As Cabaret comes to York, Steve Pratt speaks to leading actress Siobhan Dillon, whose
career has seen her swap a dirndl for suspenders.
‘IF I said I didn’t like it, I’d be lying,” says Siobhan Dillon when mention is made of her
sexily scanty costumes in the stage musical Cabaret.
“The majority of them are very skimpy, but it’s quite a liberating feeling going on stage in
stockings and suspenders,”she says.
Perhaps the name Siobhan Dillon doesn’t ring a bell, but you might remember her if I tell
you she was one of the Marias in the BBC-TV talent show to cast the leading role in a
revival of The Sound Of Music.
She didn’t win but, in common with several other unsuccessful Marias, has had her stage
career boosted by the exposure that a hit Saturday night TV show can bring a performer.
She’s appeared on the West End stage in the musical Grease and toured, to Darlington
Now she’s doing three months on tour in Cabaret, opposite Wayne Sleep as the Emcee.
She readily admits that she’s not the first person most people would think of when casting
the role of Sally, whose raunchy look couldn’t be more different to the nun’s habit of
Maria in The Sound Of Music. Liza Minnelli, I don’t need to remind anyone, played the
part in the film of Cabaret and won an Oscar for her efforts.
“It’s just so unlike any part I’ve done before and really is so complex,”
says Dillon. “Strangely, I’m loving every second of it and hopefully have made the part my own.”
“The songs really made it a challenge for me because they’re not what I would normally
sing. The style of singing is streets away from my solo album, but I love a challenge,”
Can it really be three years since How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria? Well it is, and
a string of stage roles means her debut album has been pushed on to the back burner
several times. “Whenever somebody says, ‘would you like to audition for this?’, the album
gets put on hold for three months,” she says.
Cabaret, which brings her to York Grand Opera House this month, is only on the road a
short time, but Siobhan is not sure she’d want to tour again. “You’re living out of a
suitcase and I’m a bit of a home girl and like being in my own bed. I find it emotionally
not very constructive to be away,” she says.
She quit her fashion school course to take part in the Maria contest when she was 21,
only making the final ten after one of the finalists dropped out at the last minute. It
earned her the nickname Second Chance Maria.
She has no regrets about entering – “not in a million years” – even though she didn’t win,
“It gave me a platform to be able to do what I’m doing now. And I’m glad I’m not
typecast, doing everything from Grease to Cabaret and no one bats an eyelid.
“I loved every second of that programme.
It gave me exposure and the facility to meet different people in the industry. You can’t
buy that, just knowing all those people, casting directors and directors who’ve seen me on
the show. The name is enough to get me into the audition room.”