Arts

Peter Corry on channelling Celtic influences

Singer and director Peter Corry is on the road again with his Call of The Celts tour as he celebrates 25 years in the entertainment business. He tells Joanne Sweeney how he hopes he can emulate the legendary Phil Coulter

Peter Corry is in his 25th year in the entertainment business after being discovered as a singer on talent show Go For It in 1992
Joanne Sweeney

PETER Corry is back doing what he does best, entertaining audiences with his smooth as butter vocals – but this time he's channelling Celtic influences with ballads from the Scottish and Irish isles.

Following on from the success of Belfast's popular Christmas show, The Music Box, which he hosted and produced last December at The Waterfront Hall, Corry embarks on his Call of The Celts show next Thursday with six dates around the north before taking it to the Netherlands for a further eight shows before it finishes in Hardenberg on March 31.

Yes, Peter Corry has a massive fan base in The Netherlands, having toured there 14 times in the last 17 years.

Now in his 25th year in the entertainment business after he was discovered as a singer on a joint BBC NI/RTE produced talent show Go For It in 1992, Corry is confident enough in his musical skills to entertain both audiences on for this latest tour.

"I'm very lucky that after 25 years my career is quite varied and I love that about it," he explains.

"I really enjoy it that I get to out to the Netherlands every year or two years and have this time at home as well. And to get to perform a different type of show than I would be normally pigeon-holed into.

"Holland is terrific to tour as it's the size of country where you can return to the same bed each night, which is an absolute luxury when you are touring. And they also speak brilliant English, so I feel that I can communicate with them very well.

"They're an honest audience too and will tell you what they like or don't like."

He found that the Dutch audience enjoys traditional Celtic ballads as much as a home audience.

The singer, who played the determined police man Javert in Les Misérables in the West End of London for three years, explains the Dutch connection: "I had just left a production in the West End and was at home over Christmas and was asked to go out as guest soloist for an Irish Christmas tour of Germany and Holland.

"After that, a Dutch promoter wanted me to headline a show in Amsterdam in 2002, which was a great success – and this year will be my 15th tour."

Instead of the big musical numbers that Corry is famed for, he performs classics such as Robert Burns' My Love is Like A Red, Red Rose or Riverdance's Lift The Wings and others, such as Caledonia in the Call of the Celts.

The tour allows the singer to perform ballads that he has a natural connection with, as Corry reveals:

"As a singer, it's important to do songs that you can connect with and that's the important thing for me. I think that an audience can connect with as well.

"We are in a unique position in Northern Ireland as we have such a strong connection with Scottish and Irish music and the show reflects that."

Corry has performed all over the world in his career. While known for his performances in musical theatre productions such Sweeney Todd and Chess, he has also directed and produced many shows, including the Belfast productions of Les Misérables and Annie Get Your Gun.

However, while he would love to produce and direct a new musical inspired by a mythical Irish legend one day, that's not currently on the cards.

"For every musical that is a success, there are many more that aren't," Corry tells me.

"You would need to have people who really believe in the project and it can take years to make it. People think that 'Les Mis' was a success overnight – it wasn't. It took years to get it right."

Apart from celebrating his silver anniversary in the business this year, the father of three grown-up children is to marry his long-term partner Fleur Mellor this summer.

He was also appointed as artistic director of the north's largest performing arts group, the Belfast School of Performing Arts, and will be directing two youth productions of Aladdin and Jesus Christ Superstar this summer.

Corry believes he has another 25 years of a career left in him.

"I'm just back from working with Phil Coulter, who's a fantastic example of how to keep yourself busy in this business. It's a brilliant to look like him and see his example.

"If I'm still enjoying it in 25 years' time, I'll still be doing it."

:: The Call of the Celts with Peter Corry tour starts at the Theatre at The Mill, Newtownabbey on Thursday February 22. For further show information, visit Petercorry.com

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