On Thursday evening Niall Sheehy was the fourth contestant to be voted off from the Superstar live shows. He has very kindly agreed to answer some questions about himself and the show.
You were working with Spamalot when the opportunity to enter Superstar came along. Any regrets that you chose to go for Superstar?
I certainly didn’t “turn my back” on Spamalot – I was sent with their blessing. We had a week off for a holiday, and it coincided with the first round auditions for “Superstar“. Seeing as I never expected to get through, I applied. I was seen on the Monday of the break, and on getting though, they told me the callbacks were on Sunday, meaning I was still free to go. When I was told I was through to Boot Camp, I realised that I was going to have to speak to Spamalot and ATG to find out if I would be allowed to continue. I left the decision firmly in their hands and would have accepted it if they said I couldn’t go. I was a member of the ensemble, and as it turned out, a member of the previous year’s cast was free and willing to return to the show. The producers let me know that if I wanted to go on in “Superstar“, they were delighted for me and would be happy to release me, but I would have to leave the show outright and be replaced, which was completely understandable, as the show’s integrity was the most important thing. I obviously thought this was a bit of a gamble, but I knew it was an incredible opportunity. I would like to thank ATG & the cast and crew of Spamalot for being so supportive.
Now that you are not in contention in ITV’s Superstar can you tell us about your experiences in the auditions and the live shows?
The entire experience is one I will never forget. I had a great time, and feel as though I have made some friends for life, both in the contestants and from the crew at ITV. Everyone was so pleasant and friendly, and it made the hard work seem like fun, to be honest. As far as the live shows went, they were an incredible experience – I was just a bit frustrated that I fell ill and couldn’t seem to fight it off. I didn’t want to use it as an excuse, as you’d see in other shows, so I kept trying to plough through, but in the end, I think it had affected my performances too much. I think the judges’ comments were all fair, based on what they could see and hear, but I was just so angry at myself for not being able to show them that I could do better. Having said that, I don’t regret a minute of the process. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I’m just grateful that I was a part of it.
What was it like living in the Jesus House?
It was great! I mean, we had a cinema, a steam room, a mini gym and healthy food. It’s obviously never easy to just move in with a large group of strangers, but we all got on well, and it never felt competitive when we were at the house – it just felt like we were at home. People would be doing their own thing, and we were never really in each other’s way. I was lucky enough to share with Rory, and we just hit it off from day one. He was a brilliant room-mate – even if I did have to clean up after him quite a bit; that boy has a lazy streak!! – It’s a great feeling to know that we’re going to be friends for a long time to come!!
How do you prepare for being in the bottom two and how do you manage to sing in such a difficult moment – and competing with a friend?
You can’t really prepare for it. We rehearse the song during the day, singing either half of the split just to make sure we know it, but it’s just one of those moments you hope you don’t end up taking part in. I personally was having a tough time on my final show, physically, but once I knew I was in the sing-off with Rory, I sort of made my peace with it. Based on how positive his feedback was as opposed to mine, I felt it was my time to go and just wanted to FINALLY put on one good performance. Also, knowing that if I went, it would mean Rory would continue in the competition made it easier to accept. Ironically, it was the song I felt I sang the best on the show…. which kind of made me wish I’d been in the bottom two every night…. sort of!! 😉
Andrew Lloyd Webber commented to you “’I know there are roles for you in the West End. You would be a great Marius in Les Miserables, and you would be a wonderful Raoul in Phantom Of The Opera.” Did that take some of the pain away from being eliminated?
What Andrew said to me was mind-blowing. I realised at the time that this was by no means a job offer, but it was still a lovely endorsement, and one he didn’t have to make, so I was really humbled by his words. Theatre is never that simple, but now I just want to concentrate on getting back out and auditioning again. It would be an honour to get to audition for one of those parts at some point, so we’ll wait and see what happens. I’m friends with Craig, who currently plays Marius, and Killian, who plays Raoul, is my best friend and housemate, so there was a pretty awkward, but funny text message from him!! As far as the elimination went, I wasn’t really upset about leaving; I was emotional because I felt I had, at no point, given my best and I was just frustrated that I was incapable of coming back each night with a stronger performance, but once Andrew gave me such humbling comments, I think that pushed me over the edge, and the blubbering was well and truly on…!
You have appeared in Wicked in various roles – is there another musical in the West End that you would love to be in or any role that you would really like to play?
I have read a few different things about my CV during the show. I would say for the record that I NEVER played Boq in Wicked. I was a Swing for 2 years, and I covered Dr. Dillamund and Fiyero. I managed to go on for a couple of shows for each of my covers, but that is the extent of my leading roles. To be honest, there aren’t really any parts I wouldn’t want to play. I’ve obviously been auditioning for years, and have as yet never managed to be cast as a lead, so I just want to keep trying and hope that it happens at some point!!
Are there any offers of roles resulting from you being on Superstar?
Well, I haven’t been offered Marius or Raoul, if that’s what you asking…!! If anything, there’s suddenly more pressure on me to play those parts at some point – otherwise it looks like I was promised them and STILL wasn’t good enough. 😉 But no, as of yet, no one has called me to offer me work. I don’t expect that to happen, really. The best I can hope for is that people liked me on “Superstar” and if I get the opportunity to audition for something, they like what I do. I’m not expecting very much to change!
Away from the stage what do you like to do to chill out?
I’m a fairly simple person, really. I play football with my friends, I go to the pub, or the cinema, or I just chill out at home. I wouldn’t change anything about my life – even if I had won and things had got crazy, I’d hate to try and be some “trendy person”. I’m a bit of a dork, so it’s probably best I don’t get ahead of myself.
Any message for the guys left in the show?
I left a note in the house for the remaining guys, wishing them all luck. I just want them to enjoy it, and appreciate being there. I miss the fun and banter, and look forward to keeping in touch over time.
Any message for your supporters?
It sounds so cliché, but I wouldn’t know where to start. It’s that whole fear of hoping that people like you, and I was blown away by the support. I would just say a massive, massive thank you to everyone who supported me, whether they voted or not – I was just so honoured that people seemed to like what I was trying to do. I just hope I didn’t let anyone down – I gave it my best shot and couldn’t begin to thank everyone for their support.
Many Thanks Niall and very best wishes for the future! (you can follow Niall on Twitter at @niallsheehy )
By Neil Cheesman who you can follow on Twitter @LondonTheatre1
Sunday 22nd July 2012