POPULAR entertainer Liam O’Brien returns with his annual yuletide celebration of the swing era, Crooning at Christmas, this Saturday in Dolan’s Warehouse in Limerick.
The show, synonymous with the holiday season in Limerick, returns for the seventh year this December and O’Brien, has as ever enlisted a superb supporting cast to aid him, including the Million Dollar Swing Band, Lisa Bresnan and Kathleen Turner.
This year he returns to Dolan’s on Saturday December 22 where the show began life as an intimate affair in their boutique upstairs venue, but after demand ensued now hits the legendary Warehouse stage for the third time.
The former Emmerdale actor and Bottom Dog Theatre Company co-founder is also taking the show on the road for the first time this Christmas with dates in Dublin and Tipperary.
“We are celebrating seven years of the show by going out on the road and I’m so delighted to have dates in Dublin where I’ve done so much theatre over the years,” explained Liam.
It was while playing curate Ethan Blake on ITV’s Emmerdale that he began singing jazz and swing standards - a move which lead to led to a solo Christmas performance on stage at the Royal Albert Hall in front of a capacity crowd.
“It doesn’t get much bigger. You are back stage looking at photos of Frank Sinatra, The Beatles and Tom Jones and thinking I’m about to go out and sing on their stage. My father had sadly passed away the year before and my Mom was in the audience. I just kept thinking how proud he’d be and told the nerves to get lost!”
Liam received ideal training for his Crooning shows after that - which are dedicated to Christmas standards of the Rat Pack era - given that he spent a two-year stint touring the world playing Dean Martin in The Rat Pack – Live From Las Vegas.
The Olivier nominated show has run for over a decade off and on in the West End and Liam played the show at London’s Palladium, all over the US and Europe, and on national tour in the UK.
“That was a dream come true job for me,” he explained. “In that case we were singing with a 20 piece ‘big band’ and I got to travel to Sweden, Denmark, all over the US and UK, places I had never been to really, performing in front of 1500-2000 people a night, which was a great buzz.
“Crooning at Christmas features a lot of the great material those singers made famous for the holidays. Every year we put in new tunes by Connick or Buble as much for ourselves as the audience, which is great - but I would say by year 10 I will know every Christmas song ever written.”
O’Brien and friends will perform the classics - Bing Crosby’s White Christmas, Dean Martin’s Baby It’s Cold Outside and Frank Sinatra’s Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas among many more.
“What I love about it being so close to Christmas is that loads of people are around for the holidays - a great night for people to get together and have some fun, sit back and enjoy the music,” he added.
See Liam in Dolan’s this Saturday and The Source, Thurles, on December 28.