WEST END STORY: Siobhan Dillon (How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria?)
Fashion student Siobhan Dillon caught the attention of the judges in the initial stages of the auditions with her rendition of 'I Could Have Danced All Night' from My Fair Lady, earning herself a place at Maria School. Unfortunately for 21 year-old Siobhan, her Maria dream was then dashed when illness affected her voice, leading to her being eliminated from the competition and losing out on a place in the final 10. Her luck soon changed, however, as finalist Emilie Alford decided that the show was not for her, and quit. Siobhan, being the last girl to have left Maria School, was called back to replace her, and as such was dubbed Second Chance Maria.
Donning a red Maria outfit, Siobhan cruised through the first few weeks of the competition, with songs including Shania Twain's 'Man! I Feel Like a Woman' and Tina Arena's 'Chains', even winning the fitness course challenge prior to the third show. In the fourth week of the competition, her rendition of 'Songbird' proved to be a hit with the panel and public alike, earning her yet more praise from long-standing admirer David Ian. Her performance of 'All That Jazz' from Chicago in week five saw her get through to the second live show of the evening, only to then find herself in the bottom two for the first time in the competition. Irish Maria Aoife Mulholland joined her in the sing-off, which saw both girls singing their hearts out to the tune of 'Don't Cry For Me Argentina' from Evita. Andrew Lloyd Webber chose to save Siobhan, as he felt that she had the "strongest voice which could carry eight shows a week". So Siobhan bid so long, farewell to Aoife, and joined Connie Fisher and Helena Blackman in the final.
In the run-up to the final, all three finalists accompanied Andrew Lloyd Webber on a trip to Salzburg, Austria, where they were able to visit some of the locations made famous by The Sound Of Music, including Nonnberg Abbey.
Sadly for Siobhan, the first half of the final week was to be the end of the road, and she was eliminated following the first public vote of the night, landing her in third place. When asked what her lasting memory of How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria? will be, she replies: "The overall scale and grandeur of the experience. The masses that auditioned, right through to the millions that watched us. That feeling of sink or swim will always override every lasting feeling. The sense of unity between us will stay with me forever…although some girls tried to isolate themselves, it was never for too long!"
She may have lost out on the chance to play Maria, but she immediately landed a record deal with Universal, Polydor. In July 2007, Siobhan made her West End debut as Patty Simcox in Grease at the Piccadilly Theatre, also understudying for the characters of Sandy and Marty. She left the show in June 2008, and went straight into the touring cast of Bill Kenwright’s Can't Smile Without You, a musical featuring the songs of Barry Manilow, along with I’d Do Anything contestant Francesca Jackson.
Towards the end of 2009, Siobhan took over the role of Sally Bowles in the UK tour of Cabaret from former I’d Do Anything contestant Samantha Barks, before returning to Grease in the West End in January 2010 as Sandy. She is grateful for the intense tuition she received on How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria?: "I learnt a huge amount in a very short space of time, and a lot of information was thrown at us from all angles! For every song there would be intensive lessons dissecting each piece: breaking the song down into dialogue by stripping away the music, building different skills and using different singing techniques and starting from basic movement with the dance part. We had such a short preparation time for each number, we had to learn quickly how to control our nerves and be ready for any question thrown at us on live TV with millions of viewers! As well as be able to deal with any mistake or technical hitch that cropped up!"
During her time away from the stage, Siobhan got down to some song-writing and recording in the USA, Australia and the UK for her debut album which is due to be released this year.
Despite her successes, Siobhan hasn't lost sight of the importance of going back to basics and gaining valuable experience, and gives some sound advice to those wishing to follow in her footsteps: "Learn everything you can. In my experience in Musical Theatre, being a competent singer is a very strong tool. That, and having a good understanding of movement and acting, obviously. It sounds straightforward, but you really do need to have these things covered. Being outstanding at all three is almost impossible, but a solid understanding is important. And experience. Even if it's in a local youth Theatre Or operatics society, it all helps!"
Keep up-to-date with Siobhan by following her on Twitter: @siobhandillonuk
From This Author Kathryn Pintus