DESPITE the name, Lorraine Keane says men should not be put off her new show Girls Night - The Musical. The tiny television star-turned stage performer has taken a leap into the unknown and wants audiences - both male and female - to join her into the breach.
The all-Irish production of the Louise Roche-penned hit show, which has previously run in the UK and US and is directed by EastEnders alumni Andrew Lynford, boasts a professional cast - Hilda Fay, Sorcha Furlong, Jacinta Whyte and Sharon Sexton - meaning Keane was required to be of a certain standard when she threw her hat in the ring for the part of Liza.
Given that she is married to a Devlin (Peter) and is the daughter of the frontman of one of Ireland’s top showbands, The Indians, she has singing in the blood - but that doesn’t mean it was any easier to audition for this show. Being able to sing was a requirement, she explains, seated demurely in the Clarion Hotel penthouse in Limerick.
“The singing part was non-negotiable,” smiles the pint-sized former Xposé presenter, a veteran of TV3 for close to a decade. “I knew I could sing in tune, but I hadn’t actually sung for a long time. I had a few sleepless nights before the audition, because I hadn’t even sung out loud in front of my friends as a grown up.
“It is something I had always wanted to do, but never got the opportunity. I did the audition not thinking for a moment that I would have a chance, but I did it on the basis that it would be a bit of craic to do, I just really wanted to try it.”
Despite fears that she might be present as a ‘name’ to draw punters, Keane stresses that was far from the case.
“The guys that auditioned me, the producer and director are from the West End, so they didn’t know me as Lorraine Keane the TV presenter,” she insists.
“I sang in front of my husband for the first time before the audition, thinking if I could sing in front of him I could sing in front of anyone.”
Needless to say, she got the part and the show has started a national tour that includes several dates later this month in the University Concert Hall. Keane denies any particular opening night nerves, rather pointing to her appearance on the Late Late Show, for which her shoes made more headlines than her vocal talents.
“I think there were more nerves for the Late Late. We had four hours to prepare a five minute medley, with 52 dance moves and harmonies and I had to sing the first solo,” she laughs. “Once I survived that, I can survive anything. You know those things that you have in life, lists of things you would love to try? Performing live on the Late Late Show was not one of those. Never. It could have been better, but it could have been a lot worse.”
To be fair, the high energy production has been getting good reviews and is a fun show, packed with hit songs from the 70s and 80s.
“The music is fantastic, there is dancing and it is very funny,” says Lorraine. “It is based on the friendship between the five women who grew up together and they are celebrating an engagement in a karaoke club, so if you like Gloria Gaynor, Sister Sledge and Abba you will like this musical.”
Keane says she has left the stresses of her former life as a daily television presenter behind her. Despite tabloid headlines, she insists there was a simple reason for leaving TV3.
“My family was the major motivation for me in leaving TV3 - it was everything,” she explains. “I was working six days a week, weekends and late nights, it was a great show and I loved it and I loved my TV3 family, but I was just spending more time with them than my own family, and you don’t have children for other people to rare.
“It was a difficult time it was difficult to leave. My career has been a very big part of my life, I have a very strong work ethic but it got to the stage where something had to give and I didn’t want it to be my family, or my relationship with Peter, because I was a bit of a weapon to live with for a while! Things are much better now. He likes me again. Although I’d say he’ll be glad to see the back of me for a few months,” she smiles.
One of the songs she sings is the classic Gaynor-standard I Will Survive, and it could be sung about her own career.
“Hopefully I do survive this, hopefully my career survives this,” she laughs. “So far so good, it has been amazing so far. I am happy to give it a go, it is really hard work, but all the good things in life are - I am not afraid of risks, I like them.”
Girls Night The Musical runs in the UCH from March 13-15. See UCH for details and tickets.