When YES Magazine’s Carly found out that Claire Sweeney (Brookside, Chicago, Legally Blonde) was coming to North Wales with the glamorous stage production of Crazy For You, she knew she needed Liverpoolʼs sweetheart on the cover.
With a career spanning over 20 years on-screen and on-stage, Claire is one of those rare creatures – a multi-talented performer. Sheʼs as much at home singing and dancing as playing straight roles in hard-hitting dramas, such as Merseybeat and Clocking Oﬀ.
Crazy for You comes to Venue Cymru, Llandudno, between 27 February and 3 March 2018. Set in thirties New York, this rip-roaring musical features some of the Gershwin brothersʼ best-loved tunes, including Iʼve got Rhythm, Canʼt Take That Away From Me and Shall We Dance?
Carly: Crazy for You starts touring in January and youʼre taking over the lead role as Irene, how does that feel?
Claire: I was thrilled. Iʼd heard lovely things about the cast, and it was a perfect show to get involved with.
Carly: Without giving too much away, what can we expect?
Claire: Well, itʼs a George Gershwin musical, so the music is very, very beautiful. Itʼs also diﬀerent to any musical Iʼve been in before. Itʼs what they call an actor-musician musical, meaning all of the cast are also in the orchestra. They sing, dance and play instruments – itʼs quite spectacular!
Carly: You’re starring alongside Tom Chambers (Holby City, Strictly Come Dancing), have you crossed paths before?
Claire: I’ve crossed paths with Tom before but we’ve never worked together, and I have to say, he’s quite amazing and a wonderful dancer.
Carly: You appeared on the first series of Strictly Come Dancing, which seems so long ago now! Dancing On Ice is back this year, would you consider being a part of something like that?
Claire: To be honest it scares me slightly because my livelihood is now musical theatre. If I had a terrible accident or injury, it would really affect my career.
Carly: You have a lot of travelling coming up, performing at so many venues. Do you get much time to relax?
Claire: When I’m in Llandudno, I’ll be going back to Liverpool, so that’ll be nice. I try to get back to my bases as much as I can.
Carly: With the tour running until May, will performing and being a mum be a challenge?
Claire: It’s difficult. I’ve always taken Jaxon with me on tour and now he’s at nursery, there’s a little bit more of a commitment so it’s hard to know what to do really.
Carly: You’re very successful in what is a very tough industry. What’s the secret?
Claire: I think it’s having many strings to my bow. At one time I was doing a lot of TV presenting and if I’d just been relying on it work might have dried up, because people come in and out of fashion.
Thankfully, I could turn my hand to musical theatre and I’ve just got better and stronger at it, so it’s given my career longevity.
Carly: Who encouraged you to believe you could achieve your dreams?
Claire: My family have always been very supportive but you’ve got to believe in yourself. If you don’t, you’d never step outside your front door! You’ve got to get up there and do your best.
Carly: With your experience, what advice do you have for someone who wants to make it in musical theatre?
Claire: Work hard and don’t expect it all to land on your doorstep. There will be times when you’re not working but you need to work hard and stay at the top of your game. Keep your talent fresh and keep the love for it. A love of what I do is what keeps me going!
Carly: In your opinion, who’s your biggest critic?
Claire: Myself, I’m the hardest on myself. I’ll come off sometimes and I’ll say, “Gosh, that wasn’t very good!” but my mum will say it’s great!
Carly: Do you get nervous going on stage?
Claire: Sometimes, you get nervous when you least expect it. I did a pantomime and the script was so difficult to learn because it was all rhyming couplets. On our opening night, I was terrified!
I’ve done West End shows, the Royal Albert Hall, TV… everything! And it was a pantomime that terrified me! The audience were lovely though.
Carly: What have been your career highlights to date?
Claire: Doing Guys & Dolls with Patrick Swayze and dueting with Jose Carreras at the Royal Albert Hall were quite spectacular.
Carly: What can we expect next from Clare Sweeney?
Claire: I’ve gone into the new series of Benidorm, so you’ll be seeing me in that. It’s fantastic, I’m such a fan of the show! After that I’ve got lots of cruises, concerts, and gigs lined up, so next year is all planned out.
Claire stars in Crazy For You at Venue Cymru 27th February to 3rd March. Call the box office on 01492 872000: