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What's on: I Dreamed A Dream, Manchester, June 19 to 23
A MUSICAL based on the life of a TV talent show winner sounds an unlikely hit, but I Dreamed A Dream, which comes to Manchester’s Palace Theatre next Monday has been wowing audiences around the country.
For Elaine C Smith, who plays Britain’s Got Talent winner Susan Boyle in the show, the decision to take on the part was not an easy one.
“When I was first approached I thought it was too early and perhaps too obvious,” said the actress probably still best-known for playing Rab C Nesbitt’s long-suffering wife.
“I really wondered if the whole thing would be too hackneyed but then I read the script and I knew it would work.”
The show charts the life of SuBo, as the tabloids have dubbed her, from her harsh upbringing — the youngest of nine children — to becoming an overnight sensation via Britain’s Got Talent.
“Susan’s story is a truly amazing one,” said Elaine, “and shows what you can achieve.
“Here you had this middle-aged Scotswoman who had learning difficulties, her mother had recently died and she was suffering from depression as a result and yet she went on national television and within minutes had become a global phenomenon when she opened her mouth to sing.
“I remember I was in Calendar Girls in the West End when she appeared and sharing digs with Gaynor Faye, who said I had to watch this woman.
“I think my first reaction was like many people’s. Why on earth hadn’t she done something with her hair? But then she sang and I was weeping along with the rest of the country.”
It was actually Susan who suggested that Elaine would be the ideal person to play her.
“There was talk of a movie and she was being interviewed in America about who should take the role, with names like Demi Moore being bandied about, and she said that actually there was a Scottish actress Elaine C Smith who would be very good.
“I’d never even met Susan at the time, so it was very flattering.”
Elaine has subsequently met Susan on numerous occasions.
“Susan’s story is a very moving one,” said Elaine, “and the show gets this across very well. Even her getting to the Britain’s Got Talent audition was amazing in itself. She just decided to have a go, got on the wrong bus then got on another wrong bus and it took her four hours to get to Glasgow before blowing everyone away.”
Elaine admits that audiences south of the border may be surprised to see her taking on such a demanding vocal challenge.
“They’re used to me singing in Scotland but not so much in England,” she said. “I don’t sing until about 20 minutes into the show and you sense the audience tensing up when that first song approaches to see if I can pull it off. I’m not an impressionist, the story is told from Susan’s point of view.”
Susan Boyle actually appears as a special guest at a number of the performances.
“When that happens I think it unnerves some of the people in the audience who have got used to me being Susan, so that tells me that I’ve done my job,” said Elaine.
I Dreamed A Dream, Palace Theatre, Manchester, Monday, June 19 to Saturday, June 23. Details from 0844 871 3019