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Performers believe One Direction could have made a bigger effort to go on with first show

By Kerry McKittrick

Published 22/10/2015

Pamela Ballantine
Pamela Ballantine
Dan Gordon
John Linehan
Comedian Nuala McKeever
Roma Tomelty
No show: Liam Payne
Sad times: 1D fan gets a comforting hug

The tear-stained faces of young girls huddled with their friends, scrolling down their phones, desperate for information on their favourite band, One Direction, while other youngsters had to be comforted by their mums in the rain outside the SSE Arena is not the sort of scene you expect for fans of one of the world's most successful boy bands.

While the news about the rescheduling of Tuesday night's gig, which was cancelled amid chaotic scenes at the arena, was greeted with jubilation from the young fans, the professionalism of Harry Styles, Niall Horan, Louis Tomlinson and Liam Payne has been called into question.

The official line was that band member Liam Payne was too ill to perform, therefore the show was abandoned leaving their legion of local fans weeping and confused.

While there is sympathy for Liam - the way in which the show was cancelled caused a huge amount of distress to, let's remember, 1D's young fans, many of whom are children.

Many of these kids will have saved up pocket money, done chores and extra homework to earn the treat of a ticket priced at just under £50.

Many parents will have had to buy a ticket for themselves too in order to accompany excited offspring to the show. Others will have received their treat as a birthday gift and been eagerly anticipating the outing for many months, not to mention all those who will have travelled considerable distances on a school night to see their heroes.

One Direction are not just any old boy band - they are one of the biggest selling and richest in the world - having been listed both in the Sunday Times Rich List and Forbes, such is the nature of their income.

There was a feeling that such privileged young men who are living the dream could have made a bigger effort earlier this week?

While the loyal and dedicated fan base will already be anticipating the re-arranged performance, perhaps these well-heeled popstars should be counting their blessings rather than seeing these children as just a route to earning another million.

We talk to five local performers about why the show must go on.

Pamela Ballantine (58) is a broadcaster and radio host and lives in Belfast. She says:

I find the whole thing very strange - Liam was well enough to do Press calls during the day so I can't help wondering what happened behind closed doors.

The only time I've ever had to cancel anything was when I got stuck in Spain because of the ash cloud. Before I made the phone call telling them I wasn't going to make it I rang around and found someone to cover for me, too. There was another time when I hosted a show just two weeks after having eight inches of my colon removed. It's the life of a freelancer - the show really must go on. There have been times when I've not been well and feeling like I'm going to faint standing under the lights on stage. When that happens I just make sure I'm holding on to the plinth or desk, if there is one.

I find it odd that it took so long for a statement to be released, too. You would have thought there would be negotiations to reschedule the concert immediately and there would be a statement issued at eight o'clock the next morning instead of at midday."

Dan Gordon (52) is an actor, writer, director, and comedian. He lives in Belfast with his wife and their three daughters. He says:

About 10 years ago I was playing Oberon, the king of the fairies in A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Lyric Theatre and I was as sick as a dog - I had man-flu. I felt like I was at death's door.

I would get into costume with a big flowing shirt and they even oiled me up too. After the first scene I crawled off stage and lay down immediately behind the flat set and slept for 20 minutes before they woke me up to go back on. I couldn't even get back to the dressing room.

I've never cancelled a show though. In Northern Ireland they can't afford understudies so if you cancel it costs you money. People drag themselves on stage in all shapes because if a show doesn't happen then people don't get paid.

I remember once the actor Marty McCann had to go to Los Angeles to audition for Stephen Spielberg to get his part in The Pacific: Band Of Brothers II. Tim Loan, the writer, stood in for him. He dressed in costume and carried the book on stage so he could read the part. The audience loved it because they were so sympathetic.

When I heard about the One Direction concert was cancelled, I thought the guy needed to be really, really ill to cancel the show as a lot of people won't be happy about it."

Nuala McKeever (51) is an actress, playwright and comedienne and lives in Belfast. She says:

I had an incident a couple of years ago, where I developed a chest infection the day before a week-long run of a one-woman show at the Lyric Theatre. Obviously, the whole thing would have to be cancelled if I couldn't go on.

I did go to the doctor's the morning of the first performance to get an antibiotic, but otherwise, I just had to go on. I did manage to incorporate a box of tissues into the set though.

While, I've never cancelled anything, I have pulled out of the odd thing, like a rehearsal.

I think One Direction have got too big for their boots, it sounds like they didn't go on just because they didn't feel like it. I think they'll split up quite soon anyway. For them to cancel at the absolute last minute is just not on."

John Linehan (64) is best known for his role as Dame May McFettridge in the Christmas panto at Belfast's Grand Opera House each year. He lives in Belfast with his wife, Brenda, and they have one daughter. He says:

This year will be my 26th doing the panto at the Grand Opera House and I haven't missed one show yet. The worst year was the panto of 2012. I can hardly remember it because I had so many pain killers in me - I had to get a complete knee replacement afterwards.

The dressing rooms in the Opera House are downstairs and you're not allowed to use the lift in case you get stuck in it. Each show took me 150 steps because of all the costume changes I had.

The worst days were when it got so bad that I had to go down the stairs backwards. People have said they don't know how I finished the run and I don't know how myself, but the show must go on.

It's one thing when you're doing a dramatic play, but having to make a thousand people laugh when you have pain shooting up your leg is another. I hope the young man has a good excuse for cancelling a show - especially with such short notice.

You see people saying they're not well, but a few years ago Linda Nolan did the last 12 shows of panto knowing she had breast cancer and knowing she would have to have a mastectomy.

She didn't say to anyone - even though she was in horrendous pain the whole time. Now that's a professional."

Roma Tomelty (70) is an actress and is married to fellow actor and director Colin Carnegie. They have three children. She says:

Back in my day, it didn't matter what happened, you had to get on with it. Although, it seems today they think nothing of putting on an understudy.

I've gone on stage just after hearing of the death of my grandmother and my cousin, who was my best friend - they died on different days.

My father went on stage in Liverpool the day his father died.

There was a chap once who broke his ankle and my husband, Colin, stepped in for him with a half an hour's notice.

Colin was an actor, but on that production, he was part of the technical crew, so he knew the play, but hadn't rehearsed it.

I have no idea what happened with One Direction.

It must have been so very disappointing for the audience for it to be cancelled when they were already in their seats."

Performers who never say die

The original line-up of One Direction was Niall Horan, Harry Styles, Louis Tomlinson and Zayn Malik. Liam Payne auditioned separately for the X Factor until Simon Cowell intervened and put him with One Direction

Five became four in March this year when Zayn Malik left

One Direction finished third in the seventh series of The X Factor in 2010. Propelled to international success by social media, One Direction's four albums - Up All Night (2011), Take Me Home (2012), Midnight Memories (2013) and Four (2014) - topped charts in most major markets, and generated hit singles including What Makes You Beautiful, Live While We're Young, Story of My Life and Steal My Girl

Belfast Telegraph

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