As West End hit Cabaret visits the Midlands on its UK tour, for one Staffordshire-born star it’s something of a home-coming.
Lichfield’s Siobhan Dillon took time out to chat to StaffsLive reporter Sarah Harrison.
Siobhan Dillon’s rise to West End stardom has been a meteoric one.
Aged just 29, this Lichfield girl has taken the theatre world by storm since her big break performing in the TV hit How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?
Since then Siobhan has performed in the leading roles of Sandy in Grease, Vivienne Kensington in Legally Blonde, and most recently Molly Jensen in Ghost the Musical.
It’s all a long way from her days attending The Friary School in Lichfield where she first fell in love with drama.
In her early years, she had voice training with singing teacher Richard Paul, and performed in every show going, as well as being a part of youth theatres and Lichfield Operatic Society.
She always wanted to live in a big city, so says it wasn’t difficult for her to leave when her break came!
“Mum and dad have always encouraged us to explore so I’m holding them responsible!” she told us.
In 2004, she packed her bags and headed for the lights to continue her path into the industry.
But Staffordshire still has a hold of her heart and she returns every now and again when there’s a gap in her tours or during the summer.
“I get recognised on the streets in Lichfield, which is weird – but it’s nice!” she added.
In Cabaret, Siobhan takes on the role of Sally Bowles, who she describes as “a headcase” and “an absolute nutter”.
Sally is young and has so many ambitions and aspirations to be a famous theatre star but she’s stuck in seedy bar, “The Kit Kat Club”, in Berlin in 1931.
“She’s blissfully unaware about the politics and what’s going on in the world,” says Siobhan.
“Sally is immensely vulnerable and very naïve. Difficult, but very fun to play.”
Despite the range of characters she’s taken on, Miss Bowles has been Siobhan’s favourite due to it being such an iconic role and in-depth context she has to portray.
“It’s a lot to think about – I have had to constantly revisit scenes and issues addressed in them.
“It’s such a great part to play because you’re constantly trying to better your performance.”
With only three months to rehearse, and most of that being in her own time, Siobhan has had to portray difficult emotions in her scenes, such as abortion and drug abuse.
The title song depicts these hard times in the second act, but it’s also her favourite to perform because of it.
Helping alongside her has been Will Young, who plays Emcee, but he was unable to perform for a couple of nights last week due to illness.
So in stepped Young’s understudy Simon Jaymes – a singer/songwriter in his spare time, as well as a ballerina and an actor.
Siobhan says it can sometimes change a performance when one of the principal characters goes off and the understudy comes on.
“It normally gives the show a whole new zesty life of its own because people pay a little bit more attention and people wait to see what the understudy will do,” she adds.
“Simon Jaymes is phenomenal. He brings a whole other dynamic to the character but is equally fascinating and engaging.”
Siobhan, like Jaymes, has tried her hand at music after she won a record deal with Andrew Lloyd Webber after the BBC show How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?
But the record was never released.
“The guys at the record label said it wasn’t right, because we had to rush it in three months,” she recalls.
“I’d like to do it again in the future – but finding an hour to yourself is rare.”
After Cabaret, Siobhan is moving to Los Angeles to work with her American agent to get her foot into television acting
To offer advice to anyone else starting a career in the industry, Siobhan says to start as early as possible.
“Every minute that you have and every decision you make, if you respond honestly in that moment then you can’t ever regret anything,” she says.
“And keep smiling (she laughs) because it’s hard.”
Click below to hear Siobhan talk about the song Cabaret
The cast, including Siobhan Dillon and Will Young, will be performing their last shows of the Cabaret tour in Peterborough this week.