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Danny Bayne on making the transition from screen to stage

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Danny Bayne first came to the attention of the public in 2008 when he appeared in ITV’s search for the new Danny and Sandy in Grease is the Word. He went on to win the competition and to take the starring role of Danny Zuco in the Piccadilly Theatre production for over two years. We catch up with Danny now that he is back in the show, currently on a national tour.

Winning Grease is the Word must have been an amazing feeling for you?
It really was, yes. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I grabbed with both hands. It really kick-started my career as I was straight out of college, and it’s something I am very grateful for. There are people who have bad things to say about these television shows, but it really helped me in a huge way and I am truly thankful for it.

What’s great is that these programmes seem to help more than just the winners.
Oh yes, so many of them have had great success. My friend Siobhan Dillon from the Maria show is now in Ghost playing the lead. Michael Quinn[ who was in Grease is the Word with me, is now on a cruise ship playing Link Larkin all around America. A lot of people have done terribly well.

At what point did it occur to you that you could actually win?
To be honest, it never really did occur to me. We got to the final; there was me and the guy who had been a pop star [Anthony Kavanagh

, and that was when it finally dawned on us that one of us was going to win. I guess I didn’t think about it before because you’re on this crazy thrill-ride and then all of a sudden it comes to the end. It was the most wonderful feeling when I did win, but I never really expected it.

What preparations did you make for that massive West End opening?
To be honest with you it was a big shock to the system. Because you go through all that, and you do forget about it. Mainly because you’re living this very strange life for a while. It does kind of escape you that, if you win, you’ll have to do eight shows a week, every week, for at least a year.

When I got the part, truthfully, I don’t think I was prepared. But, through all the rehearsal time in town, I did get used to it and it was wonderful and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

How did you cope with that routine when you were only 19 and wanting to party?
Well, as I’m being honest, what did happen was that I did go out a couple of times and my voice really suffered. I realised that this can’t happen so I stopped going out and I stopped drinking. Instead I focussed on being professional and doing my job properly and to the very best of my capability.

Although I am not in the best shape compared to some people, I also spent time in the gym trying to keep fit. I work out a few times a week, run three or four times a week and I eat very well and very healthily. Also, I’m getting married in a month – so I have to be in shape for my wedding as well.

How did you deal with all that pressure at such a young age?
I was very young, I had just turned 19 when I won, but I had studied musical theatre at Italia Conti for five years, and before that at a Saturday school for a few years, so I was fully prepared in one way – I just didn’t go through the ordinary channels to get there.

It was a wonderful experience and, although it was very high pressure, I think I dealt with it quite well for someone so young. But I guess there’s always pressure because, when I left Grease, I joined Hairspray on itse national tour as Corny Collins – and now I am back in Grease so the pressure is still there, but I’m having a good career too.

Which show is more fun to do, Grease or Hairspray?
Oh, well, they are very different jobs. Grease, in terms of difficulty is a lot harder. I have to sing very high several times, I have to dance a lot and I really need to be at the top of my game.

Hairspray was the same, a lot of hard work, but, as Corny Collins, I was only on stage for 45 minutes out of the whole show. So it was much more like small explosions of energy but they are both terrific shows in their own right and I’ve enjoyed both thoroughly.

What’s happening for you after the tour of Grease?
I finish the show in May, and I believe the show is taking a six-week hiatus and then it restarts and runs through to December. Contractually I am not certain if I am doing it yet, so current plans are for me to go over to Niagara Falls in July and August.

I’m set to choreograph a brand new show at the Fallsview Hotel, a big hotel and casino complex that overlooks the Falls, so I’m going into choreography as well as performing, which is something I have always wanted to do. I’m really looking forward to that but, as of yet, after August I am not certain what’s next.

Danny Bayne will be appearing as Danny Zuco in Grease at the Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury 6-17 March, the Assembly Hall Theatre, Tunbridge Wells 19- 24 March and The Hawth, Crawley 26-31 March and until May 19 on tour throughout the UK.


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