Play Hard

Meet the fabulous Founder of the award-winning Fascinating Aïda that’s returning to Whitley Bay for one night only

We caught up with Olivier Award nominee Dillie Keane to find out why she entered showbusiness, where she finds inspiration and why she has chosen to perform at our local seaside town...

Written by High Life North
Published 30.09.2021

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By Rachael Nichol 

Not one afraid to shy away from the limelight, Olivier Award-nominated actress, singer and comedian Dillie Keane is back to get her latest show on the road with her comedy cabaret trio, Fascinating Aïda.

Bringing us comedy, cabaret and charm straight from the West End onto the stage at Playhouse Whitley Bay, Dillie, Adèle Anderson and Liza Pulman return for one night only as part of their UK tour this Saturday – and this showstopper is not one to be missed!

But what makes the show such a success? Well, Dillie uses what’s happening in the world for inspiration for her lyrics and tries to bring out the humour from those topical issues . If we don’t laugh, we’ll cry, right? And we can guarantee her songs will make you belly-laugh. 

With all the buzz surrounding their brand new show, we wanted to find out everything that goes on behind the scenes of life in Fascinating Aïda. Which is why we caught up with founder Dille, to find out… 

What inspired you to set up Fascinating Aïda?

I wish I could say that I had been inspired to set it up, but I wasn’t. I always liked singing harmony and sang with various female friends, and people seemed to like it. So, really, it began as a fill-in between acting jobs and somehow it took over my life.

Talk us through what work you do as the founder of your group? 

I feel as though I ought to have founded something important, like Maryland or Tate and Lyle Sugar Company. I just write the lyrics with the others and then I set them to music. Then I learn the songs and perform them. Oh, and I turn up for the gigs.

How did you get into this industry?

I was an actress first, and then I went to university before I attended drama school.  

Why did the cabaret scene appeal to you?

I was pretty impatient as a young person (I still am), and I hated the wait between jobs. But, looking back, I realise that I was actually working about 50% of the time when I was a full-time actress, which was pretty good for someone starting out. It still didn’t seem nearly enough for me, though. So, I started doing cabaret to fill in the gaps. 

Where do you find inspiration? 

I look at the world around me and think: what are the big subjects of the day? Right now, some of those subjects are climate catastrophe, food shortages, the drift to the political right, the addiction to social media, wokeness, the ‘pinkification’ of little girls. We cover those kinds of subjects and try to find humour in them. 

Why is the theatre so important to all of us?

Sharing joy and laughter with strangers is wonderful for the soul. Theatre takes us out of ourselves and sheds light on how others live. I missed seeing live theatre dreadfully during the past 18 months – I’m an inveterate theatregoer myself. 

What has the past year been like for you during the pandemic?

I’ve had a fairly tough pandemic. My partner lost two best friends and two brothers between November 2019 and January 2021. This was a big loss for me, too, as I was very close to his brothers, but for him it has been like being in the eye of a whirlwind. I also lost a very dear friend, and we had to have our darling old Labrador put down. Our lovely mare and foal died in bad foaling – the attrition has just been non-stop. But, you know, life goes on – and laughter does return. 

What advice would you give to any of our readers who want to get into showbusiness? 

The world has changed since the pandemic, and it looks like some of those changes are here for a good while yet. So, I think it would be presumptuous of me to offer advice to anyone because the times are just so challenging right now.  

What do you love the most about your job?

I love the people I work with. Fascinating Aïda is a family after all these years. The current family is very strong, very tight. Many of the genius technicians who’ve worked with us over the years have stayed friends and we like working with the same people over and over again. There’s great joy in coming together. 

What’s the most challenging part of your job

Learning the moves! I sat at the piano for years and didn’t have to think about moving my feet or doing things the same as the others. Now, we have a pianist and a choreographer who gives us moves that vaguely resemble dancing. However, over the years, my body has forgotten how to do it, and what with trying to concentrate on the lyrics and singing harmony as well – it’s a nightmare!

Who would you say your role model is in the industry and why?

Randy Newman. He’s a genius. 

Why have you chosen to perform at Playhouse Whitley Bay?

I was really thrilled because I’ve never been there before and everyone tells me how gorgeous it is. So, I’m fulfilling a long-held ambition. I love our seaside towns as I grew up in one. 

What’s next for Fascinating Aïda? 

We’re touring until June, so the aim is just to stay alive until then. If Edinburgh happens next year, then we have to stay alive till the end of August.  


To book your tickets to see Fascinating Aïda, visit the Playhouse Whitley Bay’s website.

For more information about Fascinating Aïda’s UK tour, visit their website.

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