THEY’VE sold seven million albums, played in concert to more than three million people and their uplifting music has a devoted fan base that spans the globe. Now, Celtic Woman are returning Down Under for their second Australian tour in September. Irish Queenslander talks to vocalist Susan McFadden.
You played your first professional lead role as Annie, aged just 11, won the ITV reality show Grease Is The Word and played Sandy in the West End production of Grease, won a What’s On Stage Award for your role as Elle Woods in Legally Blonde the Musical. It must be difficult to pick a career highlight?
It’s been amazing, I’ve loved each job I’ve done and you learn so much every time you do a new show. Being part of Celtic Woman has been an amazing experience, not only professionally but personally. I’ve travelled and seen so much of the world with this job which makes it really special.
You sing, dance and act. Which do you prefer?
Singing has always been my first love so I’d have to say that. But performing in musicals is great too cause you get to do it all!
You’ve played in some legendary venues, do you have a favourite?
Last year, I played Radio City Music Hall in New York with Celtic Woman, that’s one of my favourite memories, it’s always been a dream to play on Broadway, so in a way I felt like I’d arrived! I cried through the whole show, I was so happy and excited!
For those who have never seen Celtic Woman, what can they expect?
A family-friendly night full of excitement and uplifting music from start to finish. There is Irish dancing, singing and our energetic fiddler Máiréad Nesbitt.
You joined Celtic Woman in January 2012 to replace Lisa Kelly, who was going on maternity leave. Was it intimidating joining an established group?
Yes, because the girls had achieved so much in their time together as a group, their success was phenomenal, so I really wanted to keep that momentum going, but everyone was great and so welcoming that I felt like I’d been there since the beginning.
Since then, you’ve toured in Europe, Australia, South Africa and the US. Do you find time to enjoy these amazing destinations?
Probably not as much as we’d like as we are usually so busy but we always try to utilise any free time we do get to go out and see some sights. Last time we came to Australia, we were only there for a week and had lots of work to do, so didn’t get to spend much time out and about, but in September, we will be there longer, so I’m really looking forward to getting out and seeing Australia properly, not from an airplane window!
What do you do to relax in between shows?
Eat, sleep and watch some catch-up TV online.
Of course, your older brother is Brian McFadden. How was life with a brother in Westlife? Were there groupies hanging around your family home?
I was a bit older when Westlife became so huge and I was away working myself. I missed a lot of the crazy stuff but I know that my Mum and Dad did have the occasional groupie knocking on their door.
Brian splits his time between Europe and Australia, will he be here while you are touring, any plans for a family reunion?
No, unfortunately Brian will be in the UK while I’m in Australia. This is the second time this has happened now, we always seem to just miss each other.
Of course, you starred in RTÉ TV series Bachelors Walk, which was a massive success. Would you like to do a TV role again at some stage?
I’d love to do some TV, acting has been a huge part of my life… but I’ve always felt more comfortable on stage… I don’t know what it is but I would rather stand on stage and sing in front of thousands of people than in a room with just two.
The question all Irish expats want to know – did you ever star with the Billie Barry Stage School on The Late Late Toy Show?
Of course! Every Billie Barry kid worth their salt has!
Celtic Woman play:
Sun 12 Jan – Brisbane Entertainment Centre, Brisbane
Wed 15 Jan – Newcastle Entertainment Centre, Newcastle
Thu 16 Jan – WIN Entertainment Centre, Wollongong
Fri 17 Jan – Sydney Entertainment Centre
Sat 18 Jan – The Royal Theatre, Canberra
Sun 19 Jan – Arts Centre Melbourne, Hamer Hall
Tue 21 Jan – Adelaide Entertainment Centre, Theatre
Fri 24 Jan – Riverside Theatre, PCEC
Tickets from Celtic Woman