Mark McMullan lands starring role following YouTube song for disabled brother
A man who became an internet sensation after more than 300,000 people watched a YouTube video of him singing an emotional song to his disabled brother is set to star in a musical at Belfast's Grand Opera House.
And proceeds from Mark McMullan's Irish premiere in the classic show Sunset Boulevard are to go towards charities supported by the foundation set up for his brother Declan, who was left with locked-in syndrome after he came back from the dead following a cardiac arrest.
Mark was immediately booked for chatshows north and south of the border after the internet clip of him singing Bring Him Home to his wheelchair-user brother went viral.
And Oscar-winner Russell Crowe was even heard whispering "beautiful" after Mark sang to Declan on the Late Late Show in Dublin, on which the Australian actor was a guest with Mark.
Declan was left severely disabled after the cardiac arrest in March 2012, which also rendered him unable to move or talk.
He even received the last rites before paramedics refused to give up their attempts to bring him back to life.
Declan was in intensive care in Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital for six weeks, and doctors urged his family to let them turn off the life-support machine.
But they refused and Declan eventually rallied, confounding the experts.
It was later established the cardiac arrest had been caused by the same undetectable heart problem that left Bolton Wanderers footballer Fabrice Muamba technically dead during a televised game against Tottenham Hotspur, the day after Declan fell ill.
Declan's family have devoted their lives to caring for him, and he communicates with them by blinking his eyes to spell out answers in response to their questions as they go through the letters of the alphabet.
Mark, who is studying architecture in Belfast, has received offers of professional singing jobs after performing the song from Les Miserables on the internet, but he remains determined to finish his course.
The YouTube clip was posted by a friend who filmed Mark singing to Declan in a pub in Crossgar, Co Down, and it brought offers of help for Mark in his career from Phil Coulter.
And just last week, the McMullan brothers and their loving family were praised by the tenor Alfie Boe during a concert at the Culloden Hotel.
Boe, who is returning to the cast of Les Miserables, brought Mark and Declan to the front of the stage to sing Bring Him Home to them.
Mark will get his big chance to sing in the Opera House in October when he plays the male lead role of Joe Gillis in Sunset Boulevard.
"It really is a dream come true," he said. "And what makes it more special is that the money we raise over the four nights from October 7-10 will boost the Declan McMullan F und."