VIDEO PREVIEW: The Commitments is fun for your soul with Coronation Street legend Kevin Kennedy
Whatever happened to Coronation Street's Curly Watts?
Well it's an amazing 12-years since actor Kevin Kennedy left the TV soap - albeit for a couple of brief guest appearances - after a two decade stint and Rita's former paperboy, turned binman and supermarket boss left for a new life in Newcastle.
The actor, who won the hearts of the nation has had his own real life dramas. After a very public battle with alcoholism - he has not a had a drink for 18 years - he starred in stage productions of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Chicago and as ageing hippie Pop in We Will Rock You.
Now the 55-year-old is touring as the old man of the show in The Commitments, a brilliant stage version of 1991 hit film musical that plays at Sheffield Lyceum next week,November 21 to 26, with dates to follow in Leeds, York and Bradford.
And in an exclusive chat he revealed he would love a Rovers Return to Britain's most famous street.
He said: "I would love to go back - it would be like going home. I know all the characters and all the people behind the camera. if the opportunity came up for me to return to Coronation Street it would be great. It would be a joy.
For now though he is loving his role in The Commitments, Roddy Doyle's classic story about a group of working class Dublin teenagers who form a band to escape their dead end lives.
He plays the foul-mouthed Da to young impresario Jimmy Rabbitte, who shapes an unlikely bunch of amateur musicians into an amazing live act, the finest soul band Dublin has ever produced,only for it to implode on the verge of success as clashing egos, jealousy and violence erupt.
Backing singers are all getting off with the middle aged horn playing legend, the singer has entered Eurovision, the drummer has walked out mid-gig and the saxophone player has dangerous leanings towards a jazz career.
The show, with its five star cast, comes direct from London's West End - via it's first ever homecoming shows in Dublin itself, where we got a sneak peek of the musical and chatted to the cast
Kevin can relate to the story, as he started out playing in a band called Paris Valentinos with Johnny Marr and Andy Rourke, who went on to form The Smiths.
He said of his role: "Playing Da is not particularly taxing, he sits there and listens and comes out with one-liners that bring the house down. It's an actor's dream. Roddy Doyle said it's not the biggest of roles but it's the best of lines. I go along with that. Being a Roddy Doyle fan I just had to do it.
"I'm not sure what happens next. I'm in this until May. When you get to my age jobs become more geographically important. I wouldn't mind working back in the West End, a go at Les Mis. Maybe Wicked, or something classical to add to my CV. Who knows?"
Kevin may be the show's biggest name but Brian Gilligan is the super new talent everyone will leave talking about.
He plays The Commitments’ obnoxious but amazing lead singer, Deco. Brian's powerful and soulful voice is stunning, not least of all when he belts out Mustang Sally and spine-tingling versions of Otis Redding’s Try a Little Tenderness and Marvin Gaye's Heard It Through The Grapevine.
He originally played the role of drummer Billy ‘The Animal’ Mooney, in the West End production. But during a break he was overheard singing to himself in the stairwell and blew away the director, leading to him being cast as Deco.
Brian said modestly: “I didn't know the resident director was there and she heard me. My initial thoughts were I was considerably embarrassed and thought I had made a total fool of myself.
"But I was asked if I would cover Deco and they offered me the role. It was mind blowing. Literally gone from hero to zero. A very brave and bold, risky decision on their part."
There are top performances too from Andrew Linnie, as Jimmy, plus Christina Tedders and real life sisters Leah and Amy Penston, as backing singers The Commitmentettes.
Doyle's gritty storytelling is always emotionally charged, stripped back and raw. Never more so than here. Its message of hope, which often ends in despair, is as relevant today as it was 30-years ago.
It's full of life, energy and wonderful one-liners. And there's always a great song in here to pick up the pieces.
The production is a visual treat. The superb stage sets capture the dead end council estates, rough pubs and rundown community halls, turned magically into glitzy ballrooms.
But most memorable of all are the live musical performances.
This really is as much a concert as a dramatic showpiece - a production literally full of soul - from the wonderful script to the 20 Tamla Motown, Stax and Atlantic soul classics performed live by the talented cast and backing band, featuring hits Night Train, Try A Little Tenderness, River Deep, Mountain High, In The Midnight Hour, Papa Was A Rolling Stone, Save Me, Mustang Sally, I Heard It Through The Grapevine, Thin Line Between Love and Hate, Reach Out, Uptight, Knock On Wood, I Can't Turn You Loose and more.
For two hours you can forget all about Brexit, Trump and the worries of the world.
This is Mrs Brown's Boys meets the Blues Brothers. Fun for your soul.
* The Commitments is at Sheffield Lyceum, November 21 to 26; Leeds Grand, December 5 to 10; York Grand Opera House, February 13 to 18; Bradford Alhambra Theatre, May 8 to 13, 2017. For more visit thecommitmentsontour.co.uk
The Commitments Tour Dates 2016
3 – 7 October Bromley Churchill Theatre ON SALE NOW12 – 29 October Dublin Bord Gáis Theatre ON SALE NOW1 – 5 November Milton Keynes Theatre ON SALE NOW7 – 12 November Nottingham Theatre Royal ON SALE NOW14 – 19 November Stoke Regent Theatre ON SALE NOW21 – 26 November Sheffield Lyceum Theatre ON SALE NOW28 Nov – 3 December Norwich Theatre Royal ON SALE NOW
5 – 10 December Leeds Grand Theatre ON SALE NOW12 – 30 December Glasgow Theatre Royal ON SALE NOW2017 Dates2 – 7 January Brighton Theatre Royal ON SALE NOW9 – 14 January Oxford New Theatre ON SALE NOW16 – 21 January Liverpool Empire ON SALE NOW23 - 28 January Belfast Opera House ON SALE NOW30 Jan – 4 February Southampton Mayflower ON SALE NOW6 – 11 February Newcastle Theatre Royal ON SALE NOW13 – 18 February York Grand Opera House ON SALE NOW20 – 25 February Bristol Hippodrome ON SALE NOW27 Feb – 5 March Edinburgh Playhouse ON SALE NOW7 – 11 March Aberdeen His Majesty’s Theatre ON SALE NOW13 – 18 March Birmingham Alexandra Theatre ON SALE NOW20 – 25 March Canterbury Marlow Theatre ON SALE NOW27 March – 8 April Manchester Palace Theatre ON SALE NOW10 - 15 April Cardiff Millennium ON SALE NOW17 – 22 April Woking New Victoria Theatre ON SALE NOW24 – 29 April Plymouth Theatre Royal ON SALE NOW1 – 6 May Southend Cliffs Pavilion ON SALE NOW8 – 13 May Bradford Alhambra Theatre ON SALE NOW