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Saturday 17 August 2019

Reality TV star Danielle Hope divines her Irish roots

BBC reality TV star and singer Danielle Hope talks about meeting her Irish family for the very first time while performing in Joseph

Huge Change: Danielle Hope went from working part-time as a waitress while doing her A Levels to being the winner of the BBC show Over The Rainbow. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Huge Change: Danielle Hope went from working part-time as a waitress while doing her A Levels to being the winner of the BBC show Over The Rainbow. Photo: Gerry Mooney

Anna Coogan

Reality TV show winner and musical star Danielle Hope couldn't be less diva-esque if she tried. The 22-year-old winner of BBC's talent contest Over The Rainbow is all about the great opportunity which has come her way since winning Andrew Lloyd Webber's TV search for his perfect Dorothy for The Wizard of Oz, when she beat 9,000 other young performers for the starring role at the London Palladium.

Rather than proof of any diva traits, the Manchester singer's large entourage for her forthcoming trip to Ireland to perform in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat at Bord Gais Energy Theatre and Cork Opera House, is all down to her extended Irish family.
Most of whom, she admits with a gasping apology, she has yet to meet.

"This is my first time in Ireland, though at home in Manchester people are always telling me how Irish I look," says the young star who is on a day trip to Dublin to promote her forthcoming performance.

"They're always pointing to my long dark hair and pale skin and greenish eyes and saying you'd know immediately I was Irish," she says.

Her grandfather, Michael Slevin, left Ringsend for Manchester at the age of 12 with his mum Bridget, and he will proudly lead the family entourage when Danielle is on her working tour here. "He's one for jangling his keys against a glass to the tune of an Irish folk song," Danielle says.
"None of the rest of my family would be performers, but the house was always full of music when I was growing up, and a lot of it was Irish," she says.

"My grandad has warned me that there'll be lots of driving around Dublin when I'm here for the show, as we've relatives spread out across the city," Danielle says. And when she gets to Cork, she'll be staying in a cottage owned by her great-aunt Pat.
"My mum and eight other women from my family in Manchester will be travelling over for the show, and we'll all be staying in the cottage," says an excited Danielle. "Can you imagine how much fun it's going to be? My mum hasn't been in Ireland since she was five, and it'll be my first real time, so we'll be doing a lot of visiting," she says.

But perhaps it's fair to say that the real leader of Danielle's entourage when she's in Ireland for Joseph next month, will be her boyfriend, Dan DeLuca.

Dan is an up-and-coming coming 22-year-old musical theatre star whom Danielle met in New York in February.

"A composer friend of mine introduced us, and was certain that we would hit it off, and we did, straight away," Danielle says, beaming.

"He's also Irish from way back, his family came from Dublin, and he has never been here either, so when his mum heard that I would be performing in Dublin, she was like 'Dan, you so have to go to Dublin and see the city with Danielle.'"

So what will she be reporting back to Dan following her first whirlwind trip to the city?

"It's much more modern than I had expected, and the people are so friendly," she says.

"At home, I'm always saying 'Hello' to people and trying to strike up conversations, but they just look at me like I have 10 heads.

"But here, they tell me what kind of day they're having," Danielle laughs.

"We arrived late last night and went for dinner in a Thai restaurant and we had a conversation with a person across the restaurant. That would never happen at home," she says.

"I'm hoping to have my first Guinness in a pub this afternoon before getting on the plane back to London."

Life has indeed changed very dramatically for the young drama star since she won the BBC reality TV show, and was plucked from obscurity.

Danielle's mum Tracy works behind a bar in Manchester, and her dad Brian is a builder. She has a brother and three half sisters. She was working part-time as a waitress while doing her A Levels when she auditioned for Over The Rainbow.

Five years later, she has enjoyed a long run as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, and another as Eponine in Les Miserables in the West End. She went on an X Factor tour and has released a single called Suburban Girl.

"It's not all red carpets and photos and parties. It's about rehearsals, and hard work and vocal strength and stamina, but that's all fine with me," Danielle says.

"I've always wanted to get into the business to perform and to be the best I can be. I was going to do drama and dance after my A Levels and my parents were like, 'do English and History too so you've something to fall back on'. They knew I could sing-I had been in musicals in school -but I don't think they ever believed that I would get to perform at this level," she says.

"It's incredibly exciting for us all.
None of my friends are in the business -they all went to college and are now teachers and psychologists - but they are very supportive and come and see the shows and remind me of my nights sitting in learning songs while they were out having fun. They're very pleased for me," Danielle says. She has the role of narrator in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat. "Everyone from four to 94 loves Joseph," Danielle says.

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat runs at Bord Gais Energy Theatre from Tuesday August 12 to Saturday August 23, and at Cork Opera House from Tuesday September 30 to Saturday October 4.

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