The added advantage is it gives you something else to think about, so it’s a welcomed break from the day to day routines.

13. West End Bares. You took part in this event, could you tell us all about it? How did you get involved? Would you do it again?

West End Bares is an event that MadTrust have put on for the past few years and is a night of immense fun and frivolity. The night raises money for MadTrust and goes to all the good work they do. Each year several people are asked to choreograph a number and they then go and do that with a team of dancers of their choosing, who are from various shows on the West End.
Racky Plews, a fantastically talented director/choreographer (she makes me say that), was asked to do the opening number. She asked if I’d like to be involved and after several coffee meetings and a few bombed ideas, she decided to run with my Neil Patrick Harris Tony Awards Opening idea. We only had about 3 rehearsals, but I think all those involved did a brilliant job.
It was a great night and I’d love to be involved again in some way next time.

Click here to see the sort of happenings at West End Bares:

Mad Trust also hold West End Eurovision each year, where the various shows perform a routine as if they were on the Eurovision Song Contest. They all go head to head for votes. Turquoise was a bit of fun, a few of us from Billy (David, Simon Ray Harvey, Matty Dale and Craig Armstrong) entered into the West End Eurovision contest to raise money for MadTrust and take part in a cracking night. It was great fun and was the closest I’ll ever come to being in a boy band. We got some fantastic support, a lot of people worked hard on it and we really enjoyed the ride.

See the Turquoise boys in action here:

14. Any career highlights?

My favourite so far has been going to the Olivier Awards with some of the Billy peeps and being there when they won the only award that had evaded them for 8 years. Celebrating the Audience Awards was epic fun! On a personal note, sometimes I still pinch myself when I think about where I’ve come from, the local dance school I went to in a little scout hall in Footscray (Melbourne, Australia) and performing in local amateur theatre productions for most of my young adult life to now being fortunate enough to step out on a West End stage each night. It’s something I dreamed about as a kid.

15. Is there anything you would like to achieve that you haven’t yet?

Loads….so much. I’d like to continue working in the entertainment industry and I’d like to create new things across multiple platforms. I’d also like to be invited to either a jelly wrestling competition or local Crufts event before I pass on.

I’m hoping to do a new film later this year. It’s a film I’m working on with Nothin Or Double Films. It’s to be shot in a documentary style, following the journey of a guy, living with his fiancé and best mate from school, with a kooky neighbour and rock legend roadie. It’s all improvised, non scripted. Video teaser is coming soon – Twitter account: @AirGuitarTheMov

16. Outside of MT what do you get up to?

At the moment, not much. 8 shows a week takes it toll and the little time you have is either spent recovering or spending time with those dear to you. But when time permits I try to keep moving forward with creative projects. That and furthering my paper-mâché skills.

And now for some more general questions:

1. If you were an animal, which would you be and why?

I’d be a Koala…. just like the idea of hanging around and being cuddled all day.

2. What single item couldn’t you live without?

My TV…. it’s always there for me…. in good times and bad.

3. Favourite band/singer/recording artist?

Australian band; Thirsty Merc and Mumford & Sons.

4. If you could have any THREE guests to dinner, who would you choose? (Can be anyone, alive or dead).

Gordon Ramsay
Jamie Oliver
Nigella Lawson

Would be the most nervous cooking ever, but would be fun!

5. If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Chicken Parmigiana. All day, everyday!

6. If you could choose a superpower, which would you pick?

The power to be able to fold fitted sheets without just rolling them up and throwing them in the wardrobe in anger.

7. Do you have any bad habits?

Several… same as anyone else I guess. Putting my french fries in my chocolate sundae is one.

8. Are there any unusual or little facts about yourself that you are willing to share with us?

I grew up with my Great Grandparents and for some time as a little’un, we also had my Great Great Grandmother with us.

I would like to thank David very much for his time and for some very interesting insights. If you don’t already then I recommend checking out MadTrust. It is a very worthwhile charity (supporting those living with HIV and AIDS) and the events they put on are great fun. Follow them on Twitter @MADTrust or go to
You can follow David on Twitter @DavidMMuscat and if you happen to be watching Billy then I also suggest you stop to say hello. He is well worth a follow, so now you know where to find him, please look him up.
Keep Dreaming,
Naomi xx


Steph Parry Answers….

Today’s interview is with the thoroughly lovely West Ender Steph Parry who agreed to tell us more about herself and her work. An experienced performer, Steph can currently be found at the Novello theatre dancing and singing in the world of ABBA. As well as Mamma Mia, she has a wealth of shows under her belt. I hope this interview will be an interesting insight into her world.


1. When (at what age) did you know that you wanted to perform for a living?

I’ve always performed, it was just something I did. My mum has tapes of me singing from the age of 2! I don’t think I took it seriously as a career choice until I was 19 though. I always had instilled in me the importance of an education and I stayed at school to do my A Levels. It wasn’t until I’d left school and got myself a job as a full time doctors receptionist that I realised what I really wanted to do was perform. I had an epiphany one day when I was filing some notes and went home that afternoon and applied for drama school. The rest, I guess, is history.

2. As a Welsh person, how do you feel about the ‘ability to sing’ stereotype that is attached to all Welsh folk?! (It does seem to be true!)
Well, I’m the daughter of 2 singers, my Mum and Dad are a vocal harmony duo, so it’s no surprise that I can sing. Believe me, not every welsh person can sing….I’m sure my very best friend from school would be the first to say this as she’s tone deaf, bless her! I think, in Wales we’re encouraged to sing….it just seems to be something we do!
3. What would you be doing if you weren’t performing?
Hmm?! Tricky one, if my career suddenly ended tomorrow I’d probably go into Personal Training as you may have noticed that I have a passion for fitness. But I’m not sure I could ever not perform….even if I went into fitness, you’d probably find me fronting an exercise DVD or “performing” somewhere!
4. What advice would you offer to anyone wanting to get where you are?
DON’T GIVE UP!! Good things come to those who wait….and those that work bloomin’ hard. It’s taken me years to get where I am today and there’s been times where I’ve thought, “is this heartache really worth it?” I’ve doubted myself and my ability but thankfully something told me to keep pushing on and eventually I got there. I always got told, if there’s something else that you can do and want to do….do that! Because this business is hard! You have to develop a tough skin and be willing to fight for what you want.
5. Do you remember your first West End performance? What was that like?

Ha ha! Nope! It’s like a blur! I just remember being slightly scared. That’s always the way with me, especially when I first go on for my covers, I get through it and it all happens but I don’t remember a thing!
6. You have recently joined Mamma Mia after a stint in Billy Elliot. Two very different shows, do you have a preference and why?
Ha ha! I can’t answer that!! As you say, they’re both so different and I love them both for very different reasons. Billy is a show with such amazing heart and the talent of the kids just blows your mind. Mamma Mia is such amazing fun, you can’t help but get carried away with the singing and dancing at the end. I feel like I’m at a pop concert EVERY NIGHT!!
7. You understudy some FANTASTIC roles. Which is your favourite to play?
I don’t think I could’ve answered this until the other night when I went on for Donna. As much as Tanya and Rosie are brilliant parts….Donna is “me”. Yes, she’s a good few years older than me but I relate to her so much. And belting the end of Winner (The Winner Takes It All) is a pretty special moment!

8. Which scene has been your favourite to perform (including from all of your previous shows – Sound of Music, Oklahoma, MM etc)
I did a Ray Cooney farce a few years ago called “Not Now Darling” with a fantastic comedian called Damian Williams….His character was having an affair and I played his wife who came home unexpectedly. I think the scenes with him were the most fun I’ve ever had on stage….mainly because I’d spend the whole time trying not to laugh.
9. If you could perform in any other show which would you choose? Why?
Oh god! That’s a hard one, though I think it would have to be either Les Mis or Wicked. Those are two roles I would LOVE to play…..Elphaba and Fantine.
10. Do you ever get nervous and if so, how do you combat the nerves?
I get more nervous for auditions than I do for shows. I’m surprised people have actually given me a job as I’m so rubbish at auditions. I’m someone who thrives on pressure when it comes to performing and I’m ridiculously calm backstage….to the point where people worry that I’m ok because I don’t flap! I get a few little butterflies in my stomach but that’s it….my main aim when I walk out onstage is to enjoy myself because if you don’t absolutely love what you’re doing, what’s the point in doing it? I just wish I could be so cool in auditions!
11. Describe yourself in three words
Ambitious, friendly and tall.
12. What ONE thing couldn’t you live without?
Tea!!! Love a good brew. Milk no sugar if anyone’s buying?!
13. What has been the highlight of your career to date?
I think a really special moment was the night I played Mrs Wilkinson on Ryan Collinson’s last Billy show. The atmosphere was electric and just before the show he said to me “Lets just go out there and enjoy it” and that’s exactly what we did.
14. You have worked on cruise ships – what was that like? What were you expected to do? Please tell us more 🙂
I loved ship life, mainly because it was one big party! I got to travel the world, sing and get paid for it! I would advise anyone to do a ship, it was such a great learning curve for me. We’d have to learn a total of 9 45 minute shows which would be rotated throughout a 14 day cruise. I also had my own cabaret which was amazing.
15. Your career has been quite varied, with several musicals, pantomimes and cabarets (including The Sound of Music in Cyprus). Is musical theatre where your heart lies? Do you fancy branching into TV etc?
I’d love to do TV and film. I’ve done a fair few commercials in my time but not quite broken through into the TV world. I love Musical Theatre though and there’s a wide range of parts that I would love to play so I’m not done with it yet. I guess I’d like to keep my career varied, I’m an actor at heart, whether that’s in a play or a musical or TV….as long as I’m acting, I’m happy.
16. How and where would you choose to spend your ideal day?
By the beach, I miss the beach so much having grown up by the sea. It would probably involve a big bunch of friends and family, a BBQ, lots of food and laughter.

17. When you are not on stage, how do you like to spend your spare time?
In the gym! I’m a bit of a gym bunny. It’s something I’ve gotten into in the last few months and I’m always trying to cook up healthy nutritious recipes. I spend a lot of time socialising, I love my friends and love to catch up with them whenever I can.
18. Are there any interesting but little known facts that you can tell us about yourself?
Not that I can think of?! I was once stood up on a date because the guy was in a coma! Ha ha! That do?

I really hope that I can get along for a performance where Steph is playing Donna, I know she’d be brilliant (Dianne is super too of course!) but why not follow her on Twitter @thatStephParry where she will inform us all of any of her ‘stand in’ dates. Otherwise she can be seen living it up with the rest of the cast so do pop along and see her in action.

Apologies for any strange formatting issues – in translation from writing this up and publishing it, my formatting seems to be getting lost. Once again, a huge thank you to Steph for taking the time out of her busy schedule to answer these.


Keep Dreaming,

Naomi xx

Broadway to Bluegrass…ish Part 2

Well. Just when you think you have been to a fantastic gig that would be hard to match, it’s beaten. Sunday night was truly fantastic and I had a brilliant time. But Monday was even better. Having met up with my ticket holder we proceeded into the venue to get another nice spot towards the front. Score number 1 – cracking view. There was some speculation as to who would be appearing with Ramin this time around – Simon Bailey had not seemed too sure when I asked him on the Sunday – but a tweet had gone out earlier in the day announcing that not only was Simon joining him again, but Hadley Fraser would be too. Score 2 – Ramin, Simon AND Hadley.

Once again, the excitement was rapidly building inside the venue (as with Sunday this was The Venue, 229 Great Portland Street). I far prefer small gigs to large ones and this venue fits the bill nicely, though not so well for anyone who has trouble standing as the seating is very limited. On the plus side it has a raised stage so all of the band can be seen and a bar right next to it so you can get a drink and still be involved in the concert.

As with Sunday Ramin came out to rapturous applause and kicked off with ‘Broken Home’. This was a great idea to start off as it is so lively and, being an album track, known by a majority of the audience. Ramin was absolutely on top form and was laughing and joking, possibly appearing even more spritely than he had been the night before. ‘Road to Find Out/ Wild World’ was next and then ‘Here I go’. This song was most appropriate as it was written by Ramin and it was first tried out at the Thank You Gig he did for those people who had preordered his album (‘Ramin’) and had had to wait for it’s release for rather longer than planned. It was a lovely song, very catchy, and lovely to hear it in the same place as he first aired it six months ago.

Another sing along and a few tears were next when he once again performed ‘Constant Angel’, a general consensus showing that this is one of the favourites for many people on ‘Ramin’and then a lovely rendition of ‘Music Of The Night’ – in Ramin’s own words “where it all began for many of you”. The crowd sang along, and although the tuning (from the audience, never from Ramin) was somewhat debatable it was a magic moment.

May I apologise in advance for the ‘singing’…it’s not me! I don’t sing while videoing!
Music Of the Night:

‘Down to the River and Pray’ followed, sung pretty much acapella and this went straight into Cathedrals, a song I just love. One more song ‘See Her Smile’ was next and then it was time for Simon Bailey to stand up and take the stage. After a few blatant plugs from Ramin about Simon’s forthcoming album ‘Looking Up’ (which can be preordered – more about this later) they both went into their cover version of ‘Murder In The City’. Simon followed this with ‘Goodbye’. This song has me in tears every time and despite the fact Simon said he was nervous you would never have known. Perfection!

Simon and Ramin perform Murder In The City:

A song called ‘Make them Hear You’ was next, from the musical ‘Ragtime’. Ramin swore that it was a role he could never play, but I would say, from listening to him sing that song, that the role was made for him! The first half was completed with Ramin’s version of ‘Oh! What A Beautiful Morning’, from Oklahoma, and he was joined on stage, much to the surprise and pleasure of everyone there, by Stephen Rahman Hughes and Lee Mead. The threesome have recently completed a series of ‘West End Men’ concerts and despite the fact that this was completely spontaneous and unrehearsed and Lee was apparently ‘half cut’ (as he put it), this was such fun and a fabulous way to round off the first part of the entertainment.

The ‘West End Men’ sing Oh What A Beautiful Morning:

In case you are unfamiliar with the names above, Rahman Hughes has a teatrical background having appeared in Bombay Dreams and also in the group Teatro, alongside Simon Bailey (Jeremiah James and Andrew Alexander). Lee Mead won the TV talent show ‘Any Dream Will Do’ to become Joseph in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat and is married to Denise Van Outen.

The beginning of the second half was the part that I think many people were looking forward to the most. Hadley Fraser (a hugely talented friend of Ramin’s) joined him on stage and for four songs the Sheytoons were reunited. Starting with ‘Driftwood’ the guys performed like the pro’s they are, sounding every bit as good as we all hoped and had the audience revelling in seeing them together. Between each song there was a bit of banter and – joy of joys- talk about an official Sheytoons reunion sometime in early 2013. ‘Losing’ followed, then ‘She Is Loved’ where there was a sticky moment with forgotten words and a lot of laughter. The crowd totally got behind this and it just added to the light hearted and fun atmosphere of the whole evening. The duo finished by singing ‘Broken’, another crowd pleaser and the place erupted throughout.

Unfortunately I was only able to capture two of the Sheytoons songs, but here are the links to Driftwood and Broken:

Two covers followed – ‘White Blank Page’ by Mumford and Sons (another favourite somg of mine) came after ‘The Once and Future Carpenter’, another well written and tuneful song by the Avett Brothers. ‘Solitude’, one of Ramin’s own compositions came before the rather fun version of the hymn ‘Closer Walk With Thee’ where every member of the band had the chance to sing, with verses sung by Katie Birtill and Steve Young and with backing from the drummer, guitar and keyboard players.

A stunning performance of ‘Bring Him Home’ from Les Miserables brought the house down and then everything was livened up once again with Johnny Cash’s ‘Folsom Prison Blues’, taking Ramin back to some of his musical influences. The final song was ‘Coming Home’, another album favourite, and once again the audience helped to carry the song by singing every word along with the man himself.

As always Ramin and his band gave an encore – the audience would not have allowed this to be any other way – and he came out and sang a cover of the Civil Wars ‘Poison and Wine’ with Katie. This was really beautiful. another or Ramin’s self-penned songs ‘When Does it Go Away’ followed to an excellent reception and he ended, as is becoming traditional, with Green Day’s ‘Good Riddance’.

What a show this was. I thoroughly enjoyed myself and I just know that everybody went away smiling and singing and perfectly happy. I simply cannot wait for the Sheytoons reunion which is looking hugely promising.

‘Looking Up’ by Simon Bailey can be pre ordered at All preorders will be signed and the purchaser of CD no 500 will even get Simon’s own, signed guitar!
Follow him on Twitter – SimonBailey1210 and on Facebook:

All video links and photographs are my own.

I hope you enjoyed reading this (almost) as much as I enjoyed being there. For thse of you who were there, it was lovely to see you and I hope this blog has done the gig justice.

Next gig to blog (I think) will be the Christmas with…Friends cabaret, organised by Sim G Productions on Dec 16th. Annalene Beechey, Rebecca Lock, Simon Thomas and Simon Bailey will be performing. I will, however write something between then and now.

Keep dreaming,
Naomi x

What A Weekend

Right then peeps, time to tell you all about the fabulous day I had on Sunday. I had been looking forward to it for quite some time but wasn’t entirely sure what the day was going to be like. After waking up at 6.30 to get the rather early bus into London, I arrived to find a text message from Fra asking if it was possible to move my singing lesson to half an hour earlier – luckily this was okay as I would have been most disappointed to have to postpone. My nerves really started to kick in when I arrived at Victoria  but they were mixed with excitement. After a brew and a little bit of shopping I found the correct train and started en route to my singing lesson.

A few texts were sent between Fra and myself during the journey, but instructions were clear and I made it to my destination and waited for Fra to collect me. We headed off and discussed various things – we talked non stop from the station to his house! Despite the fact that he was lovely and we chatted loads, I was still very nervous. I dont often sing in front of people so it is quite a big deal for me. Anyway, we got to Fra’s and discussed a little about what I wanted from the lessons and my singing history and then we began a number of exercises. To say I felt self conscious would be an understatement, but after a while it got easier and I really enjoyed the lesson. Fra was hugely supportive, explained everything really clearly and was very complimentary. I have lots to work on and I can’t wait for my next session (Sun). I just hope that he feels a bit better as the poor chap had a nasty cold. He moved my lesson because he is currently performing in A Winter’s Tale at the Landor Theatre. It is a new production and I recommend you grab your tickets quickly as it is only on for another couple of weeks and I really feel that new theatre should be supported. It has been getting some excellent reviews – promise me you will at least consider it!

My lesson was followed (after a few hours) by West End Fests. I don’t know how many of you have heard of this, but it is a charity event where all ticket sales (as well as a raffle/bar/CD sales) proceeds went to help support Cystic Fibrosis charities. The evening was held in St Pauls Church, Covent Garden and it was jam packed full of West End performers. All of them gave up their time to come and sing and it really was good fun. After a very near disaster (and by disaster I mean no MD!) a certain Mr Tom Deering stepped up and with no more than ten minutes notice backed all of the first half singers. For this everyone is extrememly grateful and I must say, had it not been pointed out, you would never have known that he was an emergency substitute.

Compere for the evening was Gary Tro and although the catchword of the evening was ‘shambolic’, the humour was made appropriate for a church and everything had rather gone to pot, he was extremely funny and made the whole evening hilarious. Somehow he managed to help everything to run (fairly) smoothly. All this said about the near crisis and apparent lack of organisation (due to unforeseen circumstances, NOT the organisers) I loved the fact that the event was spontaneous, random and ‘shambolic’. No one minded one bit and everyone got well into the spirit of things. With interval mulled wine and mince pies on top it was splendid.

Singers included the founders of West End Fests, Sabrina Aloueche and Parnell Page, both wonderful performers. Sabrina sang a couple of numbers with her powerful voice, including a fantastic version of Dina Carroll’s ‘Don’t Be A Stranger’ and Richard Parnell sang a few numbers including ‘Wicked Game’ by Chris Isaacs. This chap has the most incredible voice. You cannot help but listen and be amazed, at times he sounds more like he is playing an instrument than singing. He blew me away.

There was not one performer who disappointed and the audience was treated to the vocal talents of Hannah LeMade, Benedict, Tom Fraser, Simon Adkins, David Ribi, Tori Allen Martin, Steven Bor, David Hunter, Claudia Kariuki, Steven Webb, Ambra Caserotti, Emma Housley,  Greg Oliver,  Samantha Dorrance, Jodie Jacobs and Tim Driesen. I really hope I haven’t missed anybody and my sincerest and most massive apologies if I have because no one should be left out. But as you can all see, there was some serious talent and the night was jam packed!

I must include a note about David Hunter – he did a very *ahem* ‘moving’ rendition of ‘I Wanna Be Like You’. Yes, that one. From Jungle Book. But what a crowd pleaser it was and the audience revelled in it, clapping along while he played and sang. We were treated to some wonderfully inspiring dance to the lovely vocals of Emma Housley, choreographed by Ryan-Lee Seager. Other notable performances were from Benedict who played the piano and Sang ‘Can’t Make You Love Me’, Simon Adkins who bravely attempted ‘Til I Hear You Sing’ from Love Never Dies and nailed it, Samantha Dorrance and David Ribi who sang ‘More Than Words’ and Let It Be Me from Dreamboats and Petticoats and a totally brilliant end to the evening was provided by Jodie Jacobs and Tim Driesen from Rock Of Ages who performed ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ with a twist. I would dearly love to give a special mention to everyone, but if I was to do that this blog would take me several weeks to write!

That said though, I must mention one more person. For me, the highlight of the evening was Simon Bailey. He sang a lovely duet with Katie Hall (who also sang a song called ‘Pulled’ from the Addams Family) which will be appearing on his album (see my previous blog) as well as one of his own compositions called ‘Goodbye’. This moved me to tears. In fact I don’t think there was a dry eye in the house. It was written for a lost loved one and it was the first time Simon had performed the song – a new arrangement by Tom Deering. This too will be on his album and it truly is one of the most hauntingly beautiful songs I have ever heard. The emotion with which Simon performed it was also plain to see and I feel utterly honoured and privileged to have been witness to something so personal to him.

Below are some links to a few of the aforementioned performances, I hope you enjoy these.

David Hunter – I Wanna Be Like You:

Samantha Dorrance and David Ribi with Matthew Quinn – More Than Word:

– Let It Be Me:

Simon Adkins – Til I Hear You Sing:

Benedict – Can’t Make You Love Me:

The Finale – Jodie Jacobs and Tim Driesen, Don’t Stop Believin’ Medley:

Sabrina Aloueche – Don’t Be A Stranger:

Richard Parnell-Page – Wicked:

And finally (this last video is my own contribution) – Simon Bailey, ‘Goodbye’:

If you see this and I have used your video I hope you don’t mind and thank you so much – I wanted everyone who couldn’t be there to be able to enjoy West End Fests as well as those who were. I believe there will be another one in March (or thereabouts) so please don’t hesitate to buy tickets; snap them up as soon as they go on sale as it really is a great gig. I’ll definitely be going again. Congratulations to Sabrina and Parnell Page for putting on such a great event. Topped off, I might add, by the after show party in Roadhouse (also Covent Garden). I think finishing the night off by sharing chips with Tom Deering and Katie Hall, followed by myself and Katie dancing to Gangnam Style – we were throwing some serious shapes – was something I’m not going to forget in a hurry!!

Next weekend I am off to see Broadway to Bluegrass…Ish with Ramin Karimloo so I will be delighted to blog that afterwards. I hope you have enjoyed reading about this weekend, it’s certainly been a good one for me. It also gave me that chance to catch up with my lovely friend Holly and we had a great laugh so all in all I couldn’t have asked for more from the weekend. Remember, if you like what you have heard then follow West End Fests on facebook and/or Twitter so you get all the gossip for the next one and if you would like to hear more of Simon Bailey then go to to get more details of his appearances and links to purchase tickets. His CD can be preordered at

Once again, thank you for reading, I’ve enjoyed reliving it all for you.

Keep Dreaming,