BWW Interview: Susan McFadden CELTIC WOMAN Got Her Start in Theater
CELTIC WOMAN was an idea imagined in Ireland in 2004 that included classically trained Irish female musicians. As the group has enjoyed success all over the world, audiences come again and again to enjoy "...all things Celtic - from bagpipes and bouzouki to Irish dances. But it's also so much more than that. It's a universal celebration of life. It's traditional. It's contemporary. It's yesterday, today and tomorrow." - Dave Kavanagh (Executive Producer of CELTIC WOMAN).
BWW caught up with one of the current performers, Susan McFadden to discuss with her how she got involved with CELTIC WOMAN and what it means to her. Her roots come from performing at London's West End but it's easy to see why she fits in so well with CELTIC WOMAN today.
I noticed that you started out in theater. How did you get interested in that?
I started from a very young age and I've been on the stage pretty much my whole life. My mom sent me to Billie Barry Stage School when I was four as a hobby, just for something to do as an extra activity as well as school to keep me going and keep me busy as a kid. I just loved it. It was one of many, many different activities that I took up but this was the one that stuck that I loved that I continued. I was always onstage even as a child. I'd be going to theater in the evening times after school to be in plays or musicals or whatever professional productions. I was onstage from a very early age and I continued with that after I finished my school. I did my school. I left school when I was 18 and had plans to go to college and maybe get a degree in something. But, I am continually working in theater. I'll keep doing it for as long as I can and then many years later, I'm still here and I'm still on the stage.
I also noticed you won the ITV contest with "Grease Is the Word" and the role of Sandy.
That's a good eight years ago now maybe more. It was a competition on ITV Television. It was actually the same as the one they did over here in the states where they were looking for their Sandy and Danny on Broadway. I'd been auditioning in London at the time and my agent was like, "I think you should go for this." It just wasn't something I wanted to do. I did not want to put myself through (this) on TV. It's bad enough auditioning in front of two people but that was incredibly daunting and it wasn't anything I was interested in at the time. I was convinced because I really didn't think I would get very far but I won it and then it completely opened the door for me. From London performing West End shows, it just snowballed for me. I worked for a few years there before then joining CELTIC WOMAN.
What are some roles you enjoyed playing when you were on the West End?
After Grease, I went on and toured with a production called "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" which is very different show altogether. It's set in the 1800's and a traditional musical. After that I went into "Legally Blonde, The Musical" which is really different once again, a more modern day comedy show. I think for me personally, "Legally Blonde" would be my favorite part to date. I played two parts. I started off playing the part of Serena which is the sidekick. Then I moved up to play the lead role and I did that for a year. I loved playing the lead role in that. It's probably one of my favorite. Probably one of the most relatable character that I play.
Now you are with CELTIC WOMAN and you've been with them since 2012. Tell us a little more about how you ended up with CELTIC WOMAN and some of your experiences of being on the road.
had just finished "Legally Blonde, The Musical" and I was auditioning for my next job and then the phone rang out of the blue. I didn't know much about CELTIC WOMAN because I didn't live in the UK and they were very heavily routed with it in the states with the show at the time. but I did know a couple of the girls in it. I knew Lisa Kelly and I knew Chloe Agnew at the time. I'd been following them on social media. I knew they were a part of this show and it was very successful and they were doing really well. So when I got the call (I said) Oh, yes. Later I went and met with the producer and the musical director at that time. I sang a few songs for them and the rest is history. So Chloe was having her 4th child and she was taking a step back and she actually recommended me. So, it kinda worked out perfect. planned to only stay for a year and five years later, I'm still here.
What are some of the things audience members can expect from CELTIC WOMAN?
Our new show "Voice of Angels" is basically an onstage version of our album. We're bringing the album to life that we recorded last year. A lot of new material. Songs that we never performed before and a lot of fan favorites that we feel we couldn't possibly do a show without. "Amazing Grace" and "You Raise me Up" and "Danny Boy" are in there. They are fan favorites we love to perform as well. It's brand new arrangements of them. Even though they are well, knows songs, the audience thinks they are hearing it again because they are brand new arrangements. We have the four girls, we have the choir, we have dancers and we have live bands with saxes. Also we have a big stage on the screen where we protect images of Ireland.
Don't miss your chance to see CELTIC WOMAN when it comes to the Majestic Theatre in San Antonio for one show only, Sunday, May 21, 2017. Go to the MAJESTIC's website for tickets and show details in San Antonio. Check out CELTIC WOMAN's website for more details about their tour.
PHOTO CREDIT: Todd Kaplan