The very last thing I was thinking of was those Louboutins… they were not even new: Lorraine Keane defends her bawdy stage show and that Late Late Show disaster



02:15 GMT, 15 April 2012

Lorraine Keane is down to a svelte size eight after months of all-action performing

Lorraine Keane is down to a svelte size eight after months of all-action performing

It took ‘half a bottle’ of Rescue Remedy to quell the
anxiety pains in her chest before Lorraine Keane took to the Gaiety Theatre
stage on Wednesday for the Dublin premiere of Girls Night The Musical.

It was
the 39-year-old former TV3 presenter’s 50th time performing the show, which has
been touring the country, but you could understand the nerves.

In front of a
packed audience of reviewers and invited guests, including some TV3
ex-colleagues and what seemed to be half the cast of Fair City, the normally
squeaky clean and polished Lorraine – known for her refined accent and below-the-knee
dresses – hammed it up in the bawdiest show that I’ve ever seen in my life.

Playing Liza – unhappily married, sexually frustrated and
nicknamed ‘Bessie Botox’ by her four gal pals – at one point she grabbed a hair
extension from actress Hilda Fay’s head, stuck it between her legs and danced
in the nightclub where the story unfolds.

‘I’d say you were disgusted, were you’ she cringes, when we
meet the next morning in the Westbury hotel.

I confess to thinking: ‘Oh my God
– did I just see that’

‘That wasn’t in the script, by the way. The director added
that in afterwards,’ she says.

‘I was so embarrassed about doing it that when I
put it in, I didn’t grab it tight enough with my thighs so it was slipping
down. I was supposed to do all these pelvic thrust moves but I couldn’t because
I knew it would be on the floor.’

Liza did pelvic thrusts elsewhere, though, while shaping her
hand like a phone and miming ‘Call me’ to an imaginary bloke.

‘Classy,’ says
Lorraine when I mention the scene.

‘But I love it. It’s fun. You know what’s so great It’s fun
to be someone else.

'I’ve never been on a stage with a live audience there and
been anything but Lorraine Keane. I suppose that’s why I’ve been able to do
this. Hilda Fay said to me last night, “My God, you are made of strong stuff,

Hilda, as loudmouth Carol, suggests that Bessie will be
getting cosmetic surgery on an, ahem, intimate area next. There are jokes about
waxing, tampons and childbirth.

‘It all gets a laugh, though,’ argues Lorraine,
who arrives a little late having been in the Gaiety bar with old TV3 pals
Aisling O’Loughlin, Lisa Cannon and Alan Hughes until after midnight.

Then she
stayed up until 3am at home drinking tea and chatting with her husband,
musician Peter Devlin, on the eve of their 10th wedding anniversary. They have
two daughters, Emilia, eight, and Romy, five.

After months of dancing for two hours every night, Lorraine
is a svelte size eight. She is wearing matching rose gold Cartier earrings,
necklace and ring and carrying a Pauric Sweeney handbag – all gifts from Peter
– and draws my attention to the trendy Mi Moneda pendant hanging from it.

have one in silver, too. They’re all wearing them in LA. Rihanna doesn’t leave
the house without them.’

Lorraine is relieved that the first Dublin show is behind
her – Girls Night continues at the Gaiety until April 21 and may extend its

‘For the first half, I was very nervous because it was back in Dublin with
people that you love, respect and admire in the audience and that’s extra

I liked the music but found the show lewd, rude and crude.

Song and dance: Lorraine as 'Bessie Botox' in Girls Night The Musical

Song and dance: Lorraine as 'Bessie Botox' in Girls Night The Musical

‘Maybe my sense of humour is lewd, rude and crude – but when I read the script
it just made me laugh,’ she exclaims.

‘I completely got it. It celebrates women
and their friendships and their support of each other. I was very endeared to
the characters and the story for that reason.’

She ‘loves women’s company’, has five sisters, worked with
women in AA Roadwatch and on Xpos – and now in Girls Night.

‘It’s not the
Abbey and it’s not Shakespeare and it doesn’t try to be Shakespeare,’ she

‘It’s a funny little story with great music. It will give you a
laugh. You can let your hair down and have fun with your girlfriends.’

Like Menopause The Musical and Mum’s The Word, Girls Night
is in a genre of musical theatre aimed at middle-aged women and equally loved
and loathed.

It was written by English playwright Louise Roche, who also penned
Big Pants And Botox, Checkout Girls and Girls Behind. Girls Night ran in the
West End and off-Broadway before the Irish incarnation.

Lorraine and her co-stars – former Fair City actresses Hilda
and Sorcha Furlong and West End singers Jacinta Whyte and Sharon Sexton – began
their tour in Naas shortly after their flop Late Late Show performance in

The Kildare crowd was so forgiving of early hiccups like fluffed dance
moves and missed cues they invited them back in March for extra dates.

In Dublin on Wednesday, the audience laughed, clapped and
sang along to disco anthems such as Dancing Queen and Young Hearts Run Free,
and gave a standing ovation at the end.

But critics accuse musicals like Girls
Night of patronising women by using humour that is slapstick and ribald rather
than clever and subtle.

‘We’re giving people two hours of switching off from their
issues or worries. It’s slapstick and tongue-in-cheek,’ counters Lorraine.

‘Menopause The Musical sold out all over the country for almost a year. Women
are coming in their busloads. We had to delay the start of the show on a couple
of occasions to wait for the coaches.’

But amid the slapstick – toilet paper stuck on a stiletto
heel, a drunken attempt to climb stairs – the sad issue of abortion is tackled
in a couple of short and, at least I thought, jarring exchanges. Carol had an
abortion when she was young. In the nightclub toilets, Liza tells her she is
considering a termination.

‘The character of Liza would never have a
termination, she’s just looking for attention,’ insists Lorraine.

‘There’s not
a chance she would ever do that. She’s got three children, she actually does
love her husband.’

But is it appropriate to have such an emotive topic tackled
for a few minutes in the middle of a musical comedy

‘That’s life.
Unfortunately it is,’ shrugs Lorraine. ‘We were talking about it, myself and
some girls, friends of friends, last night. They were all saying they know
girls who have been that soldier. And they were all crying during it because it
brought them back.

‘I think Louise Roche is an amazing writer. She does touch
on issues that are very now and very real. But at least she brings it back to
the fun and the laugh at the end of it. You know, life goes on.’

When Liza’s friends express amazement that she could be
pregnant, because she is always complaining of not having a sex life, she
quips: ‘I tripped and fell on it.’ This causes a woman a few rows back from me
to almost choke with laughter.

The most enjoyable part of the show, I thought, were the
energetic pop songs and routines – Lorraine’s rendition of Gloria Gaynor’s I
Will Survive was tuneful and confident – which might surprise anyone who saw
the Late Late Show appearance.

‘Oh, seriously,’ grimaces Lorraine. ‘Five minutes, four
songs, 52 dance moves – and I get to sing the first bit solo Performing on the
Late Late Show was never one of those boxes I needed to tick. We only had five
hours of rehearsal.’

She had never sung or acted before getting through two
rounds of auditions last autumn, was obviously nervous and kept forgetting the
routines – live on national television.

‘Those girls have done it since they
were teeny weeny and this was my first time.

'You know what I wish I could do
it all again because I know I could do it better but I also know I could have
done it a lot worse. It wasn’t 100 per cent but it wasn’t a Boyzone moment either – and
they didn’t do too badly out of it, did they’

There was also a furore over Lorraine’s Christian Louboutin
shoes, when she kept exercising her hamstrings and showing off the tell-tale
red soles during Ryan Tubridy’s interview.

‘Oh, stop – that was just so ridiculous. The last thing I
was thinking about were the soles of my feet.

'It’s obviously something I do
when I’m nervous. I also crossed my legs four times during the interview
because I was nervous. They weren’t brand-new shoes, either. I got them four
years ago and I’ve got a serious amount of wear out of them.’

Lorraine has always been defiant and determined. She left a
course in public administration aged 18 to work for AA Roadwatch. A job as
entertainment reporter on TV3 followed and she became the first anchor of Xpos
in 2007.

When she quit three years ago, she wrote a book, Working The
Red Carpet, memorably complaining that Dannii Minogue was aloof, Daniel
O’Donnell was rude and Pierce Brosnan talked like a leprechaun. She is
indignant at reports that it only sold 1,314 copies.

‘It sold at least 5,000,’
she scoffs.

But with the children both in school now, she is anxious to
get back to work. She chose to audition for Girls Night because she ‘loves a

And a challenge it is – performing on stage next to seasoned pros,
taking top billing to boot, without any experience whatsoever – specially when
she had an operation on her back to remove a disc in December, just six weeks
before rehearsals.

‘I’m made of strong stuff,’ says Lorraine. ‘People say I’m
tougher than I look.’

But did she not feel a fraud pitching up next to the others
for the first time

‘Being totally honest, when I was going into that first day
of rehearsals I was a little bit concerned. But I knew that I wouldn’t have got
the part if I wasn’t good enough.

'The producer, Robert C Kelly, wouldn’t
jeopardise this show unless everybody could pull their weight, and the audition
process was very tough.’

Strong stuff indeed!