SINGER / actress Mary Byrne is in the lead role of a very funny comedy coming to UCH this week. ‘Dirty Dusting’ continues to get rave reviews since its Irish debut last November.
For the singer who had huge success on TV talent show ‘The X-Factor UK’, the move to acting is another ambition fulfilled, Mary has performed on the West End touring production of ‘Grease – The Musical’, starred in ‘Menopause – The Musical’ on a 16 week sell-out tour and featured in panto at the Tivoli Theatre.
“I’m scared every time I walk onto that stage and have to remember the dialogue,” Mary admitted to Limerick Post.
“And to succeed, not all the time but most of the time, is a wonderful feeling and it makes you feel alive.”
“It is all about challenging yourself. It is about looking for new things to do in life.”
This Richard Mansworth production of ‘Dirty Dusting’ is an Irish version of the comedy that has run in the UK for many years.
The play is about three elderly ladies who clean an office. They are told they are going to be let go, so they end up setting up a sex line – and the story goes on from there.
“Everywhere we went, people were standing, clapping, crying with laughter. All they said to us when we came out afterwards was, ‘We really, really needed that!’”
Through all the humour and laugh out loud situations, ‘Dirty Dusting’ also has a story that many can relate to, being a celebration of perseverance and not giving up on life and laughter as you get older.
“When you get to a certain age, people think you shouldn’t do anything. Sit back now in your chair, watch your telly and drink your cocoa. But these women are proving that things can be different. They are all over 65, they can still go out and do a job and have a laugh.
“And that is what it’s all about – a lot of women that come to the show relate to that. “They are still out there doing voluntary work and find it very funny that, while they mightn’t start up a sex line, that they would get their revenge on anyone who is treating them badly.”
It is now ten years since the 50 year-old Mary Byrne made her appearance on ITV’s ‘The X-Factor UK’, moving from her long term job at the Tesco checkout to international fame on UK and Ireland’s biggest talent show. It was the show that introduced Mary Byrne, Rebecca Ferguson and One Direction, and the eventual winner Matt Cardle, to the pop world.
“More people watched ‘The X-Factor’ in 2010 than ever watched it. We were a misfit of ordinary people who were genuinely looking for a break. The people got behind us.”
This year the future of the programme is in doubt and may be shelved by its creator Simon Cowell but Mary remains a committed fan.
“I loved ‘The X-Factor’ for seven years before I went on it and it may be taking a break.
“I think ‘The X-Factor’ was flooding the market with one hit wonders and that was kind of getting a bit boring. ‘The X-Factor’ was based on musical talent and that didn’t work out all the time.
“I think it needs to take a little break and refresh itself and come back in a few years time and give another generation a chance.”
After ‘X-Factor’, Mary signed a deal with Sony Records achieving multi platinum status.
She has since released four albums, the latest being ‘Mary Byrne sings the ’60s’.
Mary made the decision to remain based in Ireland after her TV success in the UK. Now ten years on and looking back, any regrets?
“If I had stayed in the UK, I would have been fairly well off. There is a lot more places to go and sing in, and demand for me over there was unbelievable.
“My daughter was here, all my family and friends were here and yes, my heart was in Ireland.”
“The Irish a different breed … we embrace life and we embrace each other to the best we can.”
‘Dirty Dusting’ plays at University Concert Hall this Thursday February 20.