Tracks Of My Years: Róisín Sullivan

Here Come The Grrrls
October 25, 2018
Educate Together Patron Of New Secondary School
November 1, 2018

For Róisín Sullivan, right from the very start, it’s always been about the song.

Whether it’s Streisand or Cassidy, Rodgers & Hammerstein or Lennon & McCartney, a great song transcends genre, time and tastes.

A point the former St David’s pupil is keen to prove with her new show, Broadway & Other Stories, highlighting those classics that have lit up New York along with those songs that lit up the entire world.

Before Ms Sullivan hits The Whale on Friday, November 23rd, we asked Gladys Sheehan’s star pupil to shine a light on those songs that can make her break down and cry…

I was raised on songs and show tunes. One of my earliest memories is of me sitting on the carpet as a very small child and listening to Barbara Streisand and Elaine Paige records. Mom always had these playing in the background, as well as the cast recording of The Phantom of the Opera which was my absolute favourite.

I remember looking at the record sleeve so closely, seeing the pictures of Sarah Brightman in the show and wanting to be just like her when I grew up. It was those early influences, coupled with endless MGM and Rodgers & Hammerstein movie musicals on the television that sealed my fate as a performer.

Mom and Dad sent me to the local drama teacher in Greystones, Gladys Sheehan, and it was there every Friday after school that I built up my confidence on stage and got all the encouragement that I needed from Gladys to go further. The school shows in St. David’s Secondary School in Greystones also played a huge part in my early years as a performer when Mrs Chambers cast me as Louise in Carousel, and I also played Sandy in the school production of Grease. I will never forget that gym hall scent that I have come to associate with the magic of showtime in the St David’s school hall!

After leaving school, I started performing in various shows in The Gaiety Theatre and NCH. I toured with Riverdance as a singer for a few years, and then made the move to London to get formal musical theatre training. This led to a series of wonderful jobs for me in London, both in West End and off-West End productions, as well as UK and international tours. It also led to me performing in The London Palladium with Tommy Steele, a man who I had grown up watching on video in Finnian’s Rainbow alongside Fred Astaire all those years ago.

As well as performing on stage in full scale productions, I absolutely adore performing in intimate cabaret club settings, similar to the New York cabaret scene. There is a certain magic created in these settings that is hard to replicate in bigger scale productions. Singing songs that mean something to me personally and sharing them with an intimate audience is an absolute joy, and I am thrilled to be performing in The Whale in my home town of Greystones, back where it all began.

My Inspirations…

Gene Kelly Singing In The Rain

I will never tire of this song and of watching Gene Kelly spinning his magic. Tap is still my favourite dance form to perform and he was the king of it. The orchestrations in this piece are just fantastic and always take me on a journey whenever I hear it.

Michael Jackson Smile

I am a huge Michael Jackson fan. It will be a long time before we see a performer like him again. He had a great many hits of his own hits, but this one song written by Charlie Chaplin is possibly one of my favourite recordings of his. The lyrics are so beautiful and simple but deliver a powerful message that I try to live by, although of course, it is not always easy!

Eva Cassidy Somewhere Over The Rainbow

The original Somewhere Over the Rainbow as sung by Judy Garland was always a firm favourite in the soundtrack of my childhood, but when I discovered this version of it, I was hooked on it straight away. I remember bringing it to my singing teacher at the time and working on it, trying to sound as beautiful as Eva Cassidy does when she sings it. It is so cleverly modified from the original and is one of the best covers of an absolute classic that I have ever come across.

Nancy LaMott We Live On Borrowed Time

Nancy La Mott was a cabaret singer who was very popular on the New York cabaret circuit in the 1990’s. Her career was just on the rise when unfortunately her life was cut short and she passed away. This song was written by a friend of hers, David Friedman, who wrote a lot of cabaret songs that were popular additions to the great American songbook. I sang this particular song in David Friedmans song cycle; Listen To My Heart in Smock Alley Theatre back on 2009, and I still love to sing it. Its message is quite poignant and I think strikes a chord with every generation.

The Beatles In My Life

Not having been there when they were around initially, I discovered the music of The Beatles as a teenager. I am not alone in thinking that they are a band that cannot be rivalled by any other, and that their music catalogue is a collection of pure masterpieces. This particular track is one of my favourite Beatle songs as it makes me think of all those special places and people I have encountered in my own life, and how grateful I am to have come across them.

Roisin Sullivan brings her show Broadway & Other Stories to The Whale on Friday, November 23rd. Info right about here.

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