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Nuala McKeever to serve up treat with her meaty new role

She might be best known for witty repartee but Belfast comedienne Nuala McKeever is about to take on a meaty role and step outside her comfort zone.

The comic actress is currently in rehearsals for a new stage adaptation of the hit musical Sweeney Todd, playing the sinister pie-shop owner Mrs Lovett.

While Todd’s victims meet a sticky end at the hands of the murderous barber, his partner-in-crime Mrs Lovett packs her meat pies with their flesh, selling them to unsuspecting customers.

It’s the first time Nuala has performed in a musical and she’s hoping the audiences at the new Theatre At The Mill in Newtownabbey will be pleasantly surprised when they hear her sing.

“Last year I did a play with Peter Corry, whom I’ve known for ages, called I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change, and I had to do a singing sketch with him in that,” she said. “But this is completely different as I have quite a few songs to sing in Sweeney Todd.

“When I was offered the part of Mrs Lovett I said yes immediately without knowing the story or what the part entailed.

“But I’m really glad I agreed to it. The cast is great, the script is tight and we have a lovely new theatre to perform in.

“I took a few singing lessons before Christmas and I’m really hoping that the public are pleased with what they hear when I open my mouth to sing.”

The story of Sweeney Todd, played by Peter Corry in this version, is based on the 1979 stage musical by Stephen Sondheim. In 2007 Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter and Coleraine girl Jayne Wisener starred in a big-screen production.

Nuala said: “Ours has more comedy in it than the Johnny Depp movie, although it is still pretty grisly. But the Northern Irish can handle black humour and I think a lot of the music will be very relevant to now.

“There’s one scene in which I dance around singing a song called ‘A Little Priest’, and another line about politicans being so oily, they have to use a doily.

“It’s great fun and although I’m pretty nervous, I’m also really looking forward to it.”

A strict vegetarian, Nuala said working with meat pies would not compromise her principles.

“As long as the filling is human flesh, then that’s OK,” she joked.

Sweeney Todd runs at the Theatre At The Mill from February 2 to February 13. For further information log onto www.theatreatthemill.com.

Belfast Telegraph