Actress, broadcaster and new mum Claire Sweeney has found a clever way to use all her terrible dating experiences – she turned them into a musical comedy which brings her to Chesterfield next week.
The Loose Woman, TV presenter and musical theatre star first appeared on our TV screens in Liverpool soap Brookside.
She wrote her play, Sex in Suburbia, with one of her best friends, Mandy Muden. She said: “It’s based on all our disastrous dating and funny stories. It’s kind of based on those real-life disasters. We dramatised some of them, added little bits and mixed up some of the stories.”
Claire said: “In our comedy the host of a late-night radio show is Britain’s leading agony aunt and she takes calls from listeners about their dates from hell – and the occasional one from heaven – and dishes out her advice.
“In the original show I played a relationship expert but this time around I play myself – a working mum with a baby.”
She added: “We take the audience through every emotion and we’ve included big musical anthems such as I’m Every Woman, I Want To Break Free and, of course, I Will Survive.”
Claire gave an example of some of the more outlandish true stories in the show.
“Well, one of them found the macho man she was dating wearing a frilly rah-rah dress! There’s another extraordinary tale about a cross-dresser. It’s the true story of a woman married to an uncommunicative, unpleasant man who suddenly discovers that he likes to wear women’s clothes.
“After the initial shock, she becomes the best of friends with his alter ego – who’s softer, warm and kind – and it saves their marriage.”
Members of the audience who are brave enough can also share their horror stories in one part of the show.
She got the idea when she was working on the show Tell Me On a Sunday, which Claire said is “about a woman who is looking for love in all the wrong places. I used to make the producer laugh with my own stories.
“I’d tell really silly stories and he said you’ve got to start writing them down. I did and the next thing we had a show.”
She admitted it had been hard to hear other people reading her lines. “It’s great when you get laughs and we changed things as we went along. It’s been a work in progress.”
Claire said that the project had taken two years in total. “It was just fun writing with my friend but still terrifying. I didn’t know if we were funny or not. It first went on at the Royal Court in Liverpool last May and I didn’t know how it would be received. We added some extra bits including about the girls and motherhood and breastfeeding.”
The new parts of her show are also from Claire’s own experiences.
The proud mother of baby son Jaxon said: “I’m loving being a mum. He’s my first child so I’m learning to multi-task. It’s hard work but really, really great.
“I’ve got a fabulous support system around me and I make sure he’s with me most of the time.
“He’s always by my side – he comes everywhere with me.”
Claire, who had suffered miscarriages in the past, said: “I always knew it would be fantastic and it’s just gorgeous. Words aren’t enough to describe how beautiful he is.”
However, as if motherhood and writing and appearing in a new play aren’t enough, Claire has also been busy putting together a new radio show, Magic of Musicals, on Magic Radio.
She said: “It’s just me talking about my favourite songs and I’ll be interviewing some great guests like the cast of Gypsy and Beverley Knight.”
She added: “I love musicals. It’s a dream job for me really.”
The show will go out at 3pm on Sundays in March and April.
Sex in Suburbia will be at Chesterfield Winding Wheel next Sunday, March 8. Box office: http://www.chesterfieldtheatres.co.uk/ or call 01246 345222.