SIOBHAN Dillon nearly knew how to solve a problem like Maria, won a record deal, a role in Grease, and another record deal in America...
Now the 24-year-old is touring as the female romantic lead in a brand new musical love story featuring 30 of the songs of Barry Manilow.
Next stop Darlington, she plays Mandy opposite Chesney Hawkes of The One And Only fame at the Civic Theatre for the week from Monday in CAN’T SMILE WITHOUT YOU, a show fully endorsed by Mr Manilow himself.
Siobhan was 21 and a fashion design student at London University when her life was changed by How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria?
The winner of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s first TV show search for a West End star would land the lead, played on film by Julie Andrews, in the new production of The Sound Of Music.
Siobhan came third but was told on live TV by Andrew that she had a record deal to make an album with his company. Her showbiz career took off and she never returned to university.
Siobhan, from Lichfield in Staffordshire, has been singing for most of her young life.
“I used to do Barry Manilow’s I Write The Songs. I used to sing it all the time when I was eight or nine.
“I had two years of singing lessons at ten and made a demo record at 14, then I did Michael Parkinson’s charity ball at Bray in Berkshire for three years in a row from 15-17.”
The chat show maestro’s son Nick had heard her sing and first asked her to appear.
“I used to drive people mad singing so, after A levels, decided I wanted a change. I thought fashion was calling me but I was getting withdrawal symptoms from not being able to sing.”
That is when she heard of the hunt for Maria. She got to the semi-final but she became ill, her voice was affected, and she was eliminated ... but the show had not heard the last of her.
One of the last three dropped out, and she found herself in the final which Connie Fisher won. The pair are now best friends.
After making her album, she was cast in another new West End musical revival, Grease. She stayed for a year, playing Patty Simcox, the cheerleader with a crush on Danny, and understudying the female lead role of Sandy.
“I left in June and went straight to America to write and record songs in Nashville for the new album I want to release next year.”
She had won the role of Mandy before she left.
“I came home from America on the Sunday and went straight into rehearsals for this in August. After three weeks, we were off on this massive tour, my first tour.”
The show has turned Siobhan into a Barry Manilow fan.
“Since doing this show I’m converted and love the songs very much. I can’t get them out of my head.”
The tour ends just before Christmas.
“It might go into London’s West End next year,” says Siobhan. “That would be nice and, if they asked me back to do it, I would - but I’m hoping to go into films now. I’d really like to be on screen.”
Can’t Smile Without You:
Civic Theatre, Darlington Monday, Nov 24-Saturday, Nov 29, details 01325 486555.