The inspiration for creating a new musical comes from many different places, and one tree which has produced bountiful supplies of fruit in that regard is the world of film. It’s a hit-and-miss avenue though, benefiting from the familiarity that attracts audiences while also suffering with having to better what came before.
Not all film-adapted musicals work, but one which has certainly transferred well from the screen to the stage is Once The Musical. After its triumphant première on Broadway, the show travelled across to our shores and moved in at the Phoenix Theatre in April 2013, following a pre-West End run at Dublin’s Gaiety Theatre. It opened to a wave of acclaim from critics and audiences alike, and fifteen months later, Once remains one of the best shows in the West End. It’s a different kind of musical to what most theatre-goers are used to, but it’s simplicity is what makes it so special.
Once is, quite simply, all about the music, and that is what makes it stand out from all the rest and why it has captured the hearts of every music lover whose been to see it. It’s also the reason it is the perfect show for one of it’s newest cast members, singer/songwriter Daniel Healy, who has fallen under the spotlight of In Profile and appears as the featured ensemble member in this week’s edition of the popular article series.
Daniel Healy is a Scottish actor who grew up in Glasgow, nearly as far away from the West End as you can get. His penchant for music steered him towards a career in musical performance and has led him this way, as too has the talent he possesses which was a natural indication that this was a path he should follow.
In 2009, he left Glasgow after being accepted at the Academy of Live and Recorded Arts (ALRA), a UK drama school which has institutions in both the north (Greater Manchester) and south (South West London) of the country. It was founded in 1979, and in those thirty-five years, it has produced some notable alumni in all areas of the performance industry, including such stage names as Andrew Woodall, Hannah Waddingham, and Samuel Anderson. Having completed his training at the London-based venue, Healy has also joined the school’s list of alumni and can already be counted as one of the school’s success stories.
His career so far has been divided between stage actor and singer/songwriter. Discounting his current role, his most prominent performance on the stage to date was in Backbeat, which was also adapted from a popular film. Written by Iain Softley, writer/director of the award-winning 1994 film, Backbeat was a show about The Beatles. Its focus though was on Stuart Sutcliffe, who was the band’s original bassist but left to pursue a career as an artist.
Set during the band’s early years in Hamburg, Backbeat is the story of the fifth Beatle and how his relationships with fellow band member and best friend John Lennon and photographer girlfriend Astrid Kircherr impacted on the group. Healy originated the role of the young Paul McCartney in the musical, which made its world première at Glasgow’s Citizens Theatre in 2010. When it transferred to the Duke of York’s Theatre the following year, he reprised his role in what would be his West End début, and then continued in further international productions, first at the Royal Alexandra Theatre in Toronto and then the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles.
He has also performed in another Beatles-themed show, the 2010 production of Lennon at the Royal Court Theatre in Liverpool. He played the younger John Lennon opposite Andrew Schofield’s older version, telling the story of the late singer/songwriter’s life using both his music and that of the Beatles. The production had favourable reviews in its limited four-week run and marked the seventy years since Lennon’s death.
Healy’s most recent stage credit was in the title role of Peter Pan, which played at the King’s Theatre in Edinburgh for the Christmas season and also starred fellow West End actress Shona White.
As a singer/songwriter, Healy has kept just as busy. He has been performing and writing songs from a very young age and he was named one of the top five songwriters to watch out for by the Daily Record. He once fronted and wrote for the Glasgow pop/jazz trio Eoscene, and after the band broke up, he toured around performing in cover bands and also under his own name. He released his début EP, Fragile, in 2008 and toured the UK promoting it. In 2012, he accompanied Polydor Records’ signed band LAWSON on their UK Tour as their support act. He has also released a follow-up EP, Social Club, which features more of his original songs, and is currently at work on a new album. He describes his music as an ‘eclectic, infused, pop/rock sound which combines vintage with modern.’
He also runs a small internet comedy group called ‘The Bad News Crew’ which last year won the ‘Best Online Content Award’ at the 2013 Lovie Awards, presented by Stephen Fry.
Healy returned to the West End in March 2014 to join the London cast of Once The Musical at the Phoenix Theatre. He is currently playing Eamon and also understudies the lead role of Guy, appearing onstage with his guitar which he has been playing since around the age of eleven. He performed with the cast at the Olivier Awards, and most recently, at Latitude Festival.
Daniel Healy is highly talented in everything he does, as an actor, singer, songwriter and musician. He appears to have found the perfect home in Once and any time he’s performing in the West End is a bonus for its audiences. He has accomplished much in his career so far and still has much more ahead of him.
You can follow Daniel on Twitter: @danhealymusic
By Julie Robinson: @missjulie25
Saturday 26th July 2014