Move to Dublin ‘mean streets’ for TV favourite

Former Coronation Street star Kevin Kennedy stars as Da in The Commitments

Former Coronation Street star Kevin Kennedy stars as Da in The Commitments

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Whatever happened to Coronation Street’s Curly Watts?

It’s 13 years since actor Kevin Kennedy left the TV soap, apart from a couple of brief guest appearances, after a two-decade stint.

The actor who won the hearts of the nation has had his own dramas. After a very public battle with alcoholism – he has not a had a drink for 18 years – he starred in stage productions of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Chicago and as ageing hippie Pop in We Will Rock You.

Now the 55-year-old is touring as the old man of the show in The Commitments, a brilliant stage version of the 1991 hit film musical that plays at Sheffield Lyceum next week, from Monday to Saturday.

He revealed he would love a Rovers Return to Britain’s most famous street: “I would love to go back – it would be like going home. I know all the characters and all the people behind the camera. If the opportunity came up for me to return to Coronation Street it would be great. It would be a joy.”

For now he is loving his role in The Commitments, Roddy Doyle’s classic story about a group of working-class Dublin teenagers who form a band to escape their dead-end lives.

He plays the foul-mouthed Da to young impresario Jimmy Rabbitte, who shapes an unlikely bunch of amateur musicians into the finest soul band Dublin has ever produced, only for it to implode on the verge of success as clashing egos, jealousy and violence erupt.

Backing singers are all getting off with the middle-aged, horn-playing legend, the singer has entered Eurovision, the drummer has walked out mid-gig and the saxophone player has dangerous leanings towards a jazz career.

Manchester-born Kevin can relate. He started out in a band called Paris Valentinos with Johnny Marr and Andy Rourke, who went on to form The Smiths.

He said of his role: “Playing Da is not particularly taxing, he sits there and listens and comes out with one-liners that bring the house down. It’s an actor’s dream. Roddy Doyle said it’s not the biggest of roles but it’s the best of lines.

“I’m not sure what happens next. I wouldn’t mind working back in the West End, a go at Les Mis, Wicked, or something classical to add to my CV.”

The show comes direct from London’s West End, via its first-ever shows in Dublin.

Doyle’s gritty storytelling is emotionally charged, stripped raw. Its message of hope, which ends in despair, is as relevant today as it was 30 years ago.

For two hours you forget Brexit and Trump. This is Mrs Brown’s Boys meets the Blues Brothers. Fun for your soul.