Andrew Lancel, star of Coronation Street and The Bill, paid his dues as a patron of the Unity theatre at the weekend and hosted a one-man show and fundraiser for the venue. It was a packed, entertaining night that surpassed expectations and showed the actor in a light even some of his friends in the audience had never seen before. He might play straight-faced tough guys on TV, but in reality he is easy-going, candid, and boy, can he belt out a tune.
Although he can currently be seen on Corrie as nasty businessman Frank Foster, in reality, Lancel loves a bit of musical theatre, and his cabaret is top notch. So much so, I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen anyone use the Unity stage to such an effect. He littered his evening with tales of his life, amusing if slightly unprintable stories about his co-stars, audience questions, a bit of forgivably self-indulgent soliliquy, and some huge numbers like I Dreamed a Dream, Over the Rainbow and Bridge Over Troubled Water. It was a real mix, and therein lay his considerable talent; when he engaged the audience it was like a chat in a front room, when he sang his heart out, the theatre was transformed – we could have been in the Empire.
Speaking of that easy rapport — “I’d always rather have been Joe Longthorne than Robert DeNiro,” he admitted with a cheeky grin, but you could see what he meant. He had probably delivered much more than was required of him, and had instinctively put together a multi-faceted show that was made to be a crowd-pleaser, rather than a self-indulgent night with any old luvvie. He admitted commitments have forced him to turn down West End parts in the past, and the more he sang, the more you could see he that he could easily slip into almost any leading role you could think of, he’s a natural on stage. And in that regard, the evening was a very pleasant surprise, delighting fans and even his friends in the audience (including Pete Price and Echo legend Peter Grant, who couldn’t help themselves piping up and getting involved) by straying so far from supposed ‘type’. Lancel doesn’t know (or won’t admit) how long he plans to stay in Corrie; but this evening actually left you excited as to the possibilities of what he, as one of our own, might get up to in future.
Read MADEUP’s interview with Andrew Lancel here.