I thought the only people to be turned into a musical were already dead: Susan Boyle on seeing her own life on stage
22:01 GMT, 10 March 2012
The amazing career of Susan Boyle goes on with I Dreamed A Dream, a musical charting the Scot’s rise to fame, with Rab C. Nesbitt star Elaine C. Smith as Susan, and with Boyle herself. It’s the first time on stage for Susan, 50, since the Britain’s Got Talent tour in 2009. Here she tells of seeing her own life on stage…
Susan Boyle with Elaine C. Smith, who plays her in the musical based on the singer's life. 'It is very strange, to say the least, to see your life acted out by other people,' she said
When I first saw the rehearsals and watched my own life being portrayed on the stage, I thought: ‘What’s the buzz, man Wait a minute, what’s going on here’
It is very strange, to say the least, to see your life acted out by other people, but then my life has been full of surreal episodes since 2009.
The theme of my story and the musical is ‘never judge a book by its cover’, because a lot of things were said to me and about me right back from when I was a small child. I hope people will see there’s a lot more to me than maybe the people who put me down gave me credit for.
When Elaine and her team came to me with the idea, I had a meeting with my family to make sure we wouldn’t upset anyone. I’d always thought only dead people had their lives made into musicals!
In some ways, the characters are fictitious representations of real men and women but it is my story and I hope people will be entertained by it.
'On the whole, it's upbeat, with a lot of humour,' said Susan of 'I Dreamed A Dream'
The idea is Elaine plays me throughout the show and then, all things being well, I come out and sing a couple of songs to round off the night.
When I take to the stage in Newcastle later this month, it will be the first time I’ve performed on stage in the UK since the Britain’s Got Talent tour.
The musical will be very much like a toe in the water for me. It will be nerve-racking performing live.
But it will be good for me. Since BGT I’ve had a bite of the apple and it tastes sweet. I’m still bedding into this fame game but it’s getting a little easier with each new thing I do.
The key areas the musical covers are my childhood and how, from the moment the doctors told me I’d never be any good at anything, I kept hearing that said to me, really until the point Simon Cowell and the panel said yes on that BGT audition in 2009.
We deal with my misery at being bullied at school and the competition I felt there – trying to compete with the other kids but ultimately discovering that I couldn’t.
The musical looks at the brief romance I had with ‘wee John’, the relationship I had in my late 20s. It lasted only seven weeks until my dad brought a stop to it. He was very strict and very protective of me and he didn’t feel I was ready for a relationship at the time. Nevertheless, it hurt when it ended.
The pain of that experience made me even more determined to focus on my singing.
But, on the whole, it’s upbeat, with a lot of humour.
I’ve been lucky enough to do so many amazing things and meet some incredible people. One person I’ve yet to met is the Queen but that might be all about to change because I have been asked to perform at a Diamond Jubilee concert.
'The idea is Elaine plays me throughout the show and then, all things being well, I come out and sing a couple of songs to round off the night,' said Susan
The details have still to be finalised, but it’s an incredible honour to be asked and something I’m really looking forward to in May. I’d love to do a full tour as a thank-you to the fans who have supported me.
One dream I have would be to duet with my childhood sweetheart Donny Osmond. He’s not a bad-looking bit of stuff! I’ve met him but being able to sing with him would be a dream come true.
I feel as though I’m still learning my trade; I still have a lot to learn about singing and the industry. In some ways my career has been back to front. I’ve had the fame and success, now I need to hone my craft.
My voice is everything to me and I need to protect it. I felt for Adele when she had those problems with her voice – suffering a vocal cord haemorrhage and needing surgery.
Adele is an incredible talent who deservedly picked up a load of awards at the Grammys and the Brits but it brings it home how fragile this can all be.
'I feel as though I'm still learning my trade; I have a lot to learn about singing and the industry,' said Susan
Everyone fears losing their voice because it’s their bread and butter. She got through it, but I’m aware it could happen to me at any time.
I know my career can last for only as long as people want me but I hope I’ll be around for a wee while yet.
One thing I am sure of, though, is that my parents would be very proud of the way things have gone.
My mum would have been frightened and concerned but also very happy for me. And my dad, who wanted to be a professional singer himself but never got the chance, would have been over the moon.
Even though they are not with me any more, I still feel them guiding me.
My mum died with worry, wondering whether I could manage.
I’m still in Blackburn, in West Lothian, because it’s where I was born and bred. It’s a quiet village but it’s where people know me. I have the posh house – ‘the one with windaes’, I joke. That’s where I can have visitors and where I can entertain. And I still have my mother’s old house.
I’m on my own these days because I don’t even have Pebbles the cat to keep me company, but she’s being looked after by another lady in London, and I get updates on how she’s doing.
There might not be a big romance still in my life – unless you count being serenaded by a Chippendale male stripper outside my front door! Honestly, though, I’m much too busy for all of that and I wouldn’t want this to sound like a personal ad.
The only thing I want to concentrate on is entertaining the public, which I’ll continue to do for as long as they want me to.
I Dreamed A Dream begins a 12-week national tour at the Newcastle Theatre Royal on Friday, March 23. susanboylemusical.com