Soap star "really excited" about upcoming Wycombe performance

Bucks Free Press: Martine McCutcheon Martine McCutcheon

MARTINE McCutcheon is leading the cast of From Hackney to Hollywood, which will celebrate the music of song writer, Don Black. The singer and former Eastenders star will be taking to the Swan's stage to sing a mixture of his material including Diamonds are forever and Born Free.

The great lyricist, Don Black, asked Martine personally to lead the cast for the concert which will be performed for nine nights across the UK, with the opening night in High Wycombe.

Martine told Freetime: "I am really, really, excited for the opening night it will be really exciting because a lot of my friends and family will be there to watch too."

Having never performed in High Wycombe before the Love Actually star admits she doesn’t know too much about the area.

However, she has been to Wycombe in the past and is really looking forward to the curtain being raised on the opening night.

Martine said: "It is the first one and it is the closest performance to home.

"I have never performed there and I'm really looking forward to it. It is going to be good- hopefully they are going to be showing me a picture of the theatre soon."

Martine has more recently appeared on Loose Woman opening up about her depression and having ME, which lead to bankruptcy.

So it is a welcome return to the stage.

She said: "The thing I love is that you’re getting such a wealth of material in one show."

Martine, 37, first stepped into the spotlight in the 90s as one third of pop-group Milan but she found fame when she was given the role of Tiffany Mitchell in Eastenders.

The former soap star then pursued her singing career as a solo artist after leaving the BBC show in 1998.

She received international recognition for her singing soon after when her début single, Perfect Moment, went to number one in five countries.

However, despite major successes throughout her career the performer says she still gets nervous before performing.

Martine said: "I will be shaking but it will be good, I always get nervous."

She added that often she thinks the nerves add to the performance and make it more powerful.

After being approached by the legendary song-writer Don, Martine told him she needed to think about it.

She said: "I was at a birthday party of someone we share as a mutual friend and he was there too.

"He said to me ‘I love what you have done, I love what you do’."

She admitted to being shocked by his offer and told him she needed time to think about it.

Don then got in touch with her agent and arranged for the two of them to have dinner together, where he convinced her she would be right for the part.

Martine will be working alongside Gary Wilmot and Maria Friedman, who will be acting as well as taking on the role of the shows creative director.

Martine said some of the groups practice performances were ‘emotional’. She added: "I identify a lot with the song ‘If we never said goodbye’.

"There was not a dry eye in the house, I thought bloody hell I better sing something happier I need to cheer everyone up."

Having been brought up in Hackney and finding fame at a young age Martine says she can relate to the storyline of the show.

She said: "As is often the case a lot of songs do tell a story of your life.

"The show is something I can identify with."

As one of Britain’s most successful and versatile lyricists, Don Black has written musicals such as Sunset Boulevard, Billy and Aspects Of Love.

He has also written many of the most instantly recognisable songs of the last 50 years, including many James Bond theme songs.

In a career which has seen him go from Hackney to Hollywood he has won many awards including an Oscar for his song, Born Free.

He has also received five Academy Award nominations, four Broadway Tony Nominations and two Tony awards as well as a Golden Globe.

Talking of her upcoming performance, Martine said: "It is nice to get back on my feet again after a difficult couple of years."

But she has now set her sights on re-igniting her music career with a new album release expected soon after the end of the tour.

As well as working on her new album Martine is also continuing her television career with appearances on This Morning.

Martine who won a Laurence Oliver Award for her portrayal of Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady in London’s West End said: "The thing I am most excited about is releasing my own material."

Hackney to Hollywood, the Don Black songbook comes to High Wycombe’s Swan Theatre on Tuesday, March 25 at 7.30pm. Tickets are £25 to £36 with a £1.50 booking fee.

To book call 01494 512000 or go to www.wycombeswan.co.uk

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